What is right view?

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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 12:55 am

Hi everyone,

The theme of this thread is the simple idea that the term "right view" is used for more than one thing. I would like to identify these things. Also, I would like to identify the path factor "right view" for the noble eightfold path.
I agree with Collins that the term "right view" is used for several different things.

1. Acceptance of a belief in kamma/rebirth. We know this from MN 117 and other suttas. This seems to be right view for puthujjanas, and yet, it may still apply to those on the noble eightfold path.

2. Mere acquaintance with certain key doctrines. This means that a conceptual understanding of say, the four noble truths, is right view.

3. Liberating insight. Insight into the four noble truths, or insight into dependent origination. What does insight see, and how does it liberate ?

It seems that bhikkhu Bodhi has a similar view, he calls number 2 "conceptual understanding", and number 3 "experiential understanding".

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:06 am

Greetings Vincent,

Have you considered that Right View may be a momentary thing... just like Right Mindfulness, Right Effort, Right Concentration, Right Speech and so on? And that like those things it might not be a simple, straight, binary, Yes or No?

(Hence the context of the sutta I provided)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is right view?

Postby pt1 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:41 am

Hi, maybe it would be useful to mention the abhidhamma perspective here.

In ACMA (chpater VII, paragrpah 30, page 282), the eight factors of the Noble 8fold path are defined as eight different mental factors (cetasikas). In particular, "right view (sammaditthi) is the cetasika of wisdom exercised in understanding the Four Noble Truths."

So, as for the question "what is right view", I think we can say that right view is in fact the mental factor (cetasika) of wisdom (panna). It is also translated as understanding. That whole chapter VII in ACM is interesting as it defines various groupings (7 factors of enlightenment, 5 faculties, etc) in terms of their component mental factors. (It also briefly defines the four noble truths in paragraph 38, though a footnote refers you to Visuddhimagga chapter XVI for a much more detailed explanation.) So, the mental factor of wisdom also occurs in other groupings like 7 factors of enlightenment, 4 means of accomplishment, etc (check table 7.3 on ACM page 284 for a quick overview).

Based on this, I think we can say that mental factor of wisdom gradually develops moment to moment, just like other mental factors of mindfulness (sati), concentration(ekaggata), etc. The way I sometimes heard it explained is that first one has to hear the Dhamma to get the right conceptual understanding (3 marks, conditionality, kamma, etc, as was mentioned). Then one wisely considers what s/he heard and at some point is able to directly see (understand) in reality what he has heard and considered. Then the development of this seeing directly (i.e. insight) finally leads to seeing directly the 4 noble truths. As the third noble truth is nibbana, I think this would mean that penetration of the third noble truth would be at least at the level of sotapanna, because nibbana isn't experienced before that.

In fact, ACMA paragraph 38 finishes with this sentence: "It should be noted that while in the section on the requisites of enlightenment, the eight path factors may be either mundane or supramundane, in the teaching of the Four Noble Truths, they are exclusively supramundane". My understanding is that this is precisely because direct seeing of the third noble truth would require the actual experience of nibbana.

But, right view is the start of the whole noble path, so a start has to be made with the mundane level right view first - hearing the dhamma, considering it, etc. In particular, from MN 43:
"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"

"Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view: the voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."

"And assisted by how many factors does right view have awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward?"

"Assisted by five factors, right view has awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward. There is the case where right view is assisted by virtue, assisted by learning, assisted by discussion, assisted by tranquility, assisted by insight. Assisted by these five factors, right view has awareness-release as its fruit & reward, and discernment-release as its fruit & reward."


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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:55 am

Hi retrofuturist,

Momentary right view, and the other path factors ? This idea makes no sense for me. Nor do I find it in the five nikayas. There is sudden enlightenment of course, the immediate destruction of the asavas as described in the Parileyya sutta. I consider the eight noble persons and the four stages to be a false teaching intended for puthujjanas. The doctrine of momentary paths and fruits is ( I believe ) part of the abhidhamma teachings, and is not found in the nikayas.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:09 am

Greetings Vincent,

vinasp wrote:Momentary right view, and the other path factors ? This idea makes no sense for me.

