March 7, 2020; revised March 9, 2020
1. We started this series of posts with “The Framework of Buddha Dhamma” to understand the details in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11.) As we noted, Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta provides only an outline of the framework of Buddha Dhamma. Then in the subsequent post, “The Suffering (Dukkha) in the First Noble Truth,” we noted that the Buddha pointed out that there are two “good paths” and “two bad paths.”
The Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (MN 117) describes those four paths. Any given person is on one of those four paths at a given time.
- One could be on two paths that are certain to lead to much suffering in the apāyā.
- There are also two “good” paths. One COULD lead to rebirths in “good” realms. The other is the Noble Path leading to Nibbāna.
- It all depends on the types of views about the world. One with the ten types of micchā diṭṭhī (wrong views) will be on one of the two paths leading to much future suffering.
- We will discuss the “two bad paths” in this post and the “two good paths” in the next post.
2. One who has removed the ten types of micchā diṭṭhī initially have mundane Sammā Diṭṭhī. They are on the path towards “good rebirths.” However, that is NOT a guarantee for all future rebirths, since one could switch back to having wrong views in the future.
- Someone who has removed the ten types of micchā diṭṭhī CAN go beyond that and remove the possibility of switching back to wrong views by comprehending the “real Nature,” i.e., gain “yathābhūta ñāṇa.” That means comprehending Tilakkhana or the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature. At that point, one will be on the Noble Path and WILL reach Nibbāna within a limited number of rebirths in good realms.
- I will only discuss sections of the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta (MN 117) to discuss the four types of possible paths. The Pāli version and translations to several languages are at that link.
Steps to Nibbāna – Sammā diṭṭhi, Sammā Samādhi, Sammā Vimutti
3. At the beginning of the sutta, the Buddha says: “Bhikkhus, I shall teach you sammā samādhi with its necessary supports ( saupanisaṃ or “with upanisa“) and essentials (saparikkhāraṃ or “with parikkhāra.)
“What is Noble sammā samādhi with its necessary supports? Those are sammā diṭṭhi, sammā saṅkappo, sammā vācā, sammā kammanto, sammā ājīvo, sammā vāyāmo, sammā sati. That is sammā samādhi, reached with the purification of mind, and equipped with those seven supporting factors.”
- It is to be noted that one starts the Noble Path with Sammā Diṭṭhi or the “right views.” That sequentially lead to Sammā Samādhi or the eighth factor.
- Sammā Diṭṭhi leading to Sammā Vimutti (or Arahanthood) is reached in TWO STEPS. The first stage of mundane Sammā Diṭṭhi is reached by getting rid of the ten types of wrong views (micchā diṭṭhī.)
- Once one completes the mundane path with mundane Sammā Diṭṭhi, one is able to start comprehending Tilakkahana (anicca, dukkha, anatta.) At that point, one is a Sōtapanna Anugāmi and is on the Noble Path. He/she can get to “total release from all suffering” (Sammā Vimutti) via four stages of Sōtapanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, Arahant.
Ten types of wrong views (Micchā Diṭṭhī)
4. “Therein, bhikkhus, sammā diṭṭhi (right view) comes first. And how does the right view come first? One understands the wrong views (micchā diṭṭhī) as the wrong views and right view as the correct view. That is one’s right view.
“And what are the wrong views?
(i) No profit in giving (dāna.)
(ii) No corresponding benefits in making offerings in a large scale.
(iii) Respecting and making offerings to those with higher virtues has no merits.
(iv) Good and bad actions (kamma) do not lead to corresponding results (vipāka.)
(v)This world (ayaṃ loko) does not exist.
(vi) Para loka (of gandhabba) does not exist.
(vii) Mother is not a special person.
(viii) Father is not a special person.
(ix) Living-beings cannot be reborn spontaneously (sattā opapātikā.)
(x) There are no virtuous recluses in the world who have seen for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the para loka exist.
- Those are the wrong views. These are stated precisely the same way in over 30 suttā in the Tipiṭaka because of their importance. A partial list for such suttā: SN 24.5, AN 3.117 through AN 3.119, AN 10. 211, MN 42, MN 110, MN 41, MN 60, MN 76, DN 5, DN 34.
