Buddhism - Right View And Wrong View

Buddha, the Founder of Buddhism

Compiled by Jayaram V

"And what is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: This is called right view." — DN 22

Right View Constitutes

Right  view involves the correct understanding the Four Noble Truths, which are:

1. Truth concerning the existence of suffering;

2. Truth concerning the origin of suffering;

3. Truth concerning the extinction of suffering; and

4. Truth concerning the path that leads to the extinction of suffering.

Right view also means understanding what is the right action and what is not the right action and also understanding what is the root of both.

Actions that are not right

These are those physical, mental and verbal acts which arise out of greed, hatred, delusion and which produce painful and evil results either in the present or in the future existence. Some examples of actions that are not right at the physical level are the destruction of living beings, stealing and unlawful sexual intercourse.

At the verbal level it is lying, tale-carrying, use of harsh language and gossiping. At the mental level it is greediness, ill-will and wrong views. The root causes of these actions that are not right are greed, anger and delusion.

The right actions

To abstain from killing, stealing and unlawful sexual intercourse constitute the right actions at the physical level. At the verbal level it is to abstain from lying, from tale-carrying, from the usage of harsh-language and from frivolous talk.

At the mental level it is absence of greediness, of ill-will and having right understanding. The root cause of right karmic actions are selflessness or absence of greed, compassion or absence of anger, and wisdom or absence of delusion

When one understands that the physical existence, body, feeling, perception, mental formation, and consciousness, are but temporary, then also it is to be considered as right understanding.

Right view, right effort and right mindfulness

"And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view. And what is wrong view? 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is wrong view... "One tries to abandon wrong view & to enter into right view: This is one's right effort. One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. Thus these three qualities — right view, right effort, & right mindfulness — run & circle around right view." — MN 117

People who hold wrong view

"There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person... does not discern what ideas are fit for attention, or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention, and attends instead to ideas unfit for attention... This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will endure as long as eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

"The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones... discerns what ideas are fit for attention, and what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas unfit for attention, and attends [instead] to ideas fit for attention... He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices."

Right view comes with an unconditioned mind

"Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them...

"When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them." — AN III.65

Abbreviations

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