Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Development of Right View (Sammaditthi)

          Right View is the first of the eight path factors in the Noble Eightfold Path, and belongs to the wisdom division of the path. Some scholars gave the interpretation as Right Understanding which is called “Sammàdiååhi” in Pali term. But here, I prefer to use Right View to Right Understanding. The definition was also given in some suttas as:
"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."23
This precept can be thought of as the thorough knowledge and understanding of the Four Noble Truths as a whole. It's the kind of understanding that comes through personal experience. That means that it doesn't matter if you read ten books on Buddhism and can recite things from memory. You need to feel it and know it in your bones. This usually takes repeated exposure to the knowledge, contemplation of the knowledge, and regular practice of the "spiritual exercises". Don't be hard on yourself if it takes you a long time to come to understand Right View from the inside out. At the same time, that's not an excuse to slack off. Right View is a facet of wisdom.
 When we are developing Right View, we use our intelligence for reflection and contemplation of things. We also use our mindfulness and wisdom together. So now we are using our ability to discriminate with wisdom (vijjà) rather than with ignorance (avijjà). This teaching of the Four Noble Truths is to help you to use you intelligence - your ability to contemplate, reflect and think - in a wise way rather than in a self-destructive, greedy or hateful way.
          In addition, Right View can be said the forerunner of all other factors of the path.
"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."24
Indeed, whatever we do for our daily living, it must be following with right understanding, and otherwise, it will cause a lot of troubles to arise in family life as well as societies.

End Note:

23. Thanissaro, Bhikkhu, (tr),Sammàdiååhi Sutta, DN 22
24. Thanissaro, Bhikkhu, (tr), Mahàcattarisaka Sutta: The Great Forty, MN.117

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