Gradual development of the Eightfold Path in the: In many suttas occurs an identical passage that outlines the gradual course of development in the progress of the disciple. There it is shown how this development takes place gradually, and in conformity with laws, from the very first hearing of the doctrine, and from germinating faith and dim comprehension, up to the final realization of deliverance.
"After hearing the law, he is filled with confidence, and he thinks: 'Full of hindrances is household life, a refuse heap; but the homeless life (of a monk) is like the open air. Not easy is it, when one lives at home, to fulfill in all points the rules of the holy life. How if now I were to cut off hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from home to the homeless life?' And after a short time, having given up his possessions, great or little, having forsaken a circle of relations, small or large, he cuts off hair and beard, puts on the yellow robe, and goes forth from home to the homeless life.
Having thus left the world, he fulfills the rules of the monks. He avoids the killing of living beings and abstains from it; without stick or sword, conscientious, full of sympathy, he is desirous of the welfare of all living beings. He avoids stealing ... avoids unchastity ... avoids lying ... tale-bearing ... harsh language ... vain talk.
"He abstains from destroying vegetal germs and plants; eats only at one time of the day; keeps aloof from dance, song, music and the visiting of shows; rejects floral adornment, perfumes, ointment, as well as any other kind of adornment and embellishment. High and gorgeous beds he does not use. Gold and silver he does not accept ... keeps aloof from buying and selling things ....
"He contents himself with the robe that protects his body, and with the alms-bowl with which he keeps himself alive. Wherever he goes, he is provided with these two things, just as a winged bird in flying carries its wings along with him.
"By fulfilling this noble domain of morality (sīla) he feels in his heart an irreproachable happiness."
In what follows thereafter it is shown how the disciple watches over his 5 senses and his mind, and by this noble restraint of the senses (indriya-samvara) feels in his heart an unblemished happiness; how in all his actions he is ever mindful and clearly conscious; and how, being equipped with this lofty morality (sīla), and with this noble restraint of the senses (indriya-samvara), and with mindfulness and clear consciousness (sati-sampajañña), he choses a secluded dwelling, and freeing his mind from the 5 hindrances (nīvarana, q.v.) he reaches full concentration (samādhi, q.v.); and how thereafter, by developing insight (vipassanā q.v.) with regard to the impermanency (anicca), misery (dukkha) and impersonality (anattā, q.v.) of all phenomena of existence, he finally realizes deliverance from all cankers and defilements, and thus the assurance arises in him:
"For ever am I liberated,
This is the last time I am born,
No new existence waits for me."
Cf. D.1, 2f; M. 27, 38, 51, 60, 76; A. IV, 198; X, 99: Pug. 239, etc.