The Buddha taught
the truth about all realities which appear in daily life: seeing, hearing,
attachment, hardness, softness, heat, cold and all the other phenomena
which can be experienced. However, we are ignorant of the realities in
and around ourselves and we have wrong view about them.
What is wrong view? It is a distorted view of realities, a misinterpretation
of them. Do we, for example, know hearing as only an element which hears
or do we still cling to an idea of self who hears? Do we know sound as
it is, as only a reality which can be heard, or do we take what is heard
for a "person" or a "thing" such as a voice or a car? Person, voice and
car are concepts we can think of but which cannot be heard. Hearing and
thinking occur at different moments and these realities experience different
objects. Only one object can be experienced at a time through the appropriate
doorway, but we still have many misunderstandings about reality. Through
the study of the Dhamma we may have acquired theoretical understanding
of realities as being impermanent and non-self, but wrong view cannot be
eradicated through theoretical understanding. It can only be eradicated
through the practice, through the development of the eightfold Path.
The Atthasalini (II, Part IX, Chapter I, 248) gives the following
definition of wrong view, ditthi:
... It has
unwise conviction as characteristic; perversion as function; wrong conviction
as manifestation; the desire not to see the ariyans as proximate cause.
It should be regarded as the highest fault.
(XIV, 164) gives a similar definition of ditthi. The Dhammasangani
(38) calls ditthi a "wrong road" and the Atthasalini (II, Part IX,
Chapter II, 253) explains :
... From being
not the right path, it is a "wrong path". For just as one who is gone astray,
although he holds that this is the path to such a village, does not arrive
at a village, so a man of false opinions, although he holds that this is
the path to a happy destiny, cannot get there; hence from being not the
right path it is a wrong path...
Ditthi has unwise conviction
(1 In Pali: ayoniso abhinivesa, unwise inclination, unwise adhering.) as
characteristic. When there is ditthi one clings to a false view of reality,
Its function is "perversion" (2 In Pali: paramasa, derived from paramasati,
to touch, to hold on to, to be attached or fall a victim to.): because
of ditthi one takes for permanent what is impermanent, one takes for self
what is not self. Ignorance covers up the true nature of realities and
wrong view sees them wrongly, in a distorted way. Ditthi is a factor of
the wrong Path. If one follows the wrong Path defilements cannot be eradicated
and thus there will be no end to the cycle of birth and death. Because
of ditthi someone may believe that his wrong practice can lead to purification
of defilements. In the scriptures we read about people in the Buddha's
time who followed different ways of wrong practice; they behaved like a
dog or like a cow, because they thought that such practices would lead
to purification (3 This is "clinging to rules and ritual", silabbatupadana.
See Dialogues of the Buddha III, no. 24, Mystic Wonders, I, 7.)
So long as ditthi has not been eradicated there are conditions for deviating
from the right Path, even though one may have theoretical understanding
of the right Path. The Buddha taught that all realities which appear through
the six doors can be object of mindfulness. One may be inclined to think
that it is not possible to know nama and rupa which appear now, in daily
life. Some people believe that they have to follow certain rules with regard
to the development of satipatthana, such as, for example, refraining from
reading or talking. They think that they have to go to a quiet place where
there is no noise, in order to have less akusala cittas. In the beginning
we all may be inclined to believe that we should not be aware of akusala
dhammas, but also akusala dhammas have characteristics which can be known
and understood. If they are not known as they are, as namas which arise
because of their own conditions, they cannot be eradicated. Even dullness
or forgetfulness of nama and rupa is a reality of daily life and it has
a characteristic which can be known. It is important to know the difference
between the moments of awareness and the moments of forgetfulness. There
is forgetfulness of realities very often but sometimes mindfulness may
arise and then we can learn the difference.
