Right Understanding or Right View is the ability to understand the nature of things exactly as they are, without delusion or distortion. If we hold wrong views, misunderstanding the nature of reality, then our thoughts, speech, actions, and plans come forth from this misunderstanding, bringing unhappiness and suffering. If we cultivate the Right View of reality, our thoughts, speech, actions, and plans come forth from this Right Understanding, bringing happiness and freedom from suffering.
Imposing our self-centered desires, needs, expectations, or fears onto life—being satisfied and happy when things go our way, and upset if they do not—is wrong understanding. With Right Understanding, we correctly perceive the interdependent, impermanent, ever-changing nature of life. We realize lasting happiness and satisfaction do not come from anything external. In addition, we understand the wholesome, life-affirming actions that bring benefit to all beings, as well as the unwholesome, negative actions which bring suffering.
Right Understanding requires our full comprehension of the Four Noble Truths, which explain the nature of reality. Through Right Understanding we cultivate wisdom (prajna), an essential aspect of the Path.
Source: SourcePoint Global Outreach, The Heart of Dharma Collection (Mount Shasta, CA: Naljor Prison Dharma Service, n.d.) http://sourcepointglobaloutreach.org/what-we-offer/
Right Understanding (or Right View)
Right Understanding or Right View may also be described as:
(1) At the ‘ordinary’ level:
Belief in the principles of karma and rebirth, making the person take full responsibility for his actions. It also includes intellectual and preliminary experiential understanding of the four True Realities for the Spiritually Ennobled.
(2) At the Noble or ‘tanscendent’ level, as right seeing:
Transformative direct insight into the True Realities and Conditioned Arising (Majjhima Nikaya, I.46-55) in the form of the faculty of wisdom that sees the flux of conditioned reality and, beyond it, Nirvana.
Source: Excerpted and adapted from Peter Harvey, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices, 2nd ed, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), page 83.