What is right view in buddhism?

Right View in Buddhism is the first step of the Eightfold Path and refers to having a proper understanding of reality. If you do not have Right View, than actions and thoughts will be misguided.

Right View involves recognizing the Four Noble Truths

  1. There is suffering in the world
  2. That suffering arises from craving and attachment
  3. That it is possible to end suffering
  4. The path to the end of suffering is the Eightfold Path.

In Buddhism,

The idea is that with Right View, you can gain a deeper insight into the nature of reality and eventually achieve enlightenment. The key is to recognize and understand the false beliefs and ignorance that cause suffering, and to develop a clearer, more accurate understanding of reality.

Shunryu Suzuki, a renowned Zen teacher, famously said that all of Buddhism can be reduced to Right View and that this view is fundamental to both Buddhism and Vedanta non-duality. The issue is that we have a distorted view of reality, and this distorted view is the root of our suffering. In other words, our perception of reality is clouded by our biases, preconceptions, and illusions.

This leads us to see the world as separate and dualistic, when in fact, everything is interconnected and non-dual. The practice of Right View helps us to see beyond our limiting perceptions and to understand the true nature of reality, freeing us from suffering.

An example of this can be seen in our relationships with others. If we have the wrong view, we may see others as separate entities and act accordingly, leading to conflict and suffering. However, if we have the Right View and understand the interdependence of all beings, we will act with compassion and understanding, leading to peace and happiness.

Sama Diffie

The phrase “Sama Diffie” is a crucial aspect of Buddhism and non-dualism, particularly in the teachings of Shunryu Suzuki. The word “Sama” can be translated to “right” in English, but it also has roots in the word “some,” meaning complete or total. On the other hand, “Diffie” can be translated as “view” or understanding. Thus, “Sama Diffie” can be understood as a thorough or complete view or understanding of the world.

This complete understanding is seen to freeing oneself from suffering. The issue is that we often have the wrong view or understanding of the world, which leads to suffering and a lack of true insight. Sama Diffie, also called “Right View,” is the basis of both Buddhism and non-dualism. It is a change in how we see and understand the world.

Eliminating wrong view

wrong view buddhist perspective
Ideas to help eliminate wrong view

Simply seeking to find the Right View will not be enough. To truly understand the world as it is, we must first eliminate our incorrect perspective or false understanding.

This is why many non-dual teachers emphasize the importance of recognizing the false as false. The process of coming to the Right View is a process of rooting out our false beliefs and seeing them for what they are. The idea is that once we can see through the illusion, we can arrive at a true understanding of the world, free of suffering and illusion. In short, the path to the Right View is to first identify and reject the wrong view.

Example 1

The idea behind this is that our perception of reality can often be limited or misguided by our previous experiences, biases, and beliefs. For example, when looking at the Pando “Pando” (“Unforgettable Experiences: Pando Aspen Clone”)  in Utah, You might initially think that it is a forest made up of individual trees. However, upon further investigation, it is revealed that the Pando is actually a single organism made up of a single root structure with branches. This shows that our initial view of the Pando was incorrect, and that we needed to doubt our current understanding and gain a more complete and thorough view in order to understand the true nature of the Pando.

Similarly, in non-duality, the concept of “Right View” is about having a complete and total understanding of reality that dispels any incorrect views that may lead to misunderstandings and suffering. The way to achieve this right view is to first doubt and recognize the limitations of our current understanding, and then seek to gain a more complete and thorough view. This process of questioning and re-evaluating our beliefs helps us to see things as they truly are, rather than as we believe them to be.

Example 2

Another example of wrong view can be seen with a mirage. If someone sees a mirage and has the wrong view, they may see it as water and believe it to be real. However, when someone understands that the mirage is just an illusion, they no longer suffer or crave the water that doesn’t exist. The thorough view, or complete understanding, dispels the illusion and allows you to see the mirage for what it truly is. By recognizing the truth, there is no longer any confusion or suffering.

Example 3

The idea behind the Mobius strip example is that what we see and understand about the world is often based on our limited and incomplete understanding, or “view”. In the case of the Mobius strip, if you only see a flat ribbon, you might think that it has two separate surfaces, an inside and an outside.

However, if you understand the twist that makes it a Mobius strip, you realize that it is actually one continuous surface with no inside or outside. This analogy highlights the importance of having a complete and thorough understanding, or “right View” in order to see things as they truly are and avoid misunderstandings.

The same applies to our understanding of the world, if we have a limited and incorrect view, we will see things as separate and dualistic, leading to suffering and craving. But if we doubt our current view and strive for a complete understanding, we can see through the illusions and understand the world as it truly is.

The key is to delve into your current view and figure out what the incorrect view is that needs to be seen as false. The natural question might be, “What is missing?” but the place to start is by understanding what view is incorrect in the first place. Once the incorrect view is seen as false, the truth that is hidden behind it can be revealed.

It’s important to note that the right view leads to right action and the rest of the Noble Eightfold Path. If you have a complete and total understanding, all action and reaction will arise from that understanding, and the rest of the path, including action, effort, livelihood, and speech, will naturally follow. The focus, therefore, should be on achieving the right view rather than simply finding what is missing.

More reading

Suzuki. (2020). Zen mind beginners mind. Shambhala Publications.

“Unforgettable Experiences: Pando Aspen Clone.” Unforgettable Experiences: Pando Aspen Clone – National Forest Foundation, www.nationalforests.org/blog/unforgettable-experiences-pando-aspen-clone. Accessed 12 Feb. 2023.

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