Why Are Those Views Bad? – Laws of Kamma
5. Before proceeding with the sutta, we need to ask, “why are those views bad and why are they so critical?”
- As we have discussed in the previous two posts, the worldview of the Buddha is VERY different from that of an average human. An average human is unaware of the existence of 31 realms and the endless rebirth process within those 31 realms.
- The mechanism that sustains the rebirth process within the 31 realms is the fact that kammā (specifically meritorious and immoral actions) have their corresponding vipāka. The first four wrong views are associated with not having a good understanding of kamma/kamma vipāka.
- Rebirths among the 31 realms are based on kamma vipāka (results of previous kamma.) We discussed that briefly in #6 in the previous post, “The Suffering (Dukkha) in the First Noble Truth.“
6. There is a rebirth process WITHIN the human existence (human bhava,) where one is repeatedly reborn with a human body many times. In between those human rebirths, that life-stream is in the para loka as a gandhabba (i.e., just with a “mostly mental” body.) That is why there are so many rebirth stories, where especially children, talk about their previous human lives (jāti.) On the other hand, it is very difficult to get a human existence (bhava.) It is necessary to understand the difference between bhava and jāti.
- Most people reject the laws of kamma because they cannot “see” the consequences of some deeds (kamma) in this life. But all causes lead to results. But there must be the right conditions for the results to appear. A seed does not germinate until the right conditions arise. See, “What Does “Paccayā” Mean in Paṭicca Samuppāda?” That is why there is a “time delay” between kamma and kamma vipāka.
- Buddha Dhamma is amazingly self-consistent. It just takes an effort to see these “inter-connections.” If one becomes interested and makes an effort, there will be many “Aha!” moments. That is when one starts having “real faith” or “saddhā.”
Why Are Those Views Bad? – Rebirth Process Within 31 Realms
7. It is very frustrating to be in the para loka as a gandhabba without a physical body. One cannot eat, smell, or touch (and have sex.) One is in the kāma loka BECAUSE one craves those sensory pleasures. On the spiritual side, it is impossible to concentrate and make any progress on the path either. That is why one should be grateful to the mother and father for providing an opportunity to be born with a physical body. The wrong views number five through eight arise because one is unaware of that process involving “this world that we experience” and the “para loka of the gandhabbā.”
- For a crude, but good, visualization of the gandhabba and para loka see the post, “Ghost 1990 Movie – Good Depiction of Gandhabba Concept.”
- The ninth wrong view arises because one is not aware of the existence of realms other than the human and animal realms. Many living-beings (sattā) are reborn spontaneously (opapātikā) in many of those realms. In such births — unlike in the human and animal realms — one is not born a baby and grows to an adult; rather, the birth is in the “final form.” Of course, many living beings do not have dense physical bodies like ours.
- Finally, it is possible to cultivate (Ariya or anariya) jhāna and be able to see one’s previous lives. It is not easy to develop abhiññā powers to see previous other existences (bhava) such as previous existence in animal or Deva realms, for example. However, it is relatively easy to see one’s past human lives WITHIN the current human bhava. Many can do that even today, including some children (rebirth accounts.) Discarding such true statements as “mere speculation” is the tenth wrong view.
Those With Micchā Diṭṭhi Are Destined to be Reborn in Niraya
8. As clearly states in the following sutta, those with micchā diṭṭhī end up in niraya (the lowest of the apāyā.) On the other hand, those who do not have any of the ten types of micchā diṭṭhī (and thus have mundane sammā diṭṭhi) are likely to be reborn in the higher realms at or above the human realm (collectively labeled sagga.)
The Diṭṭhi Sutta (AN 4.212) is short:
- “Catūhi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato yathābhataṃ nikkhitto evaṃ niraye. Katamehi catūhi? Kāyaduccaritena, vacīduccaritena, manoduccaritena, micchā diṭṭhiyā—imehi kho, bhikkhave, catūhi dhammehi samannāgato yathābhataṃ nikkhitto evaṃ niraye.
- Catūhi, bhikkhave, dhammehi samannāgato yathābhataṃ nikkhitto evaṃ sagge. Katamehi catūhi? Kāyasucaritena, vacīsucaritena, manosucaritena, sammā diṭṭhiyā—imehi kho, bhikkhave, catūhi dhammehi samannāgato yathābhataṃ nikkhitto evaṃ sagge”ti.
