Continuing with the aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path called Wise View, we have established that it has value but how do we find it?
Wise View is not something we can track down. Instead we make ourselves available to it. We walk the path where Wise View is known to inhabit and trust that we will encounter it. The harder we seek it, the shyer it seems.
So why bother walking the path? If we aren’t on the path we can be sure we will never encounter Wise View. So we walk the Buddha’s Eightfold Path with our intention to be present and compassionate, and with effort that is easeful, natural and balanced. On the path we practice mindfulness, strengthening our ability to be present and compassionate, and we do concentration practices that help us to maintain mindfulness. We tread the path with mindfulness in our words, our actions and our livelihood.
None of this guarantees we will encounter Wise View, yet we stay on the path because it is pleasing in and of itself. We find that even when we encounter difficulty, we are better able to meet it without falling apart, better able to see what is necessary in the moment, and we have a more balanced perspective on things. In fact, in those moments of greatest difficulty Wise View often hovers very near, lending us strength, even if we don’t see it.
We are not hunters seeking Wise View. We carry no firearms to kill it or cages to capture it, so we know that any encounter will be fleeting. Some of us may believe Wise View is folklore, as unlikely to exist as the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, a unicorn or a dragon. This assumption makes Wise View difficult to recognize when it appears.
If we are treading the path, finding joy in the moment and deepening our capacity for compassion for ourselves and all beings, even those who may have seemed undeserving; then we are cultivating the very environment in which Wise View lives. And perhaps it is alive and well within us, but we imagined it would look different, or didn’t believe it existed at all.
To create a conducive and inviting habitat for Wise View, take walks in nature in silence, sit with nature and honor it as your teacher. Go on longer retreats where silence is celebrated and the sangha supports you in your development of of all aspects of the Eightfold Path. Delve back into the First Foundation of Mindfulness to consider the nature of the body, of death, of the ephemeral quality of life, this energetic commingling and unfolding, this pattern of processes and systems, that we interpret as solid for purposes of having sufficient traction to develop volition and evolve consciousness. Look to the insights, the dhammas of the Buddha, especially the Five Aggregates that helps us see that we are not this body, this set of preferences, these thoughts and emotions; that we are not our volition, our will or our consciousness.
When we spend time considering all of this, we are definitely in the territory of Wise View. Don’t get too excited, but a sighting is increasingly likely.