"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

September 6, 2012

The Importance of Right View in Looking at Self

Right View has two levels. First, there’s belief in the principle of karma, that what you do really does have results—and you really are the one doing it. It’s not some outside force acting through you, not the stars or some god or some force of fate. You’re making the decisions and you have the ability to make them skillfully or not, depending on your intention. It’s important to believe in this principle because this is what gives more power to your life.

It’s an empowering belief—but it also involves responsibilities. This is why you have to be careful in what you do, why you can’t be heedless. When you’re careful about your actions, it’s easier to be careful about your mind when the time comes to meditate.

As for the second level of Right View, the transcendent level, that means seeing things in terms of the four noble truths: stress and suffering, the cause of stress and suffering, the cessation of stress and suffering, and the path of practice to that cessation.

Just look at the whole range of your experience: Instead of dividing it up into its usual patterns of me and not me, simply look to see, “Where is there suffering? Where is there stress? What goes along with it? What are you doing that gives rise to that stress? Can you let go of that activity? And what qualities do you need to develop, what things do you need to let go of in order to let go of the craving, the ignorance underlying the stress? When you drop craving can you be aware of what’s happening?” All too often when we drop one craving we simply pick up another one. “Can you make yourself more and more aware of that space in between the cravings and expand that space? What’s it like to have a mind without craving?”

According to the Buddha it’s important to see things in this way because if you identify everything in terms of your self, how can you possibly understand anything for what it actually is? If you hold on to suffering as your self, how can you understand suffering? If you look at it simply as suffering without putting this label of “me” or “mine” on it, you can start seeing it for what it is and learn how to let it go. If it’s your self, if you hold to that belief that it’s your self, you can’t let go of it. But looking at things in terms of the four noble truths allows you to solve the problem of suffering once and for all.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu
A Meditative Life


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