Right View (Sammaditthi Sutta): A Clear Awareness of The Mind

Author : Phổ Nguyệt

I.  Definition

Right View or Right Understanding ( Samyagdrsti:(skt): Right understanding, right views, or knowledge of the four noble truths is the highest wisdom which sees the Ultimate Reality. That is to say to see things as they are—Understanding the four noble truths, the first of the eightfold noble path. Categories of Right Understanding- According to Dr. K. Sri. Dhammananda in the Gems of Buddhism Wisdom, there are two sorts of understanding: 1)    an accumulated of memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data; 2)   Real deep understanding, a penetration or an intellectual seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and external label.  This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation. (BDVE).  In the first meaning, Right View can be a clear awareness to the Mind and Right View in second meaning is the feeling of sensation. Now, we need to know its entire meaning. In general, this is a discussion of Right Understanding  describing how the four noble truths from which the dependent appearance and the knowledge end  mental fermentation and come to  the basic dichotomy between right  and  wrong  action. With the psychological structure, we can apply the Venerable Sariputta’s teaching for understanding and practicing the path correctly.

 

II. Psychological View

      a) Sensations and Perceptions.

       The characteristics of sensation are common to all.. First, the individual sensory organs are stimulated by a specific and different form of external or internal energy: vision  (eyes + material shapes = visual consciousness) is stimulated by electromagnetic energy (or light); hearing (ear + sounds = auditory consciousness), by sound waves; smell (nose + smells = olfactory consciousness) by new stimuli olfactory system; taste (tongue + tastes = gustatory consciousness by papillae; touch (body + tangibles = tactile consciousness) by a stimulus of the skin or body; and feeling (mind mental + objects = mental consciousness) whereby the brain interprets the sensations it receives, giving them order and meaning. All perceptions are conscious ones and people are aware of things  perceived and how they interpret them. Perceptions are limited from senses. "Sensation is essentially the process whereby stimulation of receptor cells in various parts of the body (the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and surface of skin) sends nerve impulses to the brain, where these impulses register as a touch, a sound, a taste, a plash of color, and so forth. Perception, in contrast, is the process whereby the brain interprets the sensations it receives, giving them order and meaning" (Psychology, Wortman and Loftus, 1981). All perceptions are conscious ones and people are aware of things  perceived and how they interpret them. Perceptions are limited from senses.

      b) Cognition.

     When we took a cognitive perspective, we would offer insight. Cognitive involves the formation of the concepts, schemas, theories, and other mental abstractions. When we cognize a part of six senses (sensations), we get a cognition. The cognitions are not limited. . They are empty, broad, spacious, and with space-time.

            " Perceive a part of senses (sensation) to get a perception.

             Cognize the perception to get a cognition." (Pho Nguyet)

       c) Pure Cognition.

      Buddha-wisdom, innocent mind in all which is independent of birth and death, one of the three states of mind or consciousness mentioned in the Lankavatara Sutra. When we cognize a pure perception, we get a pure cognition. The pure cognition to the true mind is without space-time. It is empty, broad, wonderful, bright, real, absolute, and without space-time.

True Mind = Pure Cognition + without space-time

"Perceive a first point of a sense to get a pure perception.

"Cognize the pure perception to get a pure cognition and separate it. It is a True Mind or an Absolute Entity."

 

III. The Venerable Sariputta’s Teaching

The Venerable Sariputta said to the bhikkhus in what way is a noble disciple one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at the true Dhamma. First, the Wholesome and Unwholesome are necessary to be known. The Venerable Sariputta’ s teaching  was based on the primary fundamental doctrine of Sakyamuni (of the Blessed One) explaining to the bhikkhus. The Four dogmas or noble truths (Catvari-arya-satyani) are including suffering, the cause of suffering, the possibility of its cure or extinction, and the way to extinction. Based on Four dogmas, Sariputta, said this:

3. "When, friends, a noble disciple understands the unwholesome, the root of the unwholesome, the wholesome, and the root of the wholesome, in that way he is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

4. "And what, friends, is the unwholesome, what is the root of the unwholesome, what is the wholesome, what is the root of the wholesome?
Killing living beings is unwholesome; taking what is not given is unwholesome; misconduct in sensual pleasures is unwholesome; false speech is unwholesome; malicious speech is unwholesome; harsh speech is unwholesome; gossip is unwholesome; covetousness is unwholesome; ill will is unwholesome; wrong view is unwholesome. This is called the unwholesome

5. "And what is the root of the unwholesome? Greed is a root of the unwholesome; hate is a root of the unwholesome; delusion is a root of the unwholesome. This is called the root of the unwholesome

6. "And what is the wholesome?
Abstention from killing living beings is wholesome; abstention from taking what is not given is wholesome; abstention from misconduct in sensual pleasures is wholesome; abstention from false speech is wholesome; abstention from malicious speech is wholesome; abstention from harsh speech is wholesome; abstention from gossip is wholesome; non-covetousness is wholesome; non-ill will is wholesome; right view is wholesome. This is called the wholesome.

