Ditthi (Wrong Views), Samma Ditthi (Good/Correct Views)

Revised April 2, 2016 and August 3, 2016

1. Ditthi means dogmatic belief in something(s) in the sense of “this alone is true and everything else is false regardless of the facts”. Even though micca ditthi (pronounced michchä ditthi) is actually the correct term (“ditthi” means “views” and “micca” is “wrong”), in Pali literature “ditthi” is used frequently instead of “micca ditthi“; the immoral cetasika is ditthi.

  • In the Buddha’s time it is said that there were 62 such dogmatic views that were the topics of frequent discussions; they are listed in the Brahmajala Sutta.
  • The ditthasava (asava for the 62 wrong views) is eliminated by ditthivissuddhi, i.e., cleansing of the wrong views at the Sotapanna stage.

2. Some of these dogmatic views that the Buddha had to frequently deal with were: there is a self, there is no self, reincarnation, no reincarnation, things exist, things do not exist, there are no laws of kamma, there are laws of kamma AND they are deterministic.

  • The Buddha refuted those all. Unfortunately, some of those wrong views are back in most versions of “Buddhism” today, most importantly the “no-self” (anäthma) concept.
  • We have discussed some (the first four items were discussed in several posts, for example, “What Reincarnates? – Concept of a Lifestream“, and “Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta“), and we will discuss others in detail in the future.

3. Ditthi (or micca ditthi) is also one of the ten immoral actions (ditthi is done by the mind and also leads to immoral speech and deeds; see below), and has already been discussed in, “Ten Immoral Actions (Dasa Akusala)“.

  • You can see that such thoughts arise due to dogmatic beliefs, i.e., when one is not willing to even consider the possibility that one could be wrong and to critically examine the evidence. For example, some people refuse to even examine the existing evidence for rebirth with an open mind and that is ditthi.
  • And one needs to know the “big picture of the 31 realms”, concepts of kamma, anicca, dukkha, anatta, etc, to make a decision on rebirth; it is not enough to just to look at the accounts or evidence for rebirth as presented in, “Evidence for Rebirth“.

4. There are three layers in which micca ditthi is established and accumulates bad kamma:

  • When one kills one’s parents with the ditthi that a parent is not a special being, and that such kamma do not have consequences; this is the coarse level. It can be compared to a fire that burns down a house.
  • The second level comes to display when one vehemently defends such a wrong view in a debate, and do not even consider the facts presented by the other side. It is possible that one may genuinely believe in that position, BUT that is because one has not been exposed to the whole picture on existence. The problem is that “not knowing the facts” does not help at the end. One could jump off of a building not knowing how gravity operates, but will be subjected to the same outcome. This middle level can be compared to a fire that ignites when the match stick is struck on a hard surface.
  • The third level is the anusaya level, where these views lay dormant as asavas (ditthi asava). This finer level is likened to a box of matches that has the potential to start a fire.

5. Someone is said to have micca ditthi when one has wrong views at any of the three levels in #6 above. On the other hand, Samma Ditthi, can be two kinds:

  • One knows that bad kamma (actions) have bad consequences and can lead to bad rebirths. One wants to live a moral life and strive for a “good rebirth”. This is “mundane or conventional Samma Ditthi“. Thus these are still defiled views (have “kilesa” in them) since they lead to extending sansara, and one has not yet eliminated the possibility of a future rebirth in the apayas (four lower realms).
  • But when one comprehends to “true nature of this world”, one realizes that there can be no lasting happiness anywhere in the 31 realms of existence. This Samma ditthi is gleaned when one truly comprehends anicca; see, “Why is Correct Interpretation of Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta” is so Important?“.
  • This is the “transcendental or lokuttara Samma Ditthi” that leads to Nibbana; it is free of defilements or “kilesa” or “keles” (in Sinhala). This view becomes complete at the Arahant Stage. Kilesa are discussed in, “What Are Kilesa (Mental Impurities)? – Connection to Cetasika“.

6. Thus conventional Samma Ditthi means the view to “do good things”; one understand kamma and knows the consequences of bad deeds; see, “Buddha Dhamma – In a Chart“.

  • As we discussed in  “Foundation of Dhamma“, “doing good things” is better but most of those things are done with the wrong intention of achieving something in return (good rebirth, winning a lottery, pass an examination, etc. ). This kind of Samma Ditthi will perpetuate the sansaric journey, but is a required first stage to comprehend anicca.
  • The danger in stopping at the conventional samma ditthi is of course that we do not know what one will do in a future life (say another human birth): one could be born under circumstances where one is not exposed to Buddha Dhamma, may associate with bad people, and may commit kamma that will lead to rebirth in the apayas (lowest four realms). The other danger is that we do not know what kind of kamma we have done in previous lives, and we may already have some bad kamma seeds that could lead to a birth in the apayas.

7. Thus, by lokuttara Samma Ditthi is meant the true understanding of the nature of “this world” of 31 realms and the round of rebirths: for example, that “there is a self” and “there is no-self” are both incorrect and things (both animate and inanimate) exist if the conditions for their existence are present (paticca samuppada). Even though one partially comprehends Samma Ditthi at the Sotapanna stage, the understanding becomes complete only at the Arahant stage.

8. If one cultivates the “lokuttara” Samma Ditthi and becomes a Sotapanna, then one will be free from rebirths in the apayas. In a Sotapanna, the four “ditthi sahagatha lobha citta” (the four greed-based immoral thoughts that arise due to wrong views) do not arise; see, “Akusala Citta – How a Sotapanna Avoids Apayagami Citta“.

Next, “How do we Decide which View is Ditthi (Wrong View)?“, ………

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