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The Eightfold Path Pt. 1: Right View

October 7, 2009

This is the first in a series of, you guessed it, 8 parts. Firstly, I am no expert on any of this, these are just my opinions, and I am hoping to hear yours as well, so feel free to comment.

Most Buddhists strive for liberation and to reach the ultimate goal of enlightenment, which means getting rid of all negative states of mind and to end the cycle of Samsara. The Eightfold Path was left for us from Buddha as a way to get there from here. It is obviously much more than that, but it’s a good start to accomplishing our goals of liberation from suffering.

An article on Buddhanet.net describes Right View as this “the right way to view the world. Wrong view occurs when we impose our expectations onto things; expectations about how we hope things will be, or about how we are afraid things might be. Right view occurs when we see things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life.”

What does this all mean? Let’s look at it and break it all down. It basically tells us, the layperson, that the way we look at the world is wrong, not that we’re idiots, but that we aren’t seeing what is really going on. Not talking about grand government conspiracies or anything, but just seeing the things that we don’t acknowledge or pay attention to. I’m no expert, but what I gather from this Right View is that we already have preconceived notions (habits) and need to change them. Buddha said that we are all born in original ignorance, and I believe Right View is one of the keys to start unlocking this ignorance we are born with.

We, as human beings, have a hard time coping with life. We think that we “need” certain things to be happy. We admire that person driving down the road in their brand new convertible, with the top down and hair blowing in the wind. We look up to celebrities as if they are Gods, wishing we could be just like them. We see the smiling, happy people at their “ideal” or “dream” job and think how can we get there? A few of us might even one day get there. We might have that car one day, and we take it for a ride, content with the fact we are now on par with that guy we saw driving his convertible. But then, we see someone drive by in the newest version of the same car, and all of a sudden we need that too. And we begin to suffer for that unnecessary grasping. It’s an endless cycle of unhappiness and suffering, and we are the cause of it, noone else.

If we can see things as they truly are, as attachments or grasping, we can begin to breakthrough our wrong views, and try to make them right. I can’t say I have really figured this one out, but I’ve come to a point where I can realize when the mind is grasping and try to come to terms with what is going on.

A personal example is this. I used to be so wrapped up in what people said to me. I would always try to tear the words apart and figure out what they really meant. The fact of the matter is, I was trying to read between the lines, as if the person was saying more than they really were. And that’s where I used to get into alot of trouble, there was nothing between the lines, what they were saying was exactly what the meant to. No more, no less. I’m not the only one that does this, look at the media in this country. They listen to what someone says, read WAY TO DEEPLY into and translate what they think the person was saying. What if that person was saying, what they said. No more, no less. Seeing this happen all the time has helped me break it down a bit for myself and try to not read so much into people’s words and actions.

Right View is much more than this too, and I’m sure I’ll understand more as the path unfolds, but basically I think it’s seeing things the way they truly are. Blue is Blue, Happiness is Happiness, The bird you hear chirping is just a bird chirping… know what I mean?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alexis permalink
    December 9, 2009 1:26 am

    Among the many ideas that I liked in this essay is the description of right view as seeing things as they really are, without attachments or expectations. By starting with right view, you can lay the groundwork for all of the remaining steps of the eightfold path, and if you don’t start with that, then none of the remaining steps will have a solid foundation. When you go to the doctor, you want him to have a right view or right understanding of your symptoms and test results before making a diagnosis. When you’re at work, you have to have a right understanding of a business problem before you can decide on a solution. How could you ever make a right decision about anything if you didn’t first have a right understanding of what the issue is?

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