What is meant by "View"?

I like someone to tell me what is meant by view.
a)Are views latent factor? What are they?
b)Are newly born children have views?
c)Why/how(the cause) we develop new views? What are they?
d)Are Arahants got views?
e)Can we live without views?
f) Are all views bad?
g) What is the life like without views?
h)What is the etymology of Ditthi?


I like someone to tell me what is meant by view.
a)Are views latent factor?

“Monks, there are these seven obsessions. Which seven?
”(1) The obsession of sensual passion.
"(2) The obsession of resistance [aversion].
"(3) The obsession of views.
"(4) The obsession of uncertainty.
"(5) The obsession of conceit.
"(6) The obsession of passion for becoming.
"(7) The obsession of ignorance.
“These are the seven obsessions.”

-Anusaya Sutta: Obsessions (1), AN 7.11,
translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

What are they?
If a person believes in God or a Self, that is a wrong view. If they describe the four noble truths, after having seen it for themselves, that is Right view.
Right views are conceptualization of reality as it really is, after having seen it with direct insight.
Wrong views are concepts arrived at by craving giving rise to wrong contemplation (ayonisomanasikara), based on one or the other of the five aggregates, which it took a liking to (and elaborated on, in fantasy).

Fantasizing in this way about God or Self will lead to vinnana constantly alighting on it- the mind goes to this topic again and again. Then it becomes an ‘obsession’. An-saya also means ‘sit-with’ and it sits with this concept repeatedly.

b)Are newly born children have views?
Have you heard them crying for their milk? :slight_smile: Possibly. Possibly something like ‘milk is sukha’- not a particularly conscious one of course- there is no self, its just automatic.

c)Why/how(the cause) we develop new views? What are they?
First cut off the old views by seeing reality as it really is (yathabhutha nana), through yonisomanasikara, samatha and vipassana. All doubts that are generated by a Wrong view (as it cannot be ever truly verified) will be cut off at the point of ‘the purification of removal of doubt’ (khankavitharana visuddhi). After this process is over, when recollecting what one has seen (paccavekka) through the practice, by conceptualizing and summarizing it, Right view will form.

d)Are Arahants got views?
They remember old wrong views and have new right views. They are not attached to any of those views.

e) Can we live without views?
Yes, arahanths do – that is, their right view is only a commentary on what is happening. It doesn’t drive it or give rise to it. Wrong views on the other hand might lead to bhavanausaya, which would prolong their samsaric journey. They are more involved in the life of the person who holds them.

f) Are all views bad?
Views are sankhara, so no they are not all bad. If there is craving, aversion and ignorance involved, then, yes. If not, no.

g) What is the life like without views?
Imagine that all your life people were always trying to tempt you with false promises or scare you with false threats. Now imagine all that suddenly stopped. That is how I think it would feel like (the drama would stop, allowing peace to ensue). There would much confidence in the triple gem and stability in one’s own world view, as he has seen it for himself. One’s goals in life would become clearer due to understanding the Four Noble Truths. Issues around the Self would fade away, as the Self view would be seen to be a false fabrication.
Samadhi would naturally develop, as some of it which disturbs it would be erased. The sense of permanence and satisfactoriness would fade and one would take delight in living more in the moment without grasping for the future.

h)What is the etymology of Ditthi?
ditti:[f.] light; brightness. According to the Pali dictionary.

From the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta, when the Buddha realised the Four Noble Truths he proclaimed : cakkhuṃ udapādi ñāṇaṃ udapādi paññā udapādi vijjā udapādi āloko udapādi.
‘there arose vision, knowledge, wisdom, true knowledge, and light’.
He uses the term ‘light’ synonymously with ‘wisdom’. Ditti as ‘light’ also probably means the same thing, albeit, Right view.

with metta


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Thanks Mat
I got the following reply from Dhamma Wheel.


Thanks Sarath




I wonder why Ditti is termed as light.
Can we form Dittis from all six senses? Not only from the eyes?

I’m sorry but @mat is mistaken here, what is usually translated as view in the suttas is “diṭṭhi” not “ditti”. Ditti is light, so although there may be some relation, in that one “sees” by means of light, the light and the seeing are not the same thing. Further, what is meant by diṭṭhi in the suttas is basically how we use view in modern English. That is to say, when we talk about a person’s views we’re not talking about what they physically see but “the way they see the world” —their worldview.

There are probably a lot of nuances with the usage in the suttas but I think that is probably the ground-floor meaning.


hi SarathW,

No, I did not mean light in the sense of something seen by the eyes. I meant it in the way the Buddha is called the ‘light of Asia’- it means wisdom and making apparent what was previously obscured. So it has nothing to do with the five sense organs, only the mind.



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I’m not familiar with the ‘light of Asia’ phrase; ‘light of the world’ perhaps?

The light of wisdom though is paññobhāso, here wisdom is pañña as it is elsewhere and light is obhāsa: https://suttacentral.net/an4.144 .

Although there certainly are wise views, I’m not sure there’s any place where diṭṭhi means light or wisdom.

See Light of Asia here:

This is a reference to a Book about the Buddha, better known in Sri Lanka where I am and possibly Sarath is from. I was hoping he may have come across it. But yes, now the Buddha is a light to the world.