What has Right View, other than a momentary citta? How could it be anything other than momentary? Who or what would possess this "Right View"?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:26 am

Hi retrofuturist,

Sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about ! Do things not persist in the mind ? Is suffering only momentary ? Why would the Buddha say that wrong views should be eliminated ? If they are only momentary they will be gone in the next moment.
This is not what the Buddha taught. Or do I just mis-understand you.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:37 am

Greetings Vincent,

vinasp wrote:Sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about ! Do things not persist in the mind ?


See pt1's posting above.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:55 am

Hi retrofuturist,

I have chosen to study only the five nikayas. So I do not have any interest in the abhidhamma or the commentaries. Anyway I am too old now to start a major new undertaking such as those. It seems that no one here actually understands what right view is. But that is to be expected I suppose, since to attain right view would make one a noble disciple or stream-winner.
I still do not see what you mean.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 13, 2009 3:58 am

Greetings Vincent,

I don't study them either, but the point they make is spot on.

"Right view (sammaditthi) is the cetasika of wisdom exercised in understanding the Four Noble Truths."

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: What is right view?

Postby pt1 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 2:22 pm

vinasp wrote:Do things not persist in the mind ? Is suffering only momentary ? Why would the Buddha say that wrong views should be eliminated ? If they are only momentary they will be gone in the next moment.
This is not what the Buddha taught. Or do I just mis-understand you.


Hi Vincent,

These are excellent questions, and I believe considering questions like these leads to developing right view. We can look at them if you like from sutta POV only. (By the way - it's okay that you're not interested in abhidhamma and commentaries at the moment, I think everyone was at that point at some time or other. And for the record, out of the 3 pitakas, abhidhamma is considered foremost in aiding the establishment of right view. And don't be discouraged about it, just reading one medium-size book - ACMA, will give you a great picture about what abhidhamma is all about, and then if you feel like it, you can go on to Visuddhimagga, which is quite big, so just two books for starters are more than enough).

Looking at your questions from the sutta POV (at least as far as I understand it):
-"Do things not persist in the mind "?
Perhaps consider first what do you mean by "mind". In suttas we have a general designation of nama-rupa (mentality-materiality) - so nama here could stand for the "mind". This can then be further subdivided into 5 aggregates - one rupa and 4 namas - consciousness, feeling, perception and formations. So these 4 namas would now stand together for "mind". Formations can be further subdivided into volition, attention, concentration, etc. So all these different mental factors can come together in a certain combination to make what we call "mind" in a particular situation.

-Do things persist (in the mind)? Now perhaps consider your experiences - how long does one of those mental factors above last/persist? Like a pleasant feeling for example? When it arises for you, does it last all day? Or a whole hour? A second? etc. In my experiences so far, I couldn't really find anything that lasts longer than a split-second. A milisecond maybe, I don't know, my insight is not very sharp (some say that the sharper your insight, the faster you can see how the "mind" changes and they give some really big numbers like a billion times per second). Sometimes it seems that things do last for a few seconds/minutes, but that's usually because there's clinging to some idea or a concept, so change is not noticed. There is a sutta (sorry can't remember the name) where the Buddha says that mind is the fastest thing in the whole universe, and in fact, that he can't think of a suitable simile that can quite describe just how fast the mind changes.

Anyway, regardless of how fast you can see the things in the mind change, it's evident that they do change - hence, it cannot be said that they persist, and hence, they are impermanent (first mark). Because they are impermanent, they are unsatisfactory (suffering -second mark), and because you cannot make them persist (like you can't make a pleasant feeling last for a whole day), they are not-self (third mark). Usually with this understanding, one does away with eternalist views - one extreme of the wrong view fetter. Since it's clear that none of the mental factors persists, there's no point anymore in having views that mind or self or anything else really persists. And it is for this reason that one sets out in search of nibbana, as it is the only thing said not to be impermanent and unsatisfactory.

