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.
(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.