American Academy of Religion: Conference Paper

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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

Abstract:

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.

 

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