But, at this point it's very easy to swing into the other extreme of wrong views - annihilation views (that there is nothing that exists,etc). In order to remain on the middle way, it's important to consider conditionality - that the above mentioned mental factors are conditioned in every moment, that is, the mental factors at this moment were conditioned by the mental factors in the previous moment, etc. In other words, wrong view at the present moment would tend to condition more wrong view in some future moment, and similarly for right view and all the other mental factors). In this way there's no more need for a view of a controlling self (eternalist views), nor believing that nothing is real (annihilation views) and afaik, these are the beginnings of right view.

Not sure if this helps? We can continue discussing if you like, trying to keep to the suttas only (though I"m sorry if I don't respond quickly as I'm quite busy with work).

Best wishes
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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:06 pm

Hi everyone,

I think that I have found yet another way that the term "right view" is used. In MN 117 it is used to refer to the understanding of what is, and is not the path.

"One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view : this is one's right view"

Do you see that there are two things being called "right view" here ? One is the path factor of right view, the other is an understanding of the difference between that path factor and its opposite - wrong view. The sutta goes on to say the same thing about more path factors :

"One understands wrong intention as wrong intention and right intention as right intention : this is one's right view".

The same is said about speech, action and livelihood. Although this sutta does not go further, we know that there is wrong effort, wrong mindfulness and wrong concentration. These would have to be distinguished from their counterparts in the same way. So, there is a right view which sees what is, and is not, the path.

We are told what the path factor of right view actually is :

"There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed ..."

But this can not be the true path factor of right view, because it can not be developed, and could not lead to enlightenment. So something else is being substituted here in place of the real right view.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:35 pm

Hi retrofuturist,

Sorry - my fault ! I thought that right view could be discussed without problems arising due to my "new interpretation". But I was wrong. Most peoples understanding of the path is different to mine, and this includes right view. I had forgotten that the momentary paths/fruits are explained by a "supramundane" right view. I will read a bit on this topic to refresh my memory.

I have no problem with right view being understanding or wisdom, it is the four truths that are the problem. For me, they are a shallow useless teaching which would not result in enlightenment for anyone. Understanding dependent origination, or no-self in relation to the five aggregates of clinging, would lead to enlightenment. The four noble truths do not tell you how to bring about the cessation of craving.

I think that my understanding of the path is actually simpler, right view is the no-self view.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby vinasp » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:49 pm

Hi pt1,

I feel that I should thank you for thoughtful posts. I do not want you to think that I am ignoring you. I need more time to reflect on them before replying. I find the abhidhamma perspective difficult to combine with my suttanta orientation.

Is there really any problem understanding right view ? If so, what do you think the problem is ? What role does no-self have in right view according to the abhidhamma ? Thanks.

Best wishes, Vincent.
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Re: What is right view?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 8:06 pm

Hi Vincent,
vinasp wrote: Is there really any problem understanding right view ? If so, what do you think the problem is ?

I don't think there is any serious problem (of course there is always room for clarification...). You're the one who disagrees with the standard interpretations, so there's little point in repeatedly asking others to explain whath the problem is...

Metta
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Re: What is right view?

Postby acinteyyo » Fri Nov 13, 2009 9:58 pm

Hi Vincent,
since I'm not a native speaker of english I maybe expressing myself not clearly. So if there is something which isn't clear, just ask and I'll try to explain it in other words if possible. The most of my post here is about what you said in the following quote.
vinasp wrote:[the 4 noble truth] For me, they are a shallow useless teaching which would not result in enlightenment for anyone.

there is the Maha-satipatthana sutta (DN22), where it is written:
"And what is right view? 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: This is called right view.

So here knowledge with regard to the 4 noble truths is called right view.
When one understands the 4 noble truths, then one can distinguish what is well spoken from what is ill spoken.
This is also called "right view" as you already mentioned (MN117).
vinasp wrote:"One understands wrong view as wrong view and right view as right view : this is one's right view"

Right view is not a static thing. It is impossible to say, "right view is this particular thing", so that one can understand "right view" by such an explanation. Furthermore right view is not independent. It depends on two conditions.
MN43 Mahavedalla Sutta wrote:Right view:
"Friend, how many conditions are there for the arising of right view?"
"Friend, there are two conditions for the arising of right view : the voice of another and appropriate attention. These are the two conditions for the arising of right view."