- “Bhikkhave, those who proficient in four types of dhammā (these are sometimes specifically called adhammā or “bad dhammā”), are bound to be born in the niraya. Those four types are bad conduct with body, speech, and mind, and having wrong views.” Those are dasa akusala.
- “Bhikkhave, those who proficient in four types of dhammā, are bound to be born in the good realms. Those four types are good conduct with body, speech, and mind, and having removed wrong views.” They are dasa kusala.
- Of course, niraya (hell) is the lowest realm of the 31 realms. A good sutta to read about rebirths in bad realms due to dasa akusala and also rebirths in good realms due to the avoidance of dasa akusala is “Paṭhamanirayasagga Sutta (AN 10.211).” That link gives two English translations.
Two Paths for Those With Micchā Diṭṭhi
9. Towards the end of the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta, the Buddha states that there are two paths (and 20 factors) with correct views (vīsati kusala pakkhā) and two paths (and 20 factors) with wrong views (vīsati akusala pakkhā). There are forty factors in all, and hence the name mahā cattārīsaka: “Iti kho, bhikkhave, vīsati kusala pakkhā, vīsati akusala pakkhā—mahā cattārīsako dhammapariyāyo pavattito appaṭivattiyo samaṇena vā brāhmaṇena vā devena vā mārena vā brahmunā vā kenaci vā lokasmiṃ.”
Mahācattārīsaka Sutta does not go into details about the two paths with wrong views. However, there are several suttā in the Aṅguttara nikaya (AN 4.204 through AN 4. 210) that specifically discuss those two paths for those with wrong views.
- Dasakamma Sutta (AN 4.204) states that one who engages in dasa akusala (that includes having wrong views) is an immoral person (asappuriso.)
- If that person also encourages or teaches others to engages in such activities, then he/she becomes a highly-immoral person (asappurisena asappurisataro.) Here, asappurisataro with “taro” at the end emphasizes the intense immorality. Note that a highly-immoral person has the same types of wrong views, but they are much more ingrained or established in the mind.
- The opposites are valid for a moral person (sappuriso) and a highly-moral person (sappurisena sappurisataro.)
- Dasa akusala discussed at, “Ten Immoral Actions (Dasa Akusala).”
10. The Paṭhamapāpadhamma Sutta (AN 4.207) states the same in another revealing way. “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, pāpo? Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco pāṇātipātī hoti … pe … micchādiṭṭhiko hoti. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, pāpo.”
- That means a person who engages in dasa akusala (including killing, stealing,..wrong views) is a pāpo or an immoral person.
The next verse: “Katamo ca, bhikkhave, pāpena pāpataro? Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco attanā ca pāṇātipātī hoti, parañca pāṇātipāte samādapeti … pe … attanā ca micchādiṭṭhiko hoti, parañca micchādiṭṭhiyā samādapeti. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, pāpena pāpataro.”
- If that person then also encourages others to engages in such activities (or teaches wrong views), then he/she becomes a highly-immoral person (pāpena pāpataro.)
Note that the two suttā uses two different words to indicate an immoral person, asappuriso and pāpo. Both mean “an immoral person.”
11. Those with extreme wrong views (i.e., highly-immoral persons) can get to micchā vimutti (and become someone like Hitler or Pol Pot in Cambodia.) It is extremely difficult to change the mindset of such a person. However, it is possible to do that as illustrated in the example of Angulimāla who had killed almost a thousand people but attained Arahanthood, see, “Account of Angulimāla – Many Insights to Buddha Dhamma.”
- In the next post, we will discuss the two “good paths” with two corresponding “correct views” in detail. Here one first gets to the mundane Sammā Diṭṭhi by cultivating ten factors that are opposites of the ten factors in micchā diṭṭhi.
- We will see that one with mundane Sammā Diṭṭhi can get to Ariya sammā diṭṭhi by learning the true teachings of the Buddha on the Four Noble Truths. Specifically, one needs to comprehend that the “suffering” in the First Noble Truth is the suffering associated with the rebirth process.
- When one starts comprehending the First Noble Truth by grasping the anicca, dukkha, anatta nature of this world, one becomes a Sōtapanna Anugāmi. That understanding becomes complete at Arahanthood and one attains Sammā Ñāṇa (by fully comprehending “yathābhūta ñāṇa”) and Sammā Vimutti (release from all future suffering.)
- We will discuss that in the next post and complete the discussion on the Mahācattārīsaka Sutta regarding the four possible paths.