Right View, as taught in Buddhism, is the beginning and the end of the Noble Eightfold Path. It challenges you and me to look at life as boldly as possible – seeking out the truth of in all matters. It is also the realization that suffering is a part of this life. No matter how hard we try, we can’t run from suffering in one form or another.
When we take the Right View approach to life – we look at ourselves, the decisions we have to make and our associations with people and the world, and cut through the bull. We stop telling stories and creating fantasies that keep us from true growth.
A prime example of this can be found in many families, friendships and colleagues. For example, in the case of an abusive parent or unruly teenager, we weave webs of excuses for our loved ones behaviors and end up with unspoken agreements in which we accept their behavior as OK. Our agreements can include, “He or she is like this because of his/her childhood,” “I am one of the causes of his/her demise, so they can do whatever they’d like…and hopefully one day they’ll get better,” or “If I stop putting up with his/her behavior, they’ll leave and I’ll be alone.”
When we see things rightly, we stop weaving webs and complex stories, stare the truth in the eyes and address the core problems/issues.
In the case of the unruly family member, we tell them directly that their actions are wrong and unjust and set boundaries. If they cross those boundaries, we detach ourselves lovingly and let them deal with the consequences. We find within ourselves the strength to let go and detach from our fears of loss and guilt.
In the case of you and me — with respects to our own behavior–we must work even harder, choosing bold action and adherence to our inner truths…even if this means temporary challenges. When we do this, we open the door to our full potential and our true natures.
It is of vital importance to realize that right View is not the same as a Self Righteous View. Buddha makes it clear in his teachings that it is important to be flexible, open minded and without clinging to a dogmatic position. In this way, right view becomes a route to liberation rather than another obstacle.
Finally, to fully grasp Right View we must understand the Four Noble Truths:
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. We can take a gradual path away from suffering.
I was asked a question by a 19-year-old girl/woman today that made me reflect my own internal state. She asked, “when will I stop suffering in this life? Just when I think I have found happiness…I get knocked down again.” I thought for a second about the Noble Eightfold Path and what it has taught me and replied: “our ups and downs are just a part of being human…and I’m just learning to breathe through it all. The more we fight and struggle against life’s ebbs and flows, the harder life becomes.”
We strive each and every day to beat suffering and run away from pain, but Buddha would probably tell us to embrace what comes our way (both good and bad), resonate with it for a moment, and then let it drift into the ether. Dare to be like a mountain in the wind, unwavering and resolute…
Challenge for the Day: Finish this sentence – “I would find freedom if I were to be more truthful with myself and others about__________________.”
Stay tuned for part 2 Noble Eightfold Path tomorrow!
-Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold