The Eightfold Path
Twofold Meditation: Calm and Insight (Samatha & Vipassana)
Types of Temperament
The Threefold Training
Application of Mindfulness
The Eightfold Path
Refraining from intoxicants and becoming heedful, establishing themselves in patience and purity, the wise train their minds. It is not too hard a task for a man to be calm when everything around him is favourable, but to be composed in mind in the midst of unfavourable circums-tances is hard indeed. It is just this difficult thing that is well worth accomplishing, for thereby one builds up one's strength of character.
It is through training in quiet contemplation that a quiet mind is achieved.
Can we also achieve it? Lord Horder answers the question thus: "Yes. But how? Well, not by doing some great thing. 'Why were the saints saints?' someone asked. And the answer came: 'Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful and patient when it was difficult to be patient. They pushed on when they wanted to stand still, and kept silent when they wanted to talk.'
That was all. So simple, but so difficult. A matter of mental hygiene..." Strive again and again without giving up the struggle. No one reaches the summit of a hill at once. Like the skilful smith who removes the dross in silver bit by bit, man must try to purge himself of his impurities. 
The path pointed out by the Buddhas or Enlightened Ones of all ages for inner growth and development is that of meditation, and this is the Noble Eightfold Path. Its eight factors are in three groups: virtue, concentration and wisdom or insight (sila, samadhi and panna). This is the only path; there are no short cuts to enlightenment and deliverance of the mind. All the practical guidance and instructions given by the Buddha to remove mental conflicts due to the unsatisfactoriness of life are to be found in the Noble Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
Twofold Meditation: Calm and Insight (Samatha & Vipassana)
The exposition of meditation as it is handed down in the early Buddhist writings is based on the methods used by the Buddha for his own attainment of enlightenment and Nibbana, and on his personal experience of mental development.
The word "meditation" really is no equivalent for the Buddhist term"bhavana" which literally means "development" or "culture," that is development of the mind, culture of the mind, or "making-the-mind-become." It is the effort to build up a calm, concentrated mind that sees clearly the true nature of all phenomenal things and realizes Nibbana, the ideal state of mental health.
Meditation as taught by the Buddha is twofold: concentration (samatha or samadhi), that is, one-pointedness or unification of the mind (cittekaggata), and insight (vipassana). Samadhi or concentration has the function of calming the mind, and for this reason the word samatha or samadhi, in some contexts, is rendered as calmness, tranquillity or quiescence. Calming the mind implies unification or "one-pointedness" of the mind. Unification is brought about by focusing the mind on one salutary object to the exclusion of all others.
Meditation (bhavana) begins with concentration (samadhi). Concentration is a state of undistractedness. What is concentration? What are its marks, requisites and development?
"Whatever is unification of mind, this is concentration; the four settings up of mindfulness are the marks of concentration; the four right efforts  are the requisites for concentration; whatever is the exercise, the development, the increase of these very things, this is herein the development of concentration."  This statement clearly indicates that the three factors of the samadhi group, namely, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration, function together in support of each other. They comprise real concentration.
It must be mentioned that the development of concentration or calm as taught in Buddhism is not exclusively Buddhist. Yogis before the advent of the Buddha practised different systems of meditation as they do now.
Samadhi taught in Buddhism culminates in jhana  . But the Buddha was not satisfied with mere jhana and mystical experiences; his one and only aim was to attain full enlightenment -- Nibbana. Having gained perfect concen-trative calm through samatha meditation, he was able to develop vipassana (insight) meditation. The word vipassana (vi+ passana) means seeing in an extraordinary way-- from the word "passana" to see and the prefix "vi" denoting special, particular. Vipassana therefore means seeing beyond what is ordinary, clear vision. It is not surface seeing or skimming, not seeing mere appearances, but seeing things as they really are. This means seeing everything in terms of the three characteristics, the signs of all phenomenal existence: impermanence, suffering and egolessness (anicca, dukkha and anatta). It is this insight meditation, with calm concentration of mind as its basis, that enables the meditator to purge his mind of all defilements, to remove ego-illusion, to see reality, and to experience Nibbana.
