The last of the Four Noble Truths is that nirvana is attainable through the eightfold path of discipline, which consists of ethical conduct (right speech, right action, right livelihood), mental discipline (right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration), and wisdom (right thought and right understanding). Mental Discipline (Equanimity of mind) Right, realistic and skillful effort (exertion) Right, realistic and skillful mindfulness (attentiveness) Right, realistic and skillful concentration; Following the Eightfold Path is an evolutionary process through many states of spiritual development until the ultimate goal is reached, which is enlightenment.

Adherents to Buddhism reach their destination through moral, ethical, physical, and mental discipline. But there is a balance to maintain—in rejecting fleshly desires one must also avoid the extreme forms of asceticism. Buddhist ethics as an academic discipline is relatively new, blossoming in the mid-1990s. Much like Critical Buddhism and Buddhist modernism, it is a result of recent exchanges of Eastern and Western thought.