Is the Eightfold Path exclusive to Buddhism? Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path. The way I understand the eightfold path is a generic path not exclusive to Buddhism. However, the Noble Eightfold Path is exclusive to Buddhism. I was trying to convince this to many in Dhamma Wheel without much support. I like to know the opinion of this learned Buddhist community.

Link to the discussion in Dhamma Wheel.


  • 2
    Please clarify, what you mean by the difference between the "eightfold path" and the "noble eightfold path"?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 14:00
  • @ChrisW. Only the Noble Eightfold Path (as taught by fully enlightened Buddhas) can lead to complete freedom from suffering.
    – user19771
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 17:37
  • Every living being is following the eightfold path whether knowingly or unknowingly. What Buddha asked was to change that path to a Noble Eightfold Path.
    – SarathW
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 5:44

4 Answers 4


Arguing about the Dhamma, the Noble Eightfold Path is not helpful.

DN1:1.1.4: Meanwhile, Suppiya criticized the Buddha, the teaching, and the Saṅgha in many ways, but his pupil Brahmadatta praised them in many ways.

It is not helpful because it does not bring peace.

DN1:1.5.1: “Mendicants, if others criticize me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, don’t make yourselves resentful, bitter, and exasperated. You’ll get angry and upset, which would be an obstacle for you alone.

DN1:1.6.3: If others praise me, the teaching, or the Saṅgha, don’t make yourselves thrilled, elated, and excited. You’ll get thrilled, elated, and excited, which would be an obstacle for you alone.

For peace, avoid the prime net, the net of views discussed at length in DN1.


Is the Eightfold Path exclusive to Buddhism?

The general principle behind some limbs of the 8NP are quite universal across religions (ex: "Thou shall not kill" is a reflection/implementation of Right-Action; or: "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean." is Right-Speech, etc...). However, if looking at it as one fully elucidated and systematized whole, then yes, 8NP is exclusive to Buddhism.


Good householder,

While one could, in times of no Sammasambuddha, discover the path for oneself and become a privat Buddha, only a Sammasambuddha can teach it, hence it is, was, will be always 'Buddhism' (following the/a Buddha) which provides and teaches the Noble eightfold path, the path to Unbond, liberation, freedom from suffering.

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trade but for an escape from this wheel]


The Noble Eightfold Path is exclusive to Buddhism, whether discovered by Gautama Buddha or Buddhas before him.

As stated in Dhammapada 254 - 255, noble contemplatives cannot be found outside the Buddha's teachings. The term "noble" or "ariya" here is a technical term in Buddhism, and doesn't refer to its ordinary meaning.

The simplest hint is that you cannot find the Right View of the Noble Eightfold Path outside Buddhism.

Of course, you can find eightfold paths anywhere.

For e.g. in the famous Hindu text Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he taught the Ashtanga Yoga or Eight Limbs of Yoga.

And guess what image I found on the Ashtanga Yoga wikipedia page:

Ashtanga Yoga

That's certainly an eightfold path, just not the Buddhist noble one.

Also please see this answer.

Even within Buddhism, there is both the noble and non-noble versions of Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood and Right Thought (according to MN 117). The noble version applies to Buddhist monks while the non-noble version applies to Buddhist lay followers.

I speculate that the non-noble version of Right Action, Right Speech, Right Livelihood and Right Thought (according to MN 117) may also apply to followers of other religions, but only if they follow the definition strictly.

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