Thus the Buddha defines the path factor of right view expressly in terms of the four truths: “What now is right view? It is understanding of suffering (dukkha), understanding of the origin of suffering, understanding of the cessation of suffering, understanding of the way leading to the cessation to suffering.”
Ordinary or mundane right view, accepting that we are the owners of our actions, is enough to get us started on the path to awakening. It’s also a good way to have a more satisfying life right now.
Once we have practiced with the whole path for a long time (possibly lifetimes), we come to the end of it. When we know, down to our toes, that clinging generates suffering, and see that clinging can be released, we let go of all forms of clinging. This is one definition of complete liberation: the release of all clinging – to self, to experience, to ownership of anything whatsoever. This can be a directional sign and an encouragement to keep using the Buddha’s 8-fold path as a guide. At every step, recognizing and releasing clinging will point us in the best direction.
On our way to this understanding, the value of friends who are teachers or mentors becomes clearly apparent. If we know someone who has moved along this path to a point of less clinging, we may recognize a buoyancy, a lightness of touch that is appealing and refreshing. Some part of our wise heart knows that we’d like to be more like that person. This is why so many people want to be near the Dalai Lama; it’s just nicer in that atmosphere.
As we try to create a more wholesome, freer environment around ourselves, we can look to those who have somehow done it before us, or who are actively doing it now in ways that make sense to us. We can ask ourselves, not only “What would [our admired person] do?” but also “What would that person NOT do?”.
As we reflect on our words and actions using this guide, we can also be aware of how our actions are affecting others. Are we someone else’s admired person?