diṭṭhi visuddhi is translated as "purification of view," etc. In the Pali tradition, diṭṭhi visuddhi is identified as the third of the seven stages of purification on the path to liberation, as presented in the Visuddhimagga.
- Purification of view (diṭṭhi visuddhi), also known as the analytical knowledge of mind and matter, begins the process of cultivating wisdom by discerning the characteristics, functions, manifestations, and immediately preceding causes of the five aggregates. Through this, meditators discern that what is called the person is a collection of interdependent mental and physical factors. This purifies the wrong view of a unitary, permanent self.
Rupert Gethin states:
- At this stage the practitioner is concerned with beginning to break down his sense of a substantial self. To this end he contemplates any given experience in terms of the five aggregates, or the six senses and their respective objects. The purpose here is to impress upon the mind that, when we look at any particular experience, what we find is not a substantial person or being but just mind and body in dependence upon each other. Like two sheaves of grass propped up against each other, if we remove one the other falls. But in undertaking this practice we are warned to be careful. Some may be unresponsive to this teaching, but others may go too far and think that the task is to annihilate themselves.
- In the Visuddhimagga, purity of understanding refers to correct knowledge according to reality (yathābhūta) of the nature of mentality and materiality (namarupa) through reliance on discriminative wisdom, having overcome all mistaken belief in the existence of a perduring soul (atman). The ordinary person (puggala) and, indeed, all of the phenomenal universe or realm of rebirth (samsara) are comprised merely of mentality and materiality. Mind and matter, whether taken singly or together, do not constitute a self; but there is also no self existing apart from mind and matter that possesses them as their controller. Rather, the self is to be correctly regarded as merely a conventional expression (vohāradesanā) that does not designate a real, existing thing. The purity of understanding thus reveals that everything that exists is selfless (anattā). Such an understanding of the selflessness of mind and matter penetrates the veil of conventional truth (sammutisacca) and apprehends ultimate truth (paramatthasacca).
Ari Ubeysekara states:
- When the stage of the purification of the mind is accomplished either with access concentration or fixed concentration developed through concentration meditation or with momentary concentration developed through insight meditation, the meditator is now ready to start proper insight meditation. Purification of view is the first stage of the insight or wisdom meditation proper and involves getting rid of the wrong view of a permanent “Self” or “Soul” known as Sakkaya ditthi.
- In reality, there is no permanent “self” or “soul” in what is called a person, being or an individual but only a Psycho-physical complex (nama-rupa) consisting of the five aggregates of clinging.
- The five aggregates function together as a group to produce all our personal experiences. The first aggregate of form represents the material aspect while the other four aggregates represent a variety of mental actions. They arise due to physical and mental antecedent conditions only to cease instantly and are in a constant state of flux with no stable or permanent entity. As such, they can be described as five dynamic processes rather than five static elements or factors. They constantly arise and cease, so they are impermanent (anicca), and because they are impermanent they are suffering (dukkha) and lack any stable entity or self (anatta). However, through ignorance one considers them as permanent, happy and substantial and identifies with one of the five aggregates forming the self identification view (sakkaya ditthi).
- By applying four types of false belief of a self to each of the five aggregates namely; form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness, there are 20 different types of personality belief (sakkaya ditthi). If one considers form or the body (rupa) as an example, the following 4 types of self view are possible;
- Assumption of the body to be the self
- Assumption of the self as possessing the body
- Assumption of the body as within the self
- Assumption of the self as within the body
- The same 4 types of self view can be applied to the other four aggregates of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness.
- There are three possible ways in which this self identification can take place;
- This is mine – due to craving (tanha)
- This is I am – due to conceit (mana)
- This is myself – due to wrong view (ditthi)
- The meditator who has by now completed the stage of the purification of mind, continues with meditation with a view to understand the true nature and the specific characteristics of the physical and mental phenomena occurring from moment to moment. The meditator will come to realise the different nature of the mental processes (nama) and the physical body (rupa) which are separate from each other but are functioning interdependently. For example, the meditator who is practising mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati) at a point around the nostrils or upper lips will be able to identify in-breath and out-breath as separate processes as there is a gap between the two. The next understanding is that the mind (nama) that knows the in-breath and out-breath is separate from the physical process of breathing in and breathing out (rupa) and that the mind that knows in-breath is also different to the mind that knows the out-breath. Finally, there will be the realization that apart from this mind/matter process (nama/rupa) there is no self, person, being or individual who carries out the process of breathing in and out.
- In the same way, the meditator will continue to mindfully observe the different mental and physical processes taking place from moment to moment in relation to all the six sense doors of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and the mind. For example, when a visual object is received through the eye, the meditator will be able to distinguish between the different factors involved such as the eye, the visual object, seeing and knowing. There will also be the realization that the eye and the visual object are material processes (rupa) that are separate from the mental processes (nama) of seeing and knowing.
- This analytical knowledge of the mind and body in which the meditator is able to distinguish between the mental and physical processes (nama-rupa) through direct experience is known as the knowledge of the difference between mentality and physicality (namarupa-pariccheda-nana). This is the first of the 16 types of insight (vipassana) knowledge attained during insight meditation. When the meditator attains this knowledge of the difference between mentality and materiality (nama-rupa), the personality view (sakkaya ditthi) that there is a separate person, being or a self behind the mental and physical processes is lost. When this insight is contemplated internally, externally and both internally and externally the meditator has accomplished the stage of the purification of view.
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Dalai Lama; Thubten Chodron (2014), Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions, Wisdom Publications
- Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press
- Ubeysekara, Ari (2018), Seven Stages of Purification (satta visuddhi) in Theravada Buddhism, Dharisworld