So when there is the voice of another (or something written of another) and appropriate attention, then there arises right view. This means the certain kind of view arises, which is the ideal view for the certain situation. The certain view, which is totally in accordance to dhamma or truth or nature or how one likes to call it. The certain kind of view which doesn't lead to suffering.
Therefore first of all one has to understand what suffering or stress (dukkha) is, which is the first noble truth. And one has to understand what the origin of dukkha is, which is the second noble truth. To avoid further arising of dukkha. Well, one also has to understand what the cessation of dukkha is, which is the third noble truth. To reduce dukkha which already exists. But usually one doesn't know anything about dukkha, its origin, its cessation and the path leading to the cessation of dukkha. This is the reason why one has to understand the 4th noble truth - the path leading to the cessation of dukkha - to "gain right view" to know "how to act appropriate", which is the kind of "acting" where no suffering follows.
vinasp wrote:Understanding dependent origination, or no-self in relation to the five aggregates of clinging, would lead to enlightenment. The four noble truths do not tell you how to bring about the cessation of craving.

Why should one bring craving to an end?
Because craving is the origin of dukkha (2rd noble truth) and when craving ceases dukkha ceases (3rd noble truth).
But why should one do anything to end suffering, when one actually doesn't know that one is suffering or doesn't know from what one is suffering?
How should a puthujjana know that "he is" suffering? The puthujjana doesn't know anything about dukkha.
So the Buddha told us what dukkha is. (1st noble truth).
When one understands it, one will do everything what is necessary to develop the noble eigthfold path, which leads to the cessation of dukkha.(4th noble truth).
For some beings this is enough to live and fullfill the holy life. For others more detailed explanation is necessary, e.g. dependent origination.
So we have plenty of more or less detailed explanations to start developing what is necessary to live the holy life.
Let's have a look on dependent origination. the first link is avijja (ignorance). What is ignorance? There is written something in MN 9:
"And what is ignorance, what is the origin of ignorance, what is the cessation of ignorance, what is the way leading to the cessation of ignorance? Not knowing about dukkha, not knowing about the origin of dukkha, not knowing about the cessation of dukkha, not knowing about the way leading to the cessation of dukkha — this is called ignorance.

This means ignorance is not knowing the four noble truths. How will one understand dependent origination without knowing the four noble truths?
vinasp wrote:I think that my understanding of the path is actually simpler, right view is the no-self view.

"the no-self view" is only then right view, when it arises in the appropriate situation. When it is hold as an absolute view it is just ditthi, but not samma-ditthi.
I hope this may help someone.
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: What is right view?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:12 pm

Dear acineyyo,
acinteyyo wrote:
vinasp wrote:I think that my understanding of the path is actually simpler, right view is the no-self view.

"the no-self view" is only then right view, when it arises in the appropriate situation. When it is hold as an absolute view it is just ditthi, but not samma-ditthi.
I hope this may help someone.

Thank you for your very clear expression of this. "Not self" is something to be experienced, not just understood intellectually. Nihilists like Richard Dawkins understand not-self intellectually (it's in The God Delusion somewhere, but curiously he doesn't know enough about Buddhism to see the connection...). In fact, I would say that many "non-religious" people understand it intellectually.

Vincent: I think most of us would agree that not-self is the key to the Buddha's Dhamma. He says as much in MN 11 http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .ntbb.html Cula-sihanada Sutta.
"Though certain recluses and brahmans claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging... they describe the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self. They do not understand one instance... therefore they describe only the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self.

But, in my opinion, the full understanding is not just an intellectual understanding.

It occurs to me that if you want to discuss the "think yourself to enlightenment" approach you might check out the Yahoo Dhamma Study Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dhammastudygroup/
There are some very knowledgeable people there whose emphasis seems to be on "understanding" rather than "formal practise".

Metta
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Re: What is right view?

