Right effort and right mindfulness are directed at the eighth factor of the path, right concentration. This is defined as wholesome one-pointedness of the mind, wholesome unification of the mind. To develop concentration we generally begin with a single object and attempt to fix the mind on this object so that it remains there without wavering. We use right effort to keep the mind focussed on the object, right mindfulness to be aware of the hindrances to concentration, then we use effort to eliminate hindrances and strengthen the aids to concentration. With repeated practice the mind becomes gradually stilled and tranquil.

With further practice we can develop deep states of absorption, called the "JHANAS".
[See meditation on Serenity]

Stilled mind - The Gateway to wisdom
When the mind is stilled and collected it serves as the means to develop insight. Having developed right concentration, when the mind has become a powerful tool, we direct it to the four foundations of mindfulness, contemplating the body, feeling, states of mind and mental objects.

Then as the mind examines the flow of events in the body mind process, as it tunes into the flow from moment to moment, gradually step by step there occurs the arising of insight. Insight develops, matures and deepens, and turns into wisdom, the liberating wisdom which sees into the Four Noble Truths.

At this peak of development, the seeing of the Four Noble Truths become direct and immediate and it brings the destruction of the defilements, the purification of the mind and liberation of the mind from the fetters.

As the name suggests, the Noble Eightfold Path consists of eight factors. The eight factors need not be followed in sequence. The path consists of eight factors working simultaneously. They all perform distinctive functions, all contributing in their unique way to attainment of the end of suffering.

[Back to Noble Eightfold Path]