The proximate cause of ditthi is "the desire not to see the ariyans"( 4
See "The Mulapariyaya Sutta and its Commentarial Exegesis", translated
by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, BPS. Kandy, 1980. In the commentary to this sutta
("The Root of Existence", Middle Length Sayings I, no. 1), in the
"Papancasudani", it is explained that "the desire not to see the ariyans",
or being without regard for the ariyans, means that one does not realize
the three characteristics of impermanence, dukkha and anatta; that one
does not attain the dhamma attained by the ariyans.), being without regard
for them, If one does not listen to the Dhamma as it is explained by the
"good friend in Dhamma" and does not put it into practice, there are no
conditions for the development of right understanding. Instead of listening
to the right friend one may associate with the wrong person. We read in
the Book of Analysis (Chapter 17, 901) about evil friendship :
is "having evil fiends"? There are those persons who are without confidence
(1 Ayoniso manasikara, unwise attention.) Confidence in what is wholesome),
of wrong morality, without learning, mean, of no wisdom. That which is
dependence on, strong dependence on, complete dependence on, approaching,
approaching intimately, devotion to, complete devotion to, entanglement
with them. This is called having evil friends.
Those who have accumulations
for the development of right understanding have conditions to meet the
right friend in the Dhamma and those who have tendencies to wrong view
are bound to associate with people who have wrong view and thus they accumulate
more and more wrong view.
Wrong view should be regarded as the "highest fault". Wrong view is dangerous
because it can lead to many kinds of evil. We read in the Gradual Sayings
(Book of the Ones, Chapter XVII):
Monks, I know
not of any other single thing so apt to cause the rising of evil states
not yet arisen, or if arisen, to cause their more-becoming and increase,
as perverted view. . .
We read of each case that
the opposite is true for right view. Further on, in the same chapter, we
read that wrong view is compared to a nimbseed, the seed of a creeper or
of a cucumber:
Monks, in one of perverted view evil states not yet arisen do arise, and
if arisen, are apt to grow and grow...
Monks, I know not of any other single thing so apt to cause the non-arising
of good states not yet arisen, or, if arisen, to cause their waning, as
perverted view. ..
Monks, in one of perverted view good states not yet arisen arise not, or,
if arisen, waste away. . .
Monks, I know not of any other single thing so apt to cause the arising
of perverted view, if not yet arisen, or the increase of perverted view,
if already arisen, as unsystematic attention.
In him who gives not systematic attention perverted view, if not arisen,
does arise, or, if already arisen, does increase.
Monks, I know not of any other single thing so apt, when body breaks up
after death, to cause the rebirth of beings in the Waste, the Way of Woe,
the Downfall, in Hell, as perverted view...
essence it derives from earth or water, all that conduces to its bitterness,
its acridity, its unpleasantness. What is the cause of that? the ill nature
of the seed. Just so, monks, in a man of perverted view, all deeds whatsoever...
conduce to ill. What is the cause of that? Monks, it is perverted view.
Right view is compared
to a seed of sugar-cane, paddy or grape: "Whatsoever essence it derives
from earth or water, all that conduces to its sweetness, pleasantness and
delicious flavour." Even so in a man who has right view, all deeds conduce
In order to have more understanding of the implications of this sutta we
should consider the difference between the life of the non-ariyan and the
life of the sotapanna. The non-ariyan who has not eradicated wrong view
has conditions to commit akusala kamma patha which can lead to an unhappy
rebirth and thus he is in a dangerous situation. The sotapanna, who has
eradicated wrong view, has no conditions anymore to transgress the five
precepts, he has no conditions anymore to commit akusala kamma patha which
can cause an unhappy rebirth. He has eradicated stinginess and jealousy,
he is full of generosity. When one does not cling anymore to the concept
of self and sees realities as they are, this will bear on one's actions,
speech and thoughts.
Ditthi does not arise with every type of citta, Ditthi is connected with
clinging, it arises only with lobha-mula-citta. There are four types of
lobha-mula-citta which are accompanied by ditthi (ditthigata-sampayutta),
and of these types two are accompanied by pleasant feeling (somanassa)
and two by indifferent feeling (upekkha). They can be "unprompted" (asankharika,
not induced by someone else or oneself) or they can be "prompted" (sasankharika,
induced by someone else or by oneself) (1 See Abhidhamma in Daily Life,
Chapter 4.). Ditthi which arises with lobha-mula-citta always stands for
wrong view miccha-ditthi.
There are many kinds of wrong views and they are of different degrees.
