The internal unity of the Dhamma is
guaranteed by the fact that the last of the Four Noble Truths,
the truth of the way, is the Noble Eightfold Path, while the first
factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right view, is the understanding
of the Four Noble Truths. Thus the two principles penetrate
and include one another, the formula of the Four Noble
Truths containing the Eightfold Path and the Noble Eightfold
Path containing the Four Truths.
Given this integral unity, it would be pointless to pose the
question which of the two aspects of the Dhamma has greater
value, the doctrine or the path. But if we did risk the pointless
by asking that question, the answer would have to be the path.
The path claims primacy because it is precisely this that brings
the teaching to life.
The path translates the Dhamma from a
collection of abstract formulas into a continually unfolding disclosure
of truth. It gives an outlet from the problem of suffering
with which the teaching starts. And it makes the teaching’s
goal, liberation from suffering, accessible to us in our own experience,
where alone it takes on authentic meaning.