RIGHT VIEW (Samma Ditti)
Right view is placed first because right view is the eye that guides and directs all the other factors. In the practice of the path, we need the vision and understanding supplied by right views, in order to see the way to travel along the path. Then we need the other factors, conduct or practice, in order to bring us to our destination.

Right view is placed at the begining of the path to show that before we can set foot on the actual practice, we need the understanding provided by right view, as our guide, our inner director, to show us where we are starting from, where we are heading, and what are the successive stages to be passed through in practice.

Usually the Buddha defines right view as the understanding of the Four Noble Truths: suffering, the origin, its cessation and the way to its cessation. To follow the path right from the start we need a correct perspective on the human condition. We have to see that our lives are not fully satisfactory, that life is impermanent, that it is subject to suffering, and we have to understand that suffering is something that we have to penetrate by means of knowledge, something that we have to conquer, and not something we should escape from by pain removers, entertainment, distractions or dull forgetfulness.

At the deepest level we have to see that all things that make up our being, the five aggregates, are impermanent, constantly changing, and therefore cannot be held to as a basis for security or unchanging happiness. Then we have to see that the cause of Dukkha lies in our own mind. Nobody is imposing it on us. We cannot put the blame outside ourselves. It is through our own craving and clinging that we produce suffering and pain for ourselves. Then when we see that the cause of the Dukkha lies in our own mind, we understand that the key to liberation too lies in our own mind. That key is the overcoming of ignorance and craving by means of wisdom. Then, to enter the path, we need the confidence that by following the Noble Eightfold Path we can reach the goal, the cessation of suffering.

The Buddha defines right view as the understanding of the Four Noble Truths for a very improtant reason, namely, that he does not want his disciples to practice his teaching merely out of feelings of devotion. Rather, he wants them to follow the path on the basis of their own understanding. Their own insight into the nature of human life.

As we'll see later, the path begins with an elementary level of right understanding. As the mind develops in the course of practice, the understanding will gradually deepen, expand and widen, and as it does so we come back again and again to right view.

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