Sila, Samadhi & Pañña

While sitting before the large Buddha image at the temple the other evening, Ajahn Khamjan and I were talking about the importance of putting into practice the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, which can be broken down into its three constituent parts: sila, samadhi and pañña. I'll paraphrase some of what Ajahn shared with me:

"It's important that one practices sila (virtue), samadhi (concentration) and pañña (wisdom). If one practices only pañña, it's like holding a candle in a breeze; if one practices only samadhi, it's like being in a dark room without a candle to see; and if one practices only sila, it's like wearing a suit of armor without having any idea what it's for. Practicing all three, though, is itself the path to liberation."

After all, virtue leads to concentration, which provides the stability of mind that allows wisdom to arise. This wisdom leads to the deepening of virtue, which of course deepens concentration which, in turn, deepens understanding. And so on.