How Do I Accord With Truth?

Luang Por Pasanno • May 2012

There’s a tendency to look for some technique or method we can follow and perfect, whether it’s for cultivating mindfulness, concentration, or whatever. This is helpful at times, but no matter what method or technique we’re trying to develop, we always need to consider whether we’re doing it within the framework of right view—whether we’re doing it with a view that accords with Dhamma. If we’re missing right view in the way we’re applying and cultivating our practice, no matter what method or technique we use, we’re going to complicate things and create difficulties for ourselves. So we need to keep turning attention inward and ask ourselves, How do I accord with Dhamma? How do I accord with truth? How do I align myself with a view that’s in accord with reality and in accord with the Buddha’s perspective.

Generally there are three ways we view experience: Being drawn toward the world, being drawn toward the sense of self, or viewing experience in accord with truth. Often we’re entangled with, caught up in, or propping up the feeling of self or the views and opinions that arise from the sense of self. Or it’s the pull toward the world, relying on the world as a source of gratification, energy, or interest. When we’re aware of that happening, we can draw our attention back and ask ourselves, How do I accord with Dhamma, with truth? This is where that sense of right view is so important.

I remember a group of Buddhist teachers saying to Ajahn Chah, “We teach about right view. We’ve been studying about right view. But what the heck is right view, anyway?” Ajahn Chah smiled, held up the cup he was drinking from, and said, “right view is knowing that this is a broken cup. It’s just that much.” So we need to recognize the impermanence, uncertainty, and unsure nature of experience, rather than making assumptions about things from the bias of “my way” or from perceptions of the world as good or bad. We might think, Everything is falling apart. Or we might think, Everything is great and I’m going to get what I want. The world is going to gratify me! Well, not sure. We need to stop and reflect, What is sure? We may see that what is sure is what we can know at this present moment. What is sure is that we can make choices and try to guide ourselves in ways that are skillful.

When we make those choices, it is helpful to recollect that we are the owners of our actions, heirs to our actions, and that those actions have results. As soon as we formulate an idea, often something will come out of the mouth or we do something with the body. Those actions have consequences, good or bad. We need to take responsibility for that, recognizing the causal relationship between particular actions and their results. How do we attune ourselves to this cause-and-effect conditionality?

We can begin by asking ourselves, What’s going to lead to my well-being, happiness, and peace? How do I avoid this confusion, difficulty, and suffering? And we can keep taking responsibility, reflecting over and over again, I’m the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions. Whatever actions I shall do, for good or for ill, of those I will be the heir. But in order to take responsibility like this, we need to step back and clearly see that, It’s not sure. I don’t have to believe my moods. I don’t have to believe the world around me. I don’t have to get caught in conditions. None of it is sure. Once this sinks in, we can allow right view and the Dhamma to guide us, rather than allowing ourselves to be pulled by the conditions of the world or the conditions of identity and self view.