Eightfold Path: Take One — Right view or understanding
November 14, 2010 § 6 Comments
OK, so I’m several days late and a dollar short on this one but, well, that’s the way I roll. The Skeptical Readers of SL reading group just wrapped up a few weeks’ worth of discussion on the Eightfold Path, which was really great!
I think I’m pretty good on, at this point, basically understanding the premise of what the Path is for (I’m lazy, I’ll just call it “the Path” from now on), and what each part basically is for or asks us to do. My big problem always is remembering ALL THE PARTS OF THE PATH! Ugh.
My nightmare in school has always been anything that requires rote memorization, while really, for some things in life, it’s really the only way. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is what is required for me here, ultimately. Much to my dismay.
To help myself along though, I’m going to try to get myself to write a few thoughts per week on one part of the Path. So, the first part of the Path is Right View or Understanding.
So, in a simple world, this would just mean “seeing things as they are,” which on the surface would be a “duh” moment, right? Basically, instead of telling yourself that the chocolate chip cookie you just scarfed down on the sly ‘didn’t count’ because nobody saw you eat it, you have to own up to the fact that it DOES count, and that you’ve added 360 more calories to your intake for the day (or however many calories a cookie is, who keeps track?) It could also be that really “simple” idea of seeing others for what they are, who they are, accepting them as they are, etc. So, removing labels from them, taking away the stories WE ourselves invent around them (the lady dragging her kids behind her grumpily and yelling at them may NOT be a bad mom, just someone having a bad day, or something else).
Simple right? Sure, if we’re going to be simplistic about it. Realistically though, Right View is really difficult. Here’s a snippet from the Path from http://www.thebigview.com:
Right view is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realise the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.
This is not simply a question of what we tell ourselves, how we label others, or events. Right view is about “understanding things as they really are.” Not just people, THINGS, as in all of them. Death, birth, life, rocks, mountain, trees, people, politics, religion, dolphins, the ocean, countries, nationalities, languages, all of it.
“It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas …” So letting go of expectations — expecting events to turn out a certain way, building up anticipation for plans — whether it be for our plans for the day, or those darned “10-year plans” some of our professions ask us to have. Part of the Four Noble Truths referenced in the quote deals with the idea of suffering, and that suffering has a cause. Part of that cause is — especially as Westerners — having such a difficult time with the idea of not being in full control of our own destiny.
We grow up with this sense that if we work hard enough, long enough, if we do things ‘just so,’ that our lives will turn out the way we want it to. We have 100% responsibility over the OUTCOME, the MATERIAL outcome of our lives. Here’s the big question: Do we really?
No. I think we can all think of several occasions when our best laid plans were dashed thanks to unforseen events. How did we react to that? Be honest. I often pitch a complete, total, tantrum. Cursing may be involved. As well as stomping. Pouting. Definitely pouting, too.
Why? Why all this anguish? Because instead of seeing, or having understanding that in the end, this turnaround is NOT the end of the world (most of the time), we grow frustrated because our house of cards got knocked over by a breeze we weren’t expecting to pass by. What if we had no real expectations for this stack of cards? What if, WHAT IF, you just started stacking those cards up. Didn’t have a plan. Didn’t get all excited about building it up 6 feet high with some fancy geometric configuration in mind. What if, you just built it. And that’s it. Would you mind then, if it got knocked down? What would your VIEW be, of that event? Of the knocking down of the cards? Of the breeze that passed by?
Then, it would just be a breeze (rather than that $%#(* breeze that messed up my )#$%@! cards), and because you hadn’t formed any attachment, any idea or expectation for those cards, you’d walk away from them with less frustration, or, simply, just start again, curious to see what kind of house of cards you’ll build next.
There’s more to this idea than just what I’ve written here, but my point simply is — there’s more to the Path that one might initially see upon reading about it. Nothing is as simple as it seems — if you think it’s simple, you’re probably looking at it from the wrong angle, so change your perspective!
And that, is MY interpretation of Right View.
Wonder if it’s all wrong? LOL!