There kinds of wrong view are unwholesome courses of action, akusala kamma
patha, through the mind, and these are capable of causing an unhappy rebirth.
They are the following three views:
1) There is no
result of kamma (natthika-ditthi)
2) There are
no causes (in happening, ahetuka-ditthi)
3) There is
no such thing as kamma ( akiriya-ditthi)
As regards the first
view, this was taught by Ajita Kesakambali (2 Middle Length Sayings
II, no. 60, On the Sure, 401.). He also taught that there is annihilation
The second view was taught by Makkhali. He taught that there is no cause
for the depravity or purity of beings, that there is no human effort and
that all living creatures are "bent by fate, chance and nature" (3 Ibidem,
407, and see also Dialogues of the Buddha I, no. 2, "The Fruits
of the Life of a Recluse", 54.) .
The third view was taught by Purana Kassapa (4 Middle Length Sayings
II, no. 60, 404.). He denied that there is akusala kamma and kusala kamma,
The tormenting of others is not an evil deed according to him.
Although these three views are distinct from each other, they are nevertheless
related. When one does not see kamma as cause one does not see its result
either, and when one does not see the result of kamma, one does not see
kamma as cause either (5 See also Kindred Sayings II, Khandha-vagga,
Kindred Sayings on Views, I, 5-7, and Dialogues of the Buddha I,
no. 2, 52.56, and Atthasalini I, Part III, Chapter V, 101.)
The above-mentioned three wrong views are akusala kamma patha through the
mind if one is firmly convinced about them. These three views in particular
are very dangerous, they can give rise to many evil deeds.
There are many other kinds of wrong views and, although they are not akusala
kamma patha, they are still dangerous. The scriptures often refer to the
view and to the annihilationisticview. Eternalism is the belief
that there is a "self" who is permanent. Annihilationism is the belief
that there is a "self" who will be annihilated after death. There is also
a "semi-eternalistic view": one holds that some phenomena are eternal while
others are not. One may sometimes cling to the eternalistic view and sometimes
to the annihilistic view.
In the Brahma-jala-sutta ("The All-Embracing Net of Views"
Dialogues of the Buddha I, no, 1) sixty-two kinds of Wrong
view are mentioned. Of these there are eighteen speculative theories concerning
the past, and forty-four concerning the future. There are speculative theories
about the world being finite or infinite, about the origin of the " soul"
or the world. There are speculations about good and evil and about nibbana.
People of all times have been inclined to speculative theories and also
today we can see that such views still persist. When we speculate about
past lives and future lives we may cling to a "self" who "travels" from
one life to another. we are so used to thinking in terms of self. As regards
annihilationism, those who believe that there is a soul or self who will
be annihilated after death do not realize that the dying-consciousness
which falls away is succeeded by the rebirth-consciousness of the next
life so long as there are conditions for rebirth. Annihilationism is different
from the wisdom which sees the impermanence, the arising and falling away,
of nama and rupa. For the arahat there are no conditions for rebirth, his
dying-consciousness is not succeeded by rebirth-consciousness. This is
not annihilation, it is freedom from the cycle of birth and death. The
arahat has cultivated the right conditions for the attainment of this freedom.
When the wrong view of self has been eradicated one will not cling to speculative
theories anymore. But so long as one still believes in a self, one is bound
to cling to speculative theories. We all have accumulated "personality-belief"
or "sakkaya-ditthi". We read in the KindredSayings (lV, Salayatana-vagga,
Kindred sayings about Citta, 3, Isidatta) that the monk Isidatta said to
Citta, the housefather:
the untaught manyfolk, who discern not those who are ariyans, who are unskilled
in the ariyan doctrine, who are untrained in the ariyan doctrine... they
regard body as the self, they regard the self as having body, body as being
in the self, the self as being in the body.
Thus, there are
four kinds of the wrong view of personality-belief with regard to "body",
rupa-kkhandha. The same is said about the wrong views with regard to the
four nama-kkhandhas of feeling, perception, the " formations " or "activities"
and consciousness. Since there are four kinds of the wrong view of personality-belief,
sakkaya-ditthi, concerning each of the five khandhas, there are twenty
kinds of this wrong view in all (1 Dhammasangani, 1003). One may
cling with wrong view to the idea of "I see", "my body", "my will". But
they are only khandhas, conditioned elements which arise and fall away.