7. "And what is the root of the wholesome?
Non-greed is a root of the wholesome; non-hate is a root of the wholesome; non-delusion is a root of the wholesome. This is called the root of the wholesome

8. "When a noble disciple has thus understood the unwholesome, the root of the unwholesome, the wholesome, and the root of the wholesome, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit 'I am,' and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma."

From Four dogmas, the Venerable Sariputta ‘s words were delighted and rejoiced by the bhikkhus, then they asked him further questions such as Nutriment, Twelve- Link Chain (Nidana (skt) (Aging and Death,  Birth, Being, Clinging, Craving, Feeling, Contact, The Sixfold Base, Mentality-Materiality, Consciousness, Formation, and Ignorance}, Taint.  Understanding the formation of these things,  one can open clearly a road to have perfect confidence in the Dhamma, and have arrived at this true Dhamma.

For instance,

69. "When, friends, a noble disciple understands the taints, the origin of the taints, the cessation of the taints, and the way leading to the cessation of the taints, in that way he is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma.

70. "And what are the taints, what is the origin of the taints, what is the cessation of the taints, what is the way leading to the cessation of the taints? There are three taints: the taint of sensual desire, the taint of being and the taint of ignorance. With the arising of ignorance there is the arising of the taints. With the cessation of ignorance there is the cessation of the taints. The way leading to the cessation of the taints is just this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration”.

71. "When a noble disciple has thus understood the taints, the origin of the taints, the cessation of the taints, and the way leading to the cessation of the taints, he entirely abandons the underlying tendency to lust, he abolishes the underlying tendency to aversion, he extirpates the underlying tendency to the view and conceit 'I am,' and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma."

All living beings and things in the universe are interrelated in order to come into being. This is a “must.” The twelve nidanas is the twelve links of Dependent Origination—The twelve links in the chain of existence. Conditioned arising or interdependent arising. All psychological and physical phenomena constituting individual existence are interdependent and mutually condition each other. This is the twelve-link chain which entangles sentient beings in samsara.(BDVE)

Understanding this teaching, one needs to learn and apply it to the daily life.

IV. Practical Dharma

 To cultivate a true Dhamma of the Right View.

 There are two methods:

1.     An accumulated of memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. Example,

The Four Frames of Reference

"[1] Now, on whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in... &... out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in... &... out calming the bodily processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you that this — the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[2] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... &... out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in... &... out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in... &... out sensitive to mental processes; trains himself to breathe in... &... out calming mental processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you that this — close attention to in-&-out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world

"[3] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... &... out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in... &... out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in... &... out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in... &... out releasing the mind: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I don't say that there is mindfulness of in-&-out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.

"[4] On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in... &... out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in... &... out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in... &... out focusing on cessation; trains himself to breathe in... &... out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed & distress is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. (Ananda Sutta - Samyutta Nikaya)

"This is how mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is developed & pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination.

Breath in & out is the simplest and easiest way to practice. Using the pure cognition, one can do as follows:

1.     By reading breath.(in word)

I discern reading breath- in

           I discern reading breath- out

     b. By perceiving breath (In silent consciousness)

            I discern perceiving breath- in

            I discern perceiving breath-out

3.     By cognizing breath (In silent cognition)

I discern cognizing breath-in

I discern cognizing breath-out

When one has attained the first jhana, speech has ceased. When one has attained the second jhana, directed thought & evaluation have ceased.
When one has attained the third jhana, rapture has ceased(Rahogata Sutta- Samyutta Nikaya)

      2)   Real deep understanding, a penetration or an intellectual seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and external label. 

This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation. (BDVE).

In the first meaning, Right View can be a clear awareness to the mind. By the second meaning, Right View is deeper; It is the clear awareness of the feeling, because the name of the object has ceased. The name of a perceived object is a consciousness (or perception). An intellectual seeing an object in its true nature, without name and external label is an only feeling. So one cultivates the path as follows:

           d. By feeling breath (In silent Sensation without cognition)

                I feel a movement-in (without breath-in)

                I feel a movement-out.(without the name of the breath)


When one has attained the fourth jhana, in-and-out breathing has been calmed. (Rahogata Sutta- Samyutta Nikaya)

V. Conclusion

Right View is the process to understand directly or indirectly the pure cognition. We cultivate the Right View to see the real objects, at the same time we cognize them in the Right Thought. Right  Mindfulness is perceived by consciousness while Right View is known by cognition. Right Mindfulness means to give heed to good deed for our own benefit and that of others; Right Mindfulness is a clear awareness of the consciousness. Because the Right View is a clear awareness to the Mind, we must practice It with two sorts, one by pure cognition, and other deeper without cognition, that is by pure feeling. Although these two sorts are different, they also conduct us  “ what qualities are to be realized through direct knowledge? Clear knowing & release: these are the qualities that are to be realized through direct knowledge” (Maha-salayatanika Sutta) and;

'I am,' and by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge he here and now makes an end of suffering. In that way too a noble disciple is one of right view, whose view is straight, who has perfect confidence in the Dhamma and has arrived at this true Dhamma."( Sammaditthi Sutta)