Four Deluded Views of Human Beings

I recently learned about the four deluded views of human beings that Buddhism teaches. They are mistaken ways of how we view life. The four deluded views are as follows:

1. Permanence. We think that because we are alive now, we will live forever, that it will always be this way. "Others will die but I will not," we believe. We also believe that what possessions we have will not change, such as my house, my family or neighbors and so on. They will be there forever, we think; the amount of money I put into the bank will be the same forever, we believe. We think the status quo will remain the same. Because we think that we will be with the people we are with now forever, we end up hating them. But if we hear they are dying, we feel sad and miss them.

The truth is that nothing lasts, and everything is impermanent. The ringing of the bell of the Gion Temple makes us aware of this: "The bell of the Gion Temple tolls into every manʼs heart to warn him that all is vanity and evanescence." We make plans for the future thinking without a doubt it will come, but can we be sure such a date will come?

Did the people in eastern Japan on March 11, 2011 expect to have their lives changed that day? We live in a world that is like a burning house. To live in such a house is to live with no peace of mind. You cannot sit down and eat in peace. You must first try to put out the fire. We have a completely wrong belief.

2. Pleasure. We think life is fun, and that our happiness will last forever. We believe that even if we are not happy now we will be in the future. This belief allows us to keep living. But even if we think life is fun and enjoyable, enjoyable feelings do not last. Regardless, Buddhism teaches that life is suffering. His first words after attaining enlightenment, Sakyamuni Buddha said, "life is suffering." This is why we need to seek for the true purpose of life and attain true happiness that can never fade in the face any hardship.

3. Fixed self. We think that we are an unchanging, fixed self. "This is my body, my car, my wife, my house." We think in such ways. We think such things are ours. The fact that we think this way means that we think the self is fixed and unchanging. Because we have this deluded view, we get into fights with someone who tries to take what we have. A lot of fights come from this belief. However, there is no such thing as a fixed self. Every seven years our body completely changes. We are a changing self.

4. Purity. We think there is purity in life. We see someone who is beautiful, but under the skin we are all the same, ugly and frightening. When a body dies it quickly begins to rot and soon gives off a bad smell. There is no purity, but we are deluded in thinking there is.

These four deluded views come from our worldly passions. Therefore these deluded thoughts are with us for as long as we are alive. Even after we are saved by Amida Buddha we still have these deluded views since worldly passions remain the same before as after salvation. However, on being saved, our deluded views do not become an obstacle to our birth in the Pure Land.

Frank Costelloe, U.S.A

Source: The Buddhist Village Times #16 | 2012, Four Deluded Views of Human Beings

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