There is wrong view with regard to namas such as seeing, hearing or thinking,
and also with regard to rupas, such as hardness or visible object. One
may take a nama such as seeing for self, and one may also take visible
object for a person or a thing which exists. When we take things for self
we do not see them as elements which can, one at a time, be experienced
through the appropriate doorway. Visible object is only a kind of rupa
which can be experienced through the eyesense, it is not a person or a
thing, it falls away again. Sound is only a kind of rupa which can be experienced
through the earsense, it is not a person or a thing. Each citta which arises
experiences one object at a time through the appropriate doorway and then
falls away, it is quite different from the preceding citta. Seeing only
sees, it does not hear, it does not think. We read in the Book of Analysis
(Chapter 16, Analysis of Knowledge, 763):
"Do not experience
each other’s object" means: Ear-consciousness does not experience the object
of eye-consciousness; eye-consciousness does not experience the object
of ear-consciousness either. Nose-consciousness does not experience the
object of eye-consciousness: eye-consciousness does not experience the
object of nose-consciousness either. tongue-consciousness does not experience
the object of eye-consciousness: eye-consciousness does not experience
the object of tongue-consciousness either. Body-consciousness does not
experience the object of eye-consciousness; eye-consciousness does not
experience the object of body-consciousness either...
One tends to cling to
an idea of self who coordinates all the different experiences. Someone
may think that he can look at someone else and listen to his words at the
same time. The lists and classifications which we find in the Abhidhamma
are not meant to be used only for theoretical understanding, they are meant
to be used for the practice. They are reminders to be aware of the reality
which appears now so that wrong view can be eradicated. When hearing appears
there can be awareness of its characteristic so that right understanding
can know it as it is: as only a type of nama, not a self, who hears. We
may have doubts about the difference between the characteristic of hearing
and of the paying of attention to the meaning of the sound. We are inclined
to confuse all the six doorways. But hearing does not experience the object
of thinking. Intellectual understanding of realities can condition the
arising of mindfulness but we are usually infatuated with pleasant objects
and we reject unpleasant objects, we forget to be mindful. For example,
when we feel hot, we have aversion and then we ate forgetful of realities
such as heat, feeling or aversion.
So long as wrong view has not been eradicated it can still arise when there
ate conditions for its arising. Only through mindfulness will we be able
to know when it arises. When we think of concepts such as people and things
there is not necessarily wrong view. We can think of a person with kusala
citta, for example, when we have compassion for him. Or we can think of
a person with lobha-mula-citta without wrong view or with dosa-mula-citta.
Wrong view has to be eradicated first before other defilements can be eradicated.
As we have seen, the non-ariyan, who has not eradicated wrong view, still
has conditions to neglect the five precepts; he still has conditions for
killing, stealing, sexual misbehaviour, lying and the taking of intoxicants,
including alcoholic drinks. When we understand that the clinging to the
concept of self causes us many problems in life, that it leads to what
is unprofitable, we may see the benefit of the development of right understanding.
If we really see the danger of wrong view, it can condition the arising
of mindfulness and thus right understanding can develop. Right understanding
can only develop if there is mindfulness now, not if we merely think of
ways how to have more mindfulness later on.
What is an example of wrong practice which people may follow today?
Why is the proximate cause of wrong view "not to see ariyans"?
is the difference between annihilationism, the view that a self will be
annihilated after death, and the seeing of the impermanence of conditioned
In which way can one think of past lives with wrong view?
Personality view can be eradicated through mindfulness of nama and rupa.
Why is that so?
Why does one not cling to speculative theories anymore when personality
belief has been eradicated?
there is no awareness is there wrong view all the time?
is the difference between ignorance and wrong view?
Why are the three kinds of wrong view which are akusala kamma patha particularly
Why is it wrong to believe that we can see and hear at the same time?
Does the fact that wrong view has not been eradicated have any influence
on our morality (sila)?