Vipassana or insight meditation, therefore, is an essential, a typical doctrine of the Buddha himself, not heard by before him, a unique experience of the Master, exclusively Buddhist, which was not in existence prior to the Buddha.
It must be stressed that both tranquillity and insight (samadhi and vipassana) are essential for the realization of the Dhamma, for enlightenment and Nibbana. The Buddha points out: "When tranquillity is developed, the mind is developed and lust is abandoned; when insight is developed, right understanding is developed and ignorance is abandoned. The mind defiled with lust is not liberated; when there is defilement through ignorance, right understanding is not developed..." 
Samadhi (samatha) being one of the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, under no circumstances can it be dispensed with. Samadhi is cittavisuddhi, purity of mind which comes into being through the elimination of hindrances (nivarama).
Now it is clear that according to the teaching of the Buddha, samadhi cannot be bypassed on the journey to enlightenment and Nibbana.
Types of Temperament
Mind is such a subtle and intricate phenomenon that it is not possible to find two men of the same mind. Man's thoughts are translated into speech and action. Repetition of such speech and action gives rise to habits and finally, habits form character. Character is the result of man's mind-directed activities and so the characters of human beings vary. The Path of purification, the Visuddhimagga, mentions six main types of character or temperament (carita) which include many lesser ones. They are those disposed to lust, hatred, infatuation, faith, intellectuality and discursiveness. As temperaments differ, so do the subjects of meditation (kammatthanas). One comes across these kammatthanas enumerated in the Pali texts, especially in the discourses of the Buddha. The Path of Purification describes forty of them. They are really like prescriptions for various mental disorders that human beings are heir to.
In the Majjhima Nikaya, one of the five original collections in Pali containing the discourses of the Buddha, there are two discourses (Nos. 61 and 62) that are devoted wholly to instructions on meditation. In Discourse No. 62 the Buddha gives seven types of meditation to young Rahula, the novice, who, according to the commentary, was only eighteen years of age when he received them. Here is an extract from the discourse:
"Develop the meditation on lovingkindness (metta), Rahula; for by this, ill will (vyapada) is banished.
Develop the meditation on compassion (karuma), Rahula; for by this, cruelty (vihesa) is banished.
Develop the meditation on sympathetic joy (mudita), Rahula; for by this, aversion (to meditation) (arati) is banished.
Develop the meditation on equanimity (upekkha), Rahula; for by this, hatred (patigha) is banished.
Develop the meditation on repulsiveness (asubha), Rahula; for by this, lust (raga) is banished.
Develop the meditation on the perception of impermanence (anicca sanna), Rahula; for by this, pride of self, or 'I', (asmimana) is banished.
Develop the concentration of mindfulness on in-and-out-breathing (anapanasati), Rahula; in-and-out-breathing with mindfulness, developed and frequently practised bears much fruit, is of great advantage." 
The Buddha not only instructed and encouraged others to practise meditation, but also used to practise it as a way of peaceful abiding here and now (ditthadhamma sukha-vihari). Once the Blessed One said: "Monks, I wish to live in solitude for three months. Let my only visitor be the one who brings me food." "Very well, Venerable sir," replied the monks. At the end of the three months the Blessed One addressed the monks thus:
"Monks, if others (those belonging to other faiths) were to ask you: 'What meditation did Samana Gotama frequently practise during the Rains?' you should say: 'The Blessed One spent the Rains frequently practising the meditation of mindfulness on in-and-out breathing.' Herein, monks, I breathe in, mindful I breathe out ... Monks, one who speaks rightly should say: mindfulness on in-and-out-breathing is the ariya (noble) way of life, the brahma (sublime) way of life, the Tathagata's (an epithet for the Buddha) way of life." 
One should not try to practise all the forty subjects of meditation. What is important is to select the one that suits one best. It helps to seek the guidance of a person who is experienced in meditation. Books written on meditation could also be useful. It is, however, important to recognize honestly what our temperament or character is; for until we have done so, we cannot select the subject suitable of meditation. Once we have chosen it, we should work at it with confidence. Meditation is a "do it yourself practice."
