Cultivation of Samma Ditthi (Right View)
I. C. Boange
Samma Ditthi which is translated as Right View, occurs at the very beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path, thus, the importance of its cultivation for the realisation of the path and its fruits.
The Venerable Sariputta explains right view in the Saccavibhanga Sutta (Majjima Nikaya 141) as knowledge of suffering (Dukkha); knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, and knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.
It should be noted that the truth of Dukkha is translated in many ways, as suffering, unsatisfactoriness conflict etc, but it would be more appropriate and helpful to understand it in the manner explained by the Buddha himself and in the Dhamma Sakkapavattana Sutta and likewise by the Arahath Sariputta in the aforesaid Sutta as “Birth is suffering, aging is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow Lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering; not to obtain what one wants is suffering; in short the five aggregates affected by clinging are suffering.”
Development of Right View
The various ways in which Samma Ditthi could be cultivated has been set out comprehensively by the Arahath Sariputta in the Samma Ditthi Sutta (Majjima Nikaya No. 9) as follows:-
Understanding the unwholesome (Akusala) the root of the unwholesome (Akusala Mula), the wholesome (Kusala) and the root of the wholesome. What is unwholesome? Killing living beings; taking what is not given, misconduct in sensual pleasures, false speech, malicious speech, harsh speech, gossip; covetousness, ill-will, wrong view: and the root of the unwholesome is greed (Lobha) Hatred (Dosa) delusion (Moha).
The wholesome is the abstention of the aforesaid action, and the root of the wholesome is non greed, non hate and non delusion.
Then, Understanding Nutriment (Ahara ie. Edible food, contact, mental volition and consciousness:) the origin, by Craving. The cessation, by cessation of craving and the way leading to the cessation of Nutriment is The Noble Eightfold Path: Thereby one develops right view.
Understanding the four Noble Truths, ie Dukha, its arising by craving, cessation, by Eradication of craving, and the way leading to its cessation ie. the noble eightfold path. Likewise the following conditions should be understood.
Understanding Ageing and Death The ageing of beings in the various orders of beings, their old age, brokenness of teeth, graying of hair, wrinkling of skin, decline of life, weakness of faculties.
The passing of beings out of the various orders of beings, their passing away, dissolution, disappearance, dying, completion of time, dissolution of the aggregates, laying down of the body, is called death.
By the arising of birth, there is the arising of ageing and death, with the cessation of Birth, there is the cessation of ageing and death and the way leading to its cessation is the noble eightfold path.
Understanding Birth (Jati), The birth of beings into the various orders of beings, their coming to birth, precipitation (in a womb), generation manifestation of the Aggregates, obtaining bases for contact.
With the arising of being, there is the arising of birth. With the cessation of being there is the cessation of Birth.
The other conditions could be summarised as follows:-
Being (Bhave) – Sense – sphere beings, fine material, immaterial Arising by clinging, cessation by non clinging
Clinging (Upadana) – Clinging to sensual pleasures, to views to rituals and observances, to a doctrine of self.
– Arising by craving, cessation by eradication of craving
Craving (Tanha) – Six classes: craving for forms, sounds, odours, flavours, tangibles, mind-objects. Arising by feeling, cessation by eradication feeling.
Feeling (Vedana) – Six classes: Feeling born of eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact, mind-contact.
-Arising by contact, cessation by eradication of contact
Contact (Phassa) – Six Classes: Eye contact, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
– Arising by six fold base, cessation by eradication of six fold base.
Six Fold Base (Salayatana) – Six Bases: Eye-Base, ear, nose tongue, body, mind.
– Arising by Mentality – Matiality cessation by eradication of it.
Mentality-Materiality (Nama-Rupa) – Mentality: Feeling, perception, volition, contact, attention.
– Materiality: four great elements (patavi, Apo, Thejo, Vayo) and the material form derived from them.
– Arising by consciousness, cessation by eradication of it.
Consciousness (vinnana) – Six classes: Eye consciousness, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind
– Arising by Sankharas (Formations) cessation by eradication of it.
Formations (Sankharas) –
3 kinds: Bodily formation, verbal and mental.
– Arising by ignorance, cessation by eradication of it.
Ignorance (Avijja) – not knowing the four nobel truths.
– Arising by taints, cessation by eradication of it.
Taints (Asavas) – 3 taints: taint of sensual desire, of being and ignorance Arising by ignorance, cessation by eradication of it.
Thus the aforesaid conditions should be understood and the way leading to the cessation of them would be the noble eight fold path. Therefore by any of the aforesaid ways one could arrive at right view.
Conditions for the arising of Right View
1. Voice of another (Parato Ghosa) i.e. by listening to a sermon, dhamma discussion etc.
2. wise attention (Yoniso Manasikara) These conditions have been set out in the Mahavedalla sutta, No. 43 in the Majjima Nikaya.
Levels of Samma Diththi (Right view)
The Mahacattarissaka Sutta (Majjima Nikaya) Sutta 117, (Translation of Bhikkhu Bodhi) gives the two levels of right view.
1. Right view affected by the taints, partaking of merit, ripening on the side of attachment:- There is what (Atthi dinnam) is given and what is (Atthi rettam) offered and what is sacrificed (Atthi Hutam), there is fruit and result of good and bad action; there is this world and the other world; there is father and mother, there are beings who are born spontaneously; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and Brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.
2. Right view, that is, Noble, taintless, supramundane, a factor of the Path. The wisdom, the faculty of wisdom, the power of wisdom, the investigation of states enlightment factor, the path factor of right view in one whose mind is noble, whose mind is taintless, who possesses the nobel path and is developing the noble path.
Thus it would seem that there is kind of right view that it purely of a mundane nature, while the attainment of the supramundane path would require the cultivation of the higher level of right view.
The cultivation of right view of the higher level would firmly set one on the correct path and be the stepping stone to the practice of the other seven factors of the noble eightfold path which would ultimately result in the attainment of Nibbana.
A study of the Sammaditthi sutta and the Mahacattarissaka sutta would be greatly beneficial to those in the quest of emancipation.
(Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Suttas have been utilised for this article.)