This is the first of a series of 8 posts where I will go into more detail about the Buddha’s Eight-fold Path. Each post will examine each of the Eight Branches or Eight Spokes on the Wheel of Dharma and I’ll include my own thoughts and reflections.
The Eight-fold Path is divided into three categories:
- Wisdom (Right View, Right Intention)
- Ethical Conduct (Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood)
- Concentration (Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration)
Right View in Buddhism
Right View in Buddhism, which is also known as Right Understanding is the first branch of the Eightfold Path and is the very foundation of Buddhist belief and practice.
It’s important to keep in mind that Right View doesn’t refer to a mindset that is inherently right and that another mindset is wrong. There is only what is conducive and what is not conducive to the realization of Nirvana in this moment.
Although I will use the word “right” in these posts for the sake of simplicity, this is not an exact translation from the Sanskrit word “samma” which is more accurately translated by Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman as “realistic, authentic” and “skillful”.
So what is meant by Right View or Right Understanding?
Essentially this refers to understanding of the Four Noble Truths and when Buddha was asked “What is Right View?”, he replied “To understand suffering, to understand the causes of suffering, to understand the cessation of suffering, and to understand the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.
Right View is the foundation for all the other branches which enables us to understand our starting point as well as our “destination” and all of the milestones in between that will ultimately lead to liberation from suffering and the causes of suffering.
Types of Right View
Right View can also be further broken down into “mundane right view” and “superior right view”.
Mundane Right View
The first requires an intellectual understanding gained from learning and studying the Four Noble Truths and reflecting on their significance in our lives. This is the right view that inspires us to walk the Buddhist path.
Superior Right View
The second called “superior right view”which is the deeper and experiential understanding of the Four Noble Truths that is cultivated in the other steps of the Eight-fold path. By walking the path we experience the realization of the Four Noble Truths as a realistic way to view the world. So Right View can be viewed as the beginning and the ending of the Eight-fold Path.
A good question I ask myself every day would be “Am I seeing the world as it really is, or just as I want and expect it to be?”
I think that we spend most of our time focusing on how we want the world to be and what we think is wrong with the world, instead of being mindful of the present moment. We waste the majority of our lives musing about the past or future when the only existence is in the present moment.
Thanks for reading this article on Right View in Buddhism, and I encourage you to post your thoughts and/or experiences below and please consider looking into the books that are recommended below for further reading. Click here to access my online store for even more books and other products.