If we are engrossed in worldly affairs, in routine work, it may not be easy for us to cut ourselves off and sit down in a quiet place for a definite period each day for various meditations. But it can be done, if we have the will. Surely we can devote a short period every day to meditation, whether it be at dawn or just before retiring to bed or whenever the mind is ready -- some short period of time, however brief, in which to collect our thoughts and concentrate.
If we thus try to cultivate a quiet contemplation day by day, we will be able to perform our duties better and in a more efficient way; we will have the courage to face worries and tribulations with a brave heart and will find contentment more easily. It is worth trying, only we must have the patience, the firm determination and the urge to make the effort, and if we are sincere we may well succeed. The meditation should be done, if possible, regularly at fixed times, for a considerable period, and we must not expect quick results. Psychological changes come slowly.
The Threefold Training
It is essential for us to discipline ourselves in speech and action before we undertake the arduous task of training our mind through meditation. The aim of Buddhist morality (sila) is the control of our verbal and physical action, in other words, purity of speech and action. This is called training in virtue (sila-sikkha). Three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path form the Buddhist code of conduct (sila). They are right speech, right action and right livelihood. The strict meditator observes at least the five basic precepts of morality known as panca sila -- abstinence from killing, stealing, illicit sexual indulgence, speaking falsehood and from taking liquor, including narcotic drugs that cause intoxication and heedlessness. In a meditation course the participants are expected to abstain from all sexual relations, and observe chastity.
This code of conduct (sila) is the stepping-stone to the Buddhist way of life. It is the basis for mental development. One who is intent on meditation or concentration of mind should develop a love of virtue that nourishes mental life and makes it steady and calm. This searcher of the highest purity of the mind practises the burning out of the passions.
"Others may harm, but I will become harmless; others may slay living beings, but I will become a non-slayer; others may wrongly take things, but I will not; others may live unchaste, but I will live pure; others may slander, talk harshly, indulge in gossip, but I will talk only words that promote concord, harmless words, agreeable to the ear, full of love, heart pleasing, courteous, worthy of being born in mind, timely, fit and to the point; others may be covetous, I will not covet; others may mentally lay hold of things awry, but I will lay mental hold of things fully aright. Energetic, steeped in lowliness of heart, unswerving as regards truth and rectitude, peaceful, honest, contented, generous and truthful in all things will I be. I will cherish mindfulness and wise penetration that is fully aware of the truth at all times, and will not be moved by the evanescent or grasp at it." (See Majjhima Nikaya 8)
Thus, he never acts slavishly like the unthinking herd.
Sila or the code of conduct set forth by the Buddha, therefore, is not a set of mere negative prohibitions but an affirmation of doing good -- a career paved with good intentions for the welfare and happiness of mankind. These moral principles aim at making society secure by promoting unity, harmony and mutual understanding among people.
Virtue aids the cultivation of concentration (samadhi). The last three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, namely: right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration, form the concentration group. This is called training in concentration (samadhi-sikkha). Progressing in virtue the meditator practises mental culture. Seated in cloister cell, or at the foot of a tree, or under the open sky, or in some other suitable place, he fixes his mind on a subject of meditation and by unceasing effort washes out the impurities of his mind and gradually gains mental absorption by abandoning the hindrances.
High concentration is the means to the acquisition of wisdom or insight. Wisdom consists of right understanding and right thought, the first two factors of the path. This is called training in wisdom (panna-sikkha). Thus the path is virtue, concentration and wisdom which are referred to in the discourses of the Buddha as the threefold training (tividha-sikkha). None of them, however, is an end in itself, each is a means to an end. One cannot function independently of the others. As in the case of a tripod, which falls to the ground if even a single leg gives way, so here, one cannot function without the support of the others. These three go together supporting each other. Virtue strengthens concentration. Concentration in its turn promotes wisdom, and wisdom helps us to get rid of the clouded view of things -- to see life as it really is, that is to see life and all things pertaining to life as arising and passing (udaya-vaya). By a gradual process, a gradual training and gradual practice,  the disciple rids himself of all defilements, eradicates them and attains deliverance, which means the living experience of the cessation of the three root causes of all evil: greed, hatred and delusion (lobha, dosa, moha). These three root causes are thus eliminated through training in virtue, concentration and wisdom.
