In practice it can be looked at in this way: first there is the disciplining of the mind to be attentive to breathing. This is the arising of morality. When mindfulness of breathing is practiced continuously until the mind is quiet, this is the arising of concentration. Then examination showing the breath as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self, and the subsequent non-attachment, is the arising of wisdom. Thus the practice of mindfulness of breathing can be said to be a course for the development of morality, concentration and wisdom. They all come together.
When morality, concentration and wisdom are all developed, we call this practicing the eightfold path which the Buddha taught as our only way out of suffering. The eightfold path is above all others because if properly practiced it leads directly to Nibbāna, to peace. We can say that this practice reaches the Buddha-Dhamma truly and precisely.
When we have practiced meditation as explained above, the fruits of practice will arise in the following three stages:
First, for those practitioners who are at the level of ”Buddhist by faith”, there will arise increasing faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. This faith will become the real inner support of each person. Also, they will understand the cause-and-effect nature of all things, that wholesome action brings wholesome result and that unwholesome action brings unwholesome result. So for such a person there will be a great increase in happiness and mental peace.
Second, those who have reached the noble attainments of stream-winner, once-returner or non-returner, have unshakable faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. They are joyful and are pulled towards Nibbāna.
Third, for those arahants or perfected ones, there will be the happiness free from all suffering. These are the Buddhas, free from the world, complete in the faring of the holy way.
– Ajahn Chah –
“Fragments of a Teaching”