The difference between Right and Wrong


Everyone has heard these two words, but not all understand them well. Here we should know that if we do something right, beneficial, and helpful, we bring peace and happiness, security to ourselves, others and the whole universe. So also if we do something wrong, we are in troubles. In this point, I would like to talk about the right path that all people should walk along in life. First path is called Right Understanding (right perspective) – understanding of natural law of all things, understanding of characteristics of existences, understanding of truths.
In addition, right understanding is knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the cessation of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress. [ MN: 9, Sammaditthi Sutta] This is the true pathway of mind or way of understanding that will bring this about, which is a correct understanding of behavioral cause and effect and reality. And if we develop this correct understanding, with the strong determination to be free from this uncontrollably recurring rebirth, then we are free from suffering and its causes.
And in order to be able to best help others we have to go deeper, we have to overcome the obstructions that are preventing our mind from understanding the interrelatedness of everything. So if we understand how everything is connected, we will understand cause and effect completely. It means that we will know how to help others: what will be the effect of our actions. So, based on love, the wish for others to be happy and to have the causes of happiness; and compassion, the wish for others to be free of suffering and its causes; and the exceptional resolve in which I take the responsibility to do it myself, to bring them happiness and get rid of their suffering.
The opposite of ‘Right Understanding’, we see word ‘Wrong Understanding’. ‘There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is no fruit or result of good or bad actions. There is no this world, no next world, no mother, no father, no spontaneously reborn beings; no priests or contemplatives who, faring rightly and practicing rightly, proclaim this world and the next after having directly known and realized it for themselves.” This is wrong view [ MN: 117, Mahacattarisaka Sutta].
Indeed, whatever we do for our daily living, it must be following with right understanding, and otherwise, it will cause a lot of troubles to arise in family life as well as societies. The purpose of right understanding is to clear one’s path of the majority of confusion, misunderstanding, and deluded thinking. It is a means to gain right understanding of reality. Right view should be held with a flexible, open mind, without clinging to that view as a dogmatic position. In this way, right view becomes a route to liberation rather than an obstacle.
            On the other hand, right understanding is the foundation for developing a proper sense of values, so sorely lacking in our age. Without right understanding our vision is dimmed and the way is lost; all our efforts will be misguided and misdirected, all our plans for individual and social development must flounder and fail. Such plans will have to be based on the Eightfold Path with its emphasis on self-effort, self-control, and respect for the individual. When wrong views prevail we will operate with a perverted sense of values: we will fling ourselves into the blind pursuit of wealth, power, and possessions; we will be obsessed by the urge to conquer and dominate; we will pine for ruthless revenge; we will dumbly conform to social conventions and norms. Right views will point us towards an enlightened sense of values: towards detachment and kindness; towards generosity of spirit and selfless service to others; towards the pursuit of wisdom and understanding. The confusion and moral lunacy now prevalent in the world can be eased, if not eliminated, if the path of the Buddha is followed. Right livelihood and right action, for instance, can help us avoid the conflicts that result from a wrong way of life and wrong action, thereby enabling a society to live in peace and harmony.

And other important paths we should have in life are: Right Thought – being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness; Right Speech – abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter; Right Action – abstaining from taking life, from stealing, and from sexual misconduct; Right Livelihood – abstaining from making one’s living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as trading in arms and lethal weapons, intoxicating drinks, poisons, killing animals, cheating, etc., and should live by a profession which is honourable, blameless and innocent of harm to others; Right Effort – making a persisting effort to abandon all the wrong and harmful thoughts, words, and deeds; Right Mindfulness –  contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind as mind, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating mind-objects as mind-objects, ardent, fully aware, and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world; Right Concentration – one-pointedness of mind has the function of unifying the other mental factors in the task of cognition.[DN: 22, Mahasatipatthana Sutta]

By Bhikkhu Pannavaro

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