‘Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment’.




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  1. Views are theories. They are relatively stable structures of thought and opinion that guide how we think and see the world.
  2. Children don’t really have views. Of course the potential is latent in them, but only when they learn to use language and structure their thought is it appropriate to talk about views.
  3. We develop views out of an interaction between our own desires and sense of self, and our environment, the experiences and facts we encounter. Views allow us to make sense of the world by fitting diverse experiences into one framework that makes sense to us. Thus they are a kind of cognitive shortcut.
  4. Arahants have views, but only the good kind.
  5. Views are essential for the mind to work in a sophisticated way. It is possible to live without views: see fish, cows, and birds. But it’s not possible to have an advanced human sentience and culture without views.
  6. Like all fundamental features of consciousness, views may be either good or bad. Obviously, Right View is at the start of the eightfold path. Confusion arises because the Pali word diṭṭhi is used in two idiomatic senses. Sometimes it is used in a neutral sense, as I have described. But other times it is used in a bad sense. In this way, it is somewhat similar to the English word “theory”. In science, a theory is, according to the National Academy of Sciences “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” In popular usage it is, however, “a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.” These two distinct senses are deliberately confused by bad-faith actors, i.e. fundamentalists and denialists. In Buddhism this happens, too, as those who don’t wish to challenge their own views accuse others of being attached to view.
  7. Without views, life has no direction or purpose. Do not confuse someone who has achieved their purpose (an arahant) with someone who has not found it. And don’t confuse someone who has a reflective and critical perspective on their views with someone who simply denies that they have views and refuses to critically engage with them.
  8. The root is dṛś, “to see”. This becomes dassana in the sense of “vision” and diṭṭhi in the sense of “theory”. The root is more evident in the Sanskrit forms, darśana and dṛṣṭi. The etymology is thus similar to “theory”, although I do not know whether they are related.


“The English word theory was derived from a technical term in philosophy in Ancient Greek. As an everyday word, theoria, θεωρία, meant “a looking at, viewing, beholding”, but in more technical contexts it came to refer to contemplative or speculative understandings of natural things (…)”


Don’t animals and children have self view?

Yea, I guess view sounds more like belief; when the idea is that these hypotheses should be tested, experientially.

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This is the distinction between a “view” as such, and an anusaya, or underlying tendency. Try asking a baby if they have a view as to whether their soul survives the inevitable death of the body, and if so, in what form. Let me know if you get a good answer!

Views require sophisticated cognitive development. Until that is learned, what we have is the tendencies towards such views, something more like an instinct. In the context of rebirth, such tendencies are, of course, an echo of views formed in past lives.

The good thing about instincts is that no-one bases a political party on them and tries to exterminate everyone with a different instinct. The bad thing is that there is no ability to reflect on it and hence to transcend it. Views are an essential part of developmental growth, but we mustn’t get stuck in them or they go toxic.


So the views are essential part of development.
It appears that the views in Anusaya and Sanyojana ( ten fetters) are two different things?
What about views in Noble Eightfold Path?

Rather than think in terms of different things, it’s better to think in terms of stages of development or degrees of evolution. As you grow up, your views may change and evolve. Normally such views become more sophisticated and powerful (to a point). But that doesn’t mean they are either good or bad: it means they have more power to do good or bad. Ideally views are reflected on with wisdom and compassion, that is:

  1. They’re constantly corrected against the facts, and
  2. They’re assessed whether they are a force for happiness or suffering,.

When this happens, they will evolve in a direction that tends towards right view. Counteracting this, of course is self view and greed, which are constantly working to distort the facts in order to serve the delusional ego.


Whole Buddha’s teaching is revolving around these two factors.

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Many people do not know they got views.
They think views are real. (may be this is some thing to do with our system of education in schools and at homes)
This problem prevails in other disciplines such as science,medicine, economics and politics etc.

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I wouldn’t be in too much hurry to blame the poor old educators, who at least try to inculcate some critical thinking skills and evidence-based rationality. There are plenty more toxic sources of views.


There is the mirror test for self awareness -

As of 2016, only great apes (including humans), a single Asiatic elephant, dolphins, orcas, and the Eurasian magpie have passed the MSR test. …

From the age of 6 to 12 months, the [human] child typically sees a “sociable playmate” in the mirror’s reflection. Self-admiring and embarrassment usually begin at 12 months, and at 14 to 20 months most children demonstrate avoidance behaviors. Finally, at 18 months half of children recognize the reflection in the mirror as their own and by 20 to 24 months self-recognition climbs to 65%. Children do so by evincing mark-directed behavior; they touch their own nose and/or try to wipe the mark off.

I think at least some animals are capable of holding views in a general sense. The difference between animals and humans being more one of complexity or abstractness. Our ability to conceive of ideas using language makes a big difference. A cow might feel something like “I think the grass looks tastier over there” where as a human can reason “I am going to kill you because you don’t accept Jesus as your savior”. But truth is, I have no idea if cows have complex reasoning powers or not. According to the suttas, cows can think and birds are pretty smart too.

I once watched a horse use its teeth and lips to untie the knot in a rope that was being used to hold the gate closed on the corral it was in. It certainly wanted to be outside and also had the ability to understand the relationship between the rope, knot, gate, and freedom.