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Nov 13, 2009 10:46 pm

Hello Acinteyyo,

Thank you For this and the rest of your post. Its spot on with my understanding.
acinteyyo wrote:So when there is the voice of another (or something written of another) and appropriate attention, then there arises right view. This means the certain kind of view arises, which is the ideal view for the certain situation. The certain view, which is totally in accordance to dhamma or truth or nature or how one likes to call it. The certain kind of view which doesn't lead to suffering.


This is why I dont really think its all that helpful to discuss right view in an out of context or generic way. Right veiw may arise within our mind steam but if we act out of the idea that it does not change in relation to its supporting conditions then it has already vanished. :rolleye:

Kind regards and thanks

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
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Re: What is right view?

Postby pt1 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:50 am

vinasp wrote:Is there really any problem understanding right view ? If so, what do you think the problem is ? What role does no-self have in right view according to the abhidhamma ? Thanks.


Hi Vincent,

Good questions again. Here’s as I see it:

-the problem in understanding right view at the moment is usually the presence of wrong view at the moment (wrong view is again just another mental factor).

-that means that the “mind” at the moment is trying to hold onto a certain thought/idea/view about how things are (it can even be a thought "what is right view?").

-that trying to hold onto something means that there is craving (yet another mental factor) presently in the ”mind”.

-if craving is present at the time, that means there’s no direct understanding of anatta characteristic (not-self) of the present mind-state – in other words, impermanent phenomena (various mental factors present at the moment in the mind, which are together trying to hold onto that thought) are wrongly viewed/understood as lasting and satisfactory and there’s trying to hold onto them through craving (either through greed or aversion).

-if however not-self characteristic of the presently arisen mind-state/mental factors/phenomena is understood (and I’d add – understood directly, i.e. not just intellectually, even though that is also a good start), then no craving arises, and hence no wrong view either, and that understanding of presently arisen phenomena/mind-state/mental factors as impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self is in fact right view.

That’s how it looks to me, and I think that for most of us, it’s hard to distinguish between “understanding right view/anatta/etc” as a concept – which can become just another thought that the mind is trying to hold onto through craving (in thinking, in arguments, etc) and understanding right view about the present moment conceptually as an aid that guides to understanding directly the present mind-state/factors as anatta, anicca and dukkha – i.e the real thing.

Regarding the four noble truths, I agree that this is a very hard part of the teaching, in fact imo, it’s the essence into which the whole of the Buddha’s message can be packed into, so usually we need a lot of help to gradually unpack the meaning, because the true depth of the 4 noble truths is realized only at awakening or thereabout imo. Many of the teachings in the suttas are very, very deep, and some things that I initially dismissed as shallow and non-important often turn out to be immensely relevant.

Best wishes
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Re: What is right view?

Postby mudra » Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:12 am

Not sure if this is off topic, but from the Theravada POV, what is wrong view? Is it the same as ignorance? Or does the latter lead to the former?
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Re: What is right view?

Postby pt1 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:38 am

mudra wrote:Not sure if this is off topic, but from the Theravada POV, what is wrong view? Is it the same as ignorance? Or does the latter lead to the former?


Hi, in abhidhammic classification:

Wrong view (ditthi) is one of the unwholesome mental factors (akusala cetasikas).

Ignorance (moha) is also an unwholesome mental factor, but it is also considered one of the 3 unwholesome root mental factors (the other two being greed and aversion). So, when an unwholesome consciousness (akusala citta) arises, it has to have ignorance as the root mental factor (maybe also greed or aversion) and is accompanied by a number of unwholesome mental factors, like wrong view (ditthi) for example.

Right view on the other hand is synonymous with wholesome mental factor of wisdom/understanding (panna), which is also one of the 3 wholesome root mental factors - non-ignorance (amoha), the other two wholesome roots being non-greed (alobha-generosity) and non-hate (adosa-kindness). When a wholesome consciousness (kusala citta) arises, it can have 2 or 3 wholesome roots mental factors (non-greed and non-hate, but no wisdom, or all 3 roots at the same time) and is accompanied by a number of other wholesome mental factors like abstinence from wrong speech, wrong action (virati cetasikas) etc.

Best wishes
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