Is Ignorance "Not seeing" or "Incorrectly seeing"?

There were two Acariyavadas in sub-commentaries or sub-sub commentaries where they have two opinions about the Characteristic of Moha Cetasika. One of them says characteristic of moha is “Not seeing” while other one says it is “Incorrectly seeing”, as I remember.

It is not about the interpretation of the term Moha/Avijja but about the characteristic of Moha Cetasika.

What do you think about the above to opinions of the Acariyas?

One can think along the following ways to grab the correct behavior of moha-cetasika which is generally considered “covering the truth”.

  • “Not seeing” is Moha and “Incorrectly seeing” is Ditthi
  • or “Not seeing” is Moha and “Incorrectly seeing” is sometimes Ditthi but sometimes Moha
  • or “Not seeing” includes “Incorrectly seeing”
  • or “Incorrectly seeing” includes “Not seeing”
  • or Both are the same

I recently read a post from a Mahayana point of view (which is not valid in interpretation), which I think says something about the above aspects through daily life examples.

In Mahayana Buddhism “ignorance” has a special meaning. It’s not just not knowing stuff, it’s making assumptions based on superficial observations.

To use a basic example, if you look at a building and the side you see is white, you assume the entire building is white - even though the other side (the one you can’t see) could be of any other color.

It seems like a sensible assumption to make, and a harmless one too - until you get into an argument with a person living on the other side who swears the building is painted blue.

Other random examples that come to mind:

  • assuming that if something is pleasant it must be good for you; confusing pleasant and wholesome.
  • assuming if something/someone is popular it must be valuable.
  • all kinds of stereotyping of personal qualities, including but not limited to stereotyping by age, race, gender etc.
  • assuming that the world around us have been this way before and will always stay the same; an illusion of stable world.
  • assuming that receiving the (yet another!) desirable object will make one happy.

As you can see they all follow a similar formula: we make a generalization about things we don’t fully know. Once we have made this mistake we have set ourselves up for trouble. Indeed, if we operate based on flawed assumptions it’s only a matter of time before we clash with things as they really are. Unfortunately, most of us keep on grasping to our assumptions even after they are proven to be false. We keep on craving for things to be as we imagine them and suffer when they don’t agree. Thus it is said that craving is the immediate cause of suffering, grasping (or attachment) is its condition and ignorance is its ultimate root.

You can see this mechanism at play in most conflicts: from global political and religious confrontations to a kitchen argument between you and your teenage child. It is in the nature of the developing human mind to make observations and build assumptions, even if both are simplistic and flawed.

In contrast to the childish thinking pattern of ignorance/grasping/craving, Buddha is free from suffering - through not craving for things to be otherwise. Buddha is free from craving - through not grasping at superficial observations and simplistic assumptions. Buddha is free from grasping - because Buddha avoids jumping to premature conclusions, Buddha prefers working with facts. This is called yathā-bhūta-ñāna-dassana, the knowledge and vision according to reality.

Andriy Volkov

(About Interpretation: We should not forget the definition of the term Avijja as mentioned in Classical Theravada. The “words” of Four noble truths and their factors have been interpreted in different ways, by different sects, which leads to the confusion of the words in “Four noble truths”. The term Avijja can not be interpreted in whatever the way one feels.)

Anyway, my attention here, is not about the interpretation of Moha but about the characteristic of Moha-cetasika.

I don’t think the article is valid. People also make one sided opinions about Dhamma but no one call it moha. Also the line “as defined by Classical Theravada” is completely unnecessary.

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i must agree… this is strange coming from @ekocare

It is definitely not valid. That is what I wanted to say as well. I have little bit edited the OP now, thinking that some will misunderstand what I meant.

The term Avijja can not be interpreted in whatever the way one feels.

Why is that?

The Non-Classical interpretations of Four-noble-truths are considered the main reason for Sasana to be disappeared.

Incorrect interpretations of Dhamma has been considered very dangerous than even the Incorrect Vinaya interpretations.

Four-noble-truths are the Heart of the Dhamma. If they were interpreted incorrectly, everything will be over.

Bhante, my intention was something else, may be my wording has caused a misunderstanding that I have now edited. I thought others will get the point.

The reason to post this was, there were two Acariyavadas in sub-commentaries or sub-sub commentaries where they have two opinions of the Characteristic of Moha-cetasika. (Not the interpretation/meaning of Moha. Interpretation is same.)

One of them says characteristic of moha-cetasika is “not seeing” while other one says it is “incorrectly seeing”, as I remember. That is why this article caught my attention.

Stating one’s own view as superior is conceit. The real four noble truths is defined by the Buddha not by what is so called classical theravada, thus there is only “four noble truths” not “four noble truths as defined by …”.

Compare this:
I can paint a green sun and call it the sun as defined by me. People won’t argue since it is defined by me, maybe it’s just my artistic style.
But if I paint a green sun and call it the sun, people will say, “no it is not”.
By adding “as defined by …” that makes the definition subjective not objective.

I can define the third noble truth as an eternal consciousness, as defined by me. Maybe it will even gain popularity because people seems to fond on having an eternal consciousness.

May be you don’t believe Classical Theravada as true. That is why yo see it in that way.

And it seems you are already closed minded towards Classical Theravada and not open minded and respectful towards it.

And if you believe another interpretation of four noble truths then it is self defined one, according to your very explanation.

This is wrong. If it is true then one might say the Blessed One is also conceited since he said he is superior than anyone else.

Stating one’s own view is superior can be due to many positions. From akusala side Mana and ditthi. From kusala side Saddha and Samma ditthi.

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Hi ekocare, in my opinion, I say Avijja can be also understood as “not seeing things as they really are”.

For example, seeing Samsara as a playground as not a mass of sufferings (hence, ignorant of first Noble Truth)…

Longing for eternal materialistic happiness in divine world or human world, and doesn’t see it as trap for prolonging suffering (hence, ignorant of Second Noble Truth)…

Taking renunciation or abandoning both sensual attachment or extreme asceticism as an act of foolishness, and doesn’t see it as a way of liberation (hence, ignorant of Third Noble Truth)

Believing in wrong path such as prayers, fortune-telling, deep trance, superstition, thinking that it is path of salvation (hence, ignorant of Fourth Noble Truth).

What do you think?

Avijja is exactly what what the word says. It is the absence of vijja. Vijja is advanced/correct knowledge?

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Agreed too.