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INTRODUCTION

The notion of ‘view’ or ‘opinion’ (dihi) as an obstacle to ‘seeing things as they are’ (yathābhūtadassana) is a central concept in Buddhist thought. In the study of dihi 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’ (sammādihi) and the abandoning of ‘wrong-views’ (micchā-dihi).1 I shall refer to this as the opposition understanding of views, i.e. right-view stands in opposition to, or corrects, wrong-views. It is generally assumed that this is by far the most usual understanding of dihi found within the Nikāyas. However, there is also a tradition of Buddhist thought evident in some Sutta-nipāta verses (the Ahakavagga and, to a lesser extent, the Pārāyanavagga), and certain suttas from the Nikāyas, 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.2 Views, if held with attachment, are wrong-views. Just as objects of the senses are a hindrance, so all views and opinions, both ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ and even ‘knowledge’ (ñāa), are rejected as the means towards the goal of complete non-attachment. The aim of the path is not the cultivation of right-view and the abandoning of wrong-views but the relinquishment of all views, wrong or right. I shall refer to this as the noviews understanding of views.