Wrong view

Buddha himself says that he sees no single factor so responsible for the arising of unwholesome states of mind as wrong view, and no factor so helpful for the arising of wholesome states of mind as right view. Again, he says that there is no single factor so responsible for the suffering of living beings as wrong view, and no factor so potent in promoting the good of living beings as right view (AN 1:306,307).
(from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html#ch2)

What is wrong view? One obvious answer is the position that it doesn’t matter what we do, that our actions are not morally significant, don’t really have the power to affect us or the people around us.

But we may approach our day-to-day experience differently. Rather than thinking “nothing matters”, we might think of how things could or should be better than they are. If we watch our thought process, we might see a pattern. How much resistance do we have to our direct experience? Are we re-framing our experience as it happens to make it into a picture we want to see rather than what’s actually there?

What are the things that annoy us most? What do we most object to? It is probably different for you, but the thing that most irks me is when people don’t make space for each other or are carelessly unkind. This leads to the understanding that I have a deeply held view that people SHOULD be nice! And sometimes they are, but sometimes they’re not. But my clinging to the view that people should always be kind to each other causes me problems. It’s a view that puts me in the judgment seat, and I find the world wanting. I can feel “ME” getting bigger when I think of this; it’s the clinging that creates a strong sense of self and an accompanying disregard for things as they are. Ironically, this can also make me careless about the feelings of others. There is plenty of evidence that I’d be better off (as would others) if I didn’t cling to this view.

Other possible wrong views:

– “This is all X’s fault.” (X could be a person or God)
– “I deserve better.”
– “No one has ever suffered as much as I have.”
– “I’m the worst human being in the world.”
– “It shouldn’t be like this”.

It is difficult to recognize our own wrong views; they seem to be integral parts of our selves. The only way to discover them is to pay close attention to how we think and act. It could be as simple as hearing ourselves complain about the weather. Also, a good friend could help us if we ask them to. Is there anyone with whom you could have a conversation about the importance of choosing the best point of view? Anyone you trust enough to ask, “Can you help me with my attitude? Is there another way I could look at this situation?”

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Filed under Causes and results, The 8-fold path

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