View or position (Pali diṭṭhi, Sanskrit dṛṣṭi) is a central idea in Buddhism. In Buddhist thought, in contrast with the commonsense understanding, a view is not a simple, abstract collection of propositions, but a charged interpretation of experience which intensely shapes and affects thought, sensation, and action. Having the proper mental attitude toward views is therefore considered an integral part of the Buddhist path.
Views are produced by and in turn produce mental conditioning. They are symptoms of conditioning, rather than neutral alternatives individuals can dispassionately choose. The Buddha, according to the discourses, having attained the state of unconditioned mind, is said to have “passed beyond the bondage, tie, greed, obsession, acceptance, attachment, and lust of view.”
The Buddha of the early discourses often refers to the negative effect of attachment to speculative or fixed views, dogmatic opinions, or even correct views if not personally known to be true. In describing the highly diverse intellectual landscape of his day, he is said to have referred to “the wrangling of views, the jungle of views.” He assumed an unsympathetic attitude toward speculative and religious thought in general. In a set of poems in the Sutta Nipata, the Buddha states that he himself has no viewpoint. According to Steven Collins, these poems distill the style of teaching that was concerned less with the content of views and theories than with the psychological state of those who hold them.
Those who wish to experience nirvana must free themselves from everything binding them to the world, including philosophical and religious doctrines. Right view as the first part of the Noble Eightfold Path leads ultimately not to the holding of correct views, but to a detached form of cognition.
Four wrong views
Gyurme (1987: p. 1431) in his treatise on the principal Nyingma Mahayoga tantra, the Guhyagarbha Tantra and its detailed Dzogchen commentary by Longchenpa, conveys the following ‘four false views’ (Tibetan: ཕྱིན་ཅི་ལོག་བཞི, Wylie: phyin ci log bzhi) they are inappropriate subtle ‘activities’ (Wylie: phyin) of the mindstream formed from ‘habitual patterns’ (Sanskrit: vāsanā) that collapse the ‘expanse of possibility’ or ‘openness’ (Sanskrit: sunyata) into structures of fixed views or ‘formations’ (Sanskrit: saṅkhāra) in regards to ‘purity of conduct’ (Wylie: Śīla), ‘suffering’ (Sanskrit: dukkha), ‘selflessness’ (Sanskrit: anatman) and ‘impermanence’ (Sanskrit: anitya):
The ‘”four erroneous views” (phyin ci log bzhi) are to apprehend impurity as purity, to apprehend selflessness as self, to apprehend suffering as happiness, and to apprehend impermanence as permanence.
The definition of a wrong view is an intellectually-formed wrong awareness that denies the existence of an object that it is necessary to understand to attain liberation or enlightenment. Examples of wrong views are denying the existence of past and future lives; denying the existence of the two truths; denying the existence of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha; denying the existence of the four noble truths; and denying the existence of the five paths. Such wrong views block our progress to liberation and enlightenment.
The effects of developing such wrong views are that we will become very dull and ignorance, and that we will be reborn in countries where there is no Buddhadharma or during a dark age when no Buddha has taught the doctrine. As wrong views are so harmful we should strive to overcome them by developing correct views.