American Academy of Religion: Conference Paper


American Academy of Religion Conference: Atlanta, 21st November 2015

Buddhism Section and Buddhist Philosophy Group

Theme Dṛṣṭi: The Problems of Views and Beliefs in Buddhism

Paul Fuller, University of Cardiff, United Kingdom

Actions speak louder than words: The danger of attachment to views in the Pali Canon and engaged Buddhism


The notion of ‘view’ or ‘opinion’ (diṭṭhi) as an obstacle to ‘seeing things as they are’ (yathābhūtadassana) is a central concept in Buddhist thought. In the study of diṭṭhi there is a dilemma. Early Buddhist texts talk about it as ‘wrong’ (micchā) and ‘right’ (sammā). The aim of the path is the cultivation of ‘right-view’ (sammā-diṭṭhi) and the abandoning of ‘wrong-views’ (micchā-diṭṭhi). However, there is also a tradition of Buddhist thought that equates ‘right-view’ with ‘no-view’ at all. The aim of the Buddhist path is here seen as the overcoming of all views, even right-view. This paper will analyse the description of ‘views’ in the Pali Canon and consider how it impacts on engaged Buddhism. Using a discussion in the Pāṭali-sutta , I will suggest how the Buddhist who acts politically can only do so if his actions exhibit right-view itself.