June 22, 2019; revised October 23, 2019; March 1, 2021; June 20, 2022
Introduction – Two Types of Wrong Views
1. In the “Mahā Cattārisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty),“ the Buddha explained that there are two eightfold paths; also see “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart,” and the post referred to therein. Therefore, there are two types of sammā diṭṭhi, attained via the removal of two types of micchā diṭṭhi.
- First, one must follow the mundane eightfold path and eliminate the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi. That is the foundation to comprehend the nature of a broader world of 31 realms. One must realize the truth of kamma/kamma vipāka, rebirth process, that there is a paralōka where gandhabba lives, etc.; see, “Micchā Diṭṭhi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage.”
- The more profound wrong views of nicca, sukha, and atta can be removed, and one can then comprehend the real nature of this world of 31 realms (only after one gets rid of the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi); see “Three Marks of Existence – English Discourses.“
- When that happens, one becomes a Sōtapanna Anugāmi and starts on the Noble Eightfold Path.
2. Removal of sakkāya diṭṭhi is the basis of one’s start on the Noble Eightfold Path. It is about getting a “new vision” about the true nature of this world of 31 realms.
- That requires getting rid of the more in-depth wrong views (nicca, sukha, atta) about the nature of this world.
- In this post, we will discuss how “20 types of sakkāya diṭṭhi” is reached by getting rid of 5 types of wrong views on the five aggregates based on ucchēda diṭṭhi and 15 types of wrong views on the five aggregates based on sassata diṭṭhi.
Sakkāya as “Sath” + “Kāya”
3. In the previous post, “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi and Tilakkhana,” we discussed how sakkāya diṭṭhi is related to one’s cravings. Those cravings (upādāna) are for one’s body and other material things of perceived value (rupakkhandha). They also include one’s mental constituents that define those cravings (kandha or aggregates of vēdanā, saññā, saṅkhāra, and viññāna).
- As we saw in that post, The word “sakkāya” comes from “sath” + “kāya,“ which rhymes with “sakkāya.“ “Sath” means “good,” and “kāya” means “a collection” or “an aggregate” (it could also mean “physical body,” which is also a collection of parts). Thus “sakkāya” means those five aggregates (including one’s own body) are fruitful. Mental entities are also “collections” or “aggregates.”
- These cravings for the five aggregates arise because of the wrong views of ucchēda diṭṭhi or sassata diṭṭhi or views in between those two (with different combinations), as we discuss below.
Two Main Diṭṭhis (Deeper Wrong Views)
4. There are two main “diṭṭhis” or “wrong views” about the world discussed in the “Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1)“. I always provide the Pāli version of a sutta because sometimes the commonly available English translations have errors. I usually give a link to the Pāli version at Sutta Central. One can get translations to English — and even a few more languages — by clicking on the “hamburger icon” (represented by three short parallel lines) at the top left. Keep in mind that some translations there are incorrect.
- One is the ucchēda diṭṭhi, which says a “person” exists only until the death of the physical body; a “person” is nothing more than a collection of physical matter (molecules). When the “person” dies, that is the end of the story (uccēda means “cut off”).
- The second is sassata diṭṭhi — which is the exact opposite of the first (sassata means “eternal.”) It is the view that a “person” has a “mental body” that survives the death of the physical body: In Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), it is called the “soul,” which goes to either heaven or hell at death and will stay there forever. In Hinduism, it is called “ātma,” which merges with Mahā Brahma at some point and remains there forever.
- In the Brahmajāla Sutta (DN 1), the Buddha discusses 60 more wrong views, but those are variations of the above two. We can see that most scientists have the ucchēda diṭṭhi (that one’s physical body with its brain is all that is there.) Most religious people (in Abrahamic religions and Hinduism) have the sassata diṭṭhi that one’s soul or ātma lives forever.
5. If ucchēda diṭṭhi is the actual reality of the world, then suffering will end with the death of the physical body. Thus one may seek to “enjoy worldly pleasures” without paying attention to the harmful consequences of doing immoral deeds (when the temptation gets high enough).
- If sassata diṭṭhi is the actual reality of the world, suffering will never end because there is an “unchanging essence” that will survive the body’s death at any time. Even though the premise there is a “suffering-less, joyful realm” (merge with the Creator), the Buddha said that there is no such existence. All existences are subject to suffering simply because matter (rupa) is unstable. Any life with even a trace of tangible matter is inherently unstable. Modern science has confirmed this fact: “Second Law of Thermodynamics is Part of Anicca!“.
- In Buddha Dhamma, there is a manomaya kāya (gandhabba, mostly “mental” with just a few suddhashtaka or smallest units of matter) that survives the death of the physical body. Any existence in this world is associated with such a “mental body.” The mental body of a human or an animal is a gandhabba. However, that gandhabba also has a finite lifetime. See “Bhava and Jāti – States of Existence and Births Therein.”
- Buddha Dhamma says a living being (with manomaya kāya) comes into existence due to six root causes, but all six disappear with the removal of three root causes (lōbha, dōsa, mōha). If those root causes are present, there will be an associated life. And any being in this world has much more suffering than any short-lived happiness; see “Six Root Causes – Loka Samudaya (Arising of Suffering) and Loka Nirodhaya (Nibbāna)” and
“The Grand Unified Theory of Dhamma.”
6. Therefore, the concept in Buddha Dhamma is in between those two extremes of ucchēda diṭṭhi and sassata diṭṭhi.
- There is a mental body (manomaya kāya) with a trace of matter (gandhabba) that survives the death of the physical body. Still, that mental body is ever-changing, according to Paṭicca Samuppāda.
- Therefore, there is no everlasting “self” or a “ātma” or an “attā.” The denial of an eternal “attā” is called “anattā” (“na” + “attā“). That is one of several possible meanings of anattā; see “Anattā in Anattalakkahana Sutta – No Soul or a Ātma.”
- Since the death of the physical body is not the end of suffering, one will become helpless (anatta) in the rebirth process since births in the four lowest realms (apāyās) are unavoidable. That is another meaning of anatta (“na” + “atta“) or “without refuge or becoming helpless); see, “Anatta – No Refuge in This World.“ Here, atta means “with refuge.”
- When one understands this world view of the Buddha, one removes sakkāya diṭṭhi (together with vicikicca and silabbata parāmāsa) and attains the Sōtapanna stage.
Two Main Types of Character (Carita)
7. A revealing analysis of sakkāya diṭṭhi in terms of one’s character qualities (carita, pronounced “charitha”) is in the “Nayasamuṭṭhāna section” of the Nettippakarana (a Commentary in the Tipiṭaka). It defines the Four Noble Truths in terms of “sakkāya“: “Tattha diṭṭhicaritā rūpaṃ attato upagacchanti. Vedanaṃ … pe … saññaṃ … saṅkhāre … viññāṇaṃ attato upagacchanti. Taṇhācaritā rūpavantaṃ attānaṃ upagacchanti. Attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ, vedanāvantaṃ … pe … saññāvantaṃ … saṅkhāravantaṃ … viññāṇavantaṃ attānaṃ upagacchanti, attani vā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ, ayaṃ vuccati vīsativatthukā sakkāyadiṭṭhi“.
Translated: “A person with “characteristic wrong views” (diṭṭhicaritā) perceives “I am my body,” “I am my vēdanā,” “I am my saññā,” “I am my saṅkhāra,” and “I am my viññāna.” A person with “characteristic cravings for sense pleasures” (taṇhācaritā) perceives my body represents me; my body is in me, I am in my body. He sees vedanā..sañña..saṅkhāra..viññāṇa in the same three ways (e.g., my viññāṇa represents me, my viññāṇa is in me, I am in my viññāṇa) – that is twenty types of sakkāya diṭṭhi.
- Thus, there are five types (1 view for each aggregate) of sakkāya diṭṭhi due to ucchēda diṭṭhi and 15 types (3 views for each aggregate) of sakkāya diṭṭhi due to sassata diṭṭhi.
Diṭṭhicaritā With Uccēda Diṭṭhi and Taṇhācaritā With Sassata Diṭṭhi
8. From the same section of Nayasamuṭṭhāna of the Nettipakarana, we have two definitions for ucchēda diṭṭhi and sassata diṭṭhi.
“Tattha ye rūpaṃ attato upagacchanti. Vedanaṃ … pe … saññaṃ … saṅkhāre … viññāṇaṃ attato upagacchanti. Ime vuccanti “ucchedavādino”ti.”
“Ye rūpavantaṃ attānaṃ upagacchanti. Attani vā rūpaṃ, rūpasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Ye vedanāvantaṃ … pe … ye saññāvantaṃ … ye saṅkhāravantaṃ … ye viññāṇavantaṃ attānaṃ upagacchanti, attani vā viññāṇaṃ, viññāṇasmiṃ vā attānaṃ. Ime vuccanti “sassatavādino”ti, tattha ucchedasassatavādā ubho antā, ayaṃ saṃsārapavatti.”
