Lesson
2

Correct View and Liberation

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this is the book by mistake

Correct views have the ability to lead us to liberation, while incorrect views increase the delusions of our mind by fanning the flames of anger and increasing our sense of superiority and pride. That is why we need a proper orientation or correct view when we embark on the path.

Correct view is in fact our spiritual vehicle, the transport we use to journey from the bondage of samsara to the liberation of nirvana. Conversely, incorrect views have the potential to lead us off course and, like a poorly constructed raft, will cast us adrift and deposit us on the shores of misery. There is no separation between the vehicle that transports us to our spiritual destination and the views that we hold in our minds.

It is only incorrect views that we need to overcome. The correct and noble view is to be cultivated with great diligence.

We have to think about views and viewpoints quite carefully. Buddhism states that our normal views inhibit us and chain us to the limited condition of samsara, whereas the correct view can lead us to our ultimate spiritual destination. We should not conclude from this—although modern Western Buddhists often do—that meditation is all about getting rid of views or that all views will hinder us from attaining our spiritual goal. This assumption is based on the legitimate premise that Buddhist teachings emphatically identify the need to develop a non-conceptual wisdom mind in order to attain liberation and enlightenment. However, many people mistakenly think that this implies that we do not need to believe in anything and that all forms of conceptuality must be dispensed with right from the beginning. It is only incorrect views that we need to overcome. The correct and noble view is to be cultivated with great diligence.

Right view - the first of the eighfold noble path

In the Buddha's early discourses on the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path begins with the cultivation of the correct view. For example, even if we have no intention of becoming a Buddhist, a desire to practice meditation indicates that we already think of our lives as incomplete and are seeking ultimate fulfillment in something "spiritual." This kind of thinking actually requires a lot of conceptual categories, schemas, and preexisting beliefs. This is why it is not possible to simply jettison the things we believe in. We may not be conscious of their machinations but they are there, which is why it is difficult to jettison the things that we believe in.

Our meditative experiences may be independent of our particular viewpoints, but we need those viewpoints to guide us toward an appropriate understanding of those experiences. Without a conceptual framework, meditative experiences would be totally incomprehensible. What we experience in meditation has to be properly interpreted, and its significance--or lack thereof--has to be understood. This interpretive act requires appropriate conceptual categories and the correct use of those categories.

That is not to say conceptual categories will render our meditative experiences fully comprehensible or that they will produce the liberated state. It is rather that we would not be able to make any sense of our experiences without them. While we are often told that meditation is ab'~[i~ emptying the mind, that it is the discursive, agitated thoughts of our mind that keeps us trapped in false appearances, meditative experiences in fact are impossible without the use of conceptual formulations.

It is therefore extremely important to try to understand medithtive experiences by consulting the historical literature that describes them. We should endeavor to know which sorts of mind states are conducive to meditative experiences and which are detrimental. We would also gain insight into the type of meditative experiences we should regard as confirmation of spiritual progress and providing of reassurance and, conversely, the sort to regard as signs of having gone astray, or as pure indulgence in egotistical fantasy.
Some meditative experiences may have the appearance of being genuine but in reality are false or misleading. Such experiences can be deceptive, giving us the false conviction that we have attained a particular meditative state when in reality we have simply gone astray or fallen victim to fanciful thinking. To separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, and to endeavor to find out whether anything genuine has occurred, we must make use of conceptual tools that steer us in the right direction. That way, we can purposefully continue with our spiritual practice by critically examining and refining our views.
Correct views are also connected to liberation because of their potential to lead us to a proper understanding of our human condition. Genuine, authentic understanding leads to insight, or transcendental knowledge, prajna, which in turn gives birth to wisdom, or gnosis (jnana).~ According to traditional Mahayana Buddhist literature, we are first instructed to cultivate transcendental knowledge by developing the correct view, and then gnosis issues forth from transcendental knowledge. In order to cultivate transcendental knowledge, we need first to hear and study the teachings, then to contemplate their deeper meaning, and finally to follow up by meditating on their inner mental and spiritual significance. Conceptual understanding and transcendental knowledge are~ inseparable in this context and are always a precondition for the dawning of wisdom.