With that final cleaning up he reaches the state where dawns for him the light of Nibbana, the calm beyond words, the unshakability beyond all thought, the freedom that is beyond all deeds, the sure and secure ground, the splendour that is imperishable, the happiness of stillness, of relief and perfect peace, immeasurably deep and pure, which can be overturned by nothing and by none, the highest truth. That is the very crown of the meditative life; it is its greatest fruit. With the attainment of that fruit all birth, old age and death are brought to an end, the pure life of holiness is lived out, all that must be done, is done, and the world holds nothing more for him. This, in short, is the way by which the meditator by gradual training attains his goal. Thus we see that virtue, concentration and wisdom are not isolated qualities but integral parts of the Noble Eightfold Path which is also the path of meditation already outlined.
Application of Mindfulness
Now let us proceed to the special procedure attached to the practice of meditation, to discuss one very important aspect of Buddhist meditation, namely, satipatthana, the "setting up, the application of, mindfulness." The word "patthana," the shortened form of "upatthana," means literally "placing near (one's mind)," that is, remaining aware, setting up, establishing, applying or arousing. To raise up the person to a keen sense of awareness in regard to an object, and to bring into play, call forth, and stir up the controlling faculty, the power, the enlightenment factor, and the way factor of mindfulness -- this is the setting up of mindfulness.
The Discourse on the Setting up of Mindfulness (Satipatthana Sutta), is one of the most important discourses delivered by the Buddha. It occurs twice in the Buddhist Canon.  The opening lines of the discourse clearly state: Satipatthana is the one and only way (ekayano maggo) for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the abandoning of pain and grief, for reaching the right path and realising Nibbana.
The setting up of mindfulness is fourfold: Application of mindfulness in regard to: 1. the body (kayanu-passana); 2. feeling or sensations (vedana-nupassana); 3. activities of the mind (cittanupassana); and 4. mental objects or mental contents (dhammanupassana). The essental thing here is mindfulness (sati), attention or observation (anupassana).
As mentioned above, concentrative calm is fulfilled by the conjunction of the last three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path, namely: right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. These form the three strands of the rope; they are intertwined and interrelated. Mindfulness, however, is considered as the strongest strand for it plays an important role in the acquisition of both calm and insight. Mindfulness is a certain function of the mind, and therefore, a mental factor. Without this all-important factor of mindfulness one cannot recognize sense objects, one cannot be fully aware of one's behaviour. It is called right mindfulness because it avoids misdirected attention and prevents the mind from paying attention to things unwholesome, and guides its possessor on the right path to purity and freedom.
Right mindfulness sharpens the power of observation and assists right thinking and right understanding. Orderly thinking and reflection is conditioned by man's right mindfulness. The discourse states clearly how a meditator becomes aware of his thoughts, mindfully watching each and every one of them, be they good or evil, salutary or otherwise. The earnest student will note that even reading the discourse makes him watchful, earnest and serious-minded. Right mindfulness is a quality that no sensible man would treat with contempt. Truly it is essential to cultivate mindfulness in this confused age when so many people suffer from mental imbalance.
Right mindfulness is instrumental not only in bringing concentrative calm, but in promoting right understanding and right living. It is an essential factor in all our actions, both worldly and spiritual. Now we see that meditation is not escapism, running away from life and society, not a voluntary exile from life, but the ideal form of life itself.
 Dhammapada, v.239.
 See Addendum III
 Majjhima Nikaya, 44 -
 Meditative absorption is a term difficult to translate. For a desciption of the jhanas, see the author's The Buddha's Ancient Path (Fifth impression 1987, BPS)
 Anguttara Nikaya, i. 61
 See below under the sub-title "Advice to a Meditator"
 Samyutta Nikaya, v. 326
 Anguttara Nikaya, iv, 200; Udana 54.
 Majjhima Nikaya, 10; Digha Nikaya 22