Translated: “One with ucchēda diṭṭhi (ucchedavādino) perceives “I am my body,” “I am my vēdanā,” “I am my saññā,” “I am my saṅkhāra,” and “I am my viññāna.”
- In other words, One with ucchēda diṭṭhi attributes all five aggregates to the physical body. Thus, when the physical dies, that is the end of all five aggregates. No rebirth.
“One with sassata diṭṭhi (sassatavādino) perceives my body is me; my body is in me, I am in my body. He also perceives vedanā..sañña.. saṅkhāra.. viññāṇa in the same four ways (e.g., my viññāṇa is me, my viññāṇa is in me, I am in my viññāṇa)”.
Those with such extreme views are bound to the cycle of rebirths (saṃsāra)”.
- In other words, One with sassata diṭṭhi attributes all five aggregates to the mental body. Thus, even when the physical dies, the five aggregates will continue.
9. This verse introduces dividing anariyas (puthujjano) into two categories: (1) diṭṭhicarita or those with personalities dominated by the wrong vision of ucchēda diṭṭhi. (2) tanhacarita or those with characters dominated by the wrong view of sassata diṭṭhi. If you look at the definitions in #7 above, you will see that a diṭṭhicarita is one with ucchēda diṭṭhi, and a taṇhācaritā is one with sassata diṭṭhi.
- The last part says that the 20-types of sakkāya diṭṭhi are the combination of ucchēda and sassata diṭṭhis. Since all other 60 diṭṭhis or wrong visions about the world are different combinations or variations of ucchēda and sassata diṭṭhis, 20-types of sakkāya diṭṭhi include all the wrong views about “this world.”
Sōtapanna Stage – A New World View
10. Now we look at the last of the verse in #8 above, which gives another clue: “..tattha ucchedasassatavādā ubho antā, ayaṃ saṃsārapavatti.”
- Here, “ucchedasassatavādā” results from the combination of ucchēda sassata vādā, i.e.,ucchēda vādā and sassata vādā, where vāda means “argument or theory,” or in this case “view.” It says those two are the two extreme views.
- Then it says, “ayaṃ saṃsārapavatti.” That means those two extreme views lead to the continuation of the rebirth process! (saṃsāra pavatti, where “pavatti” means to “continue or sustain”).
- That makes perfect sense. One removes sakkāya diṭṭhi (and gets to the correct world view) by getting rid of the two main wrong views about the world of 31 realms, i.e., ucchēda diṭṭhi and sassata diṭṭhi, and any combination of them.
11. If a living being does not cease to exist at the death of the physical body (ucchēda diṭṭhi does not hold) AND if there is no “permanent essence of a being” like a soul or a ātma (sassata diṭṭhi does not hold), then what is the explanation?
- Continuation of a lifestream NOT ONLY at the death of the physical body but at ANY MOMENT is explained via the principle of causes and conditions (Paṭicca Samuppāda).
- One who gets to be a Sōtapanna comprehends this fact and realizes that there is nothing to be called “mine” because, in reality, there is absolutely nothing that can be under the control of “oneself”; see, “Anattā in Anattalakkahana Sutta – No Soul or a Ātma.”
- If one does not comprehend that, one will become helpless in the future, especially when reborn in an apāya; see “Anatta – No Refuge in This World.”
- That is why getting rid of Sakkāya diṭṭhi REQUIRES one to get rid of any trace of ucchēda diṭṭhi or sassata diṭṭhi.
- That is not possible until one first gets rid of the ten types of micchā diṭṭhi and gets a basic understanding of the broader world with 31 realms, laws of kamma, the existence of a paralōka with gandhabba, and the validity of the rebirth process; also see, “Buddhism without Rebirth and Nibbāna?“.
12. However, this is only a change of diṭṭhi vipallāsa (getting rid of muddled or distorted vision). There are two more vipallāsa (saññā vipallāsa and citta vipallāsa or “distorted perceptions and thoughts.”) Their removal happen at higher stages of Nibbāna; see, “Discourse 3 – Distorted Perceptions or Saññā Vipallāsa” in “Three Marks of Existence – English Discourses.“
- Therefore, getting rid of ALL wrong views starts at the Sōtapanna Anugāmi stage and is established at the Sōtapanna stage.
- However, all types of vipallāsa wear out step by step and ultimately go away only at the Arahant stage; see the forum discussion “Sakkāya Diṭṭhi and Tilakkhana.”