In the last post, I wrote that right view is “right view of the ownership of action”, which is correct but incomplete. For each of the steps on the 8-fold path, there is a mundane aspect and a supra-mundane (or superior) aspect. The mundane aspect works within the confines of the material world; the supra-mundane aspect is concerned with the principles essential to liberation. So there is, in a sense, an entry level and a level for the pursuit of full awakening for each element of the 8-fold path.
My assumption is that most readers of this list are primarily interested in the mundane level, in working with things we can see and hear, touch and evaluate.
But it would be good to recognize the supra-mundane level if it should present itself. Supra-mundane right view is when we see the world (that is, our experience) through the lens of the Four Truths (dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the end of dukkha, and the path leading to the end of dukkha). It sounds simple, but it’s not something we can just decide to do. Our attachments are (usually) too strong for us to see clearly.
They see change in what is changing,
Suffering where there’s suffering,
“Non-self” in what is without self,
They see the un-lovely as such.
– from AN 4.49, translated by Andrew Olendzki (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.049.olen.html)
Bhikkhu Bodhi, in his excellent book on the 8-fold path, says “To arrive at the experiential realization of the truths it is necessary to take up the practice of meditation — first to strengthen the capacity for sustained concentration, then to develop insight.”
In keeping with the interdependent nature of the elements of the 8-fold path, the mental trainings (effort, mindfulness and concentration) support the wisdom aspects (view and intention) and vice versa, whether we’re working on the mundane or supra-mundane level.
At the mundane level, we only need enough concentration and mindfulness to notice what we are doing, while we’re doing it. Is there a frame of reference that we can discern? Are we acting in order to reduce our anxiety, or satisfy a particular need, or reach a specific goal? What lens are we looking through right now?
The factors of the eight-fold path are:
1. Right View (Sammā diṭṭhi )
2. Right Intention
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration