The essays in this book present views on basic elements in the Buddhist path: the attitudes, concepts, and practices that lead to total freedom for the mind. If the views are right, they themselves form a part of the path. So, to make best use of these essays, it’s important to understand how views function in bringing about freedom.
Any correct statement about the path is a part of right view. And yet the goal of the path—total freedom—includes freedom from attachment to all views. This means that right views don’t stand at the end of the path. In other words, we don’t practice the path simply to arrive at right view. And yet we can’t follow the path without making use of right views. So right views are tools—strategies—to a higher end. They are unique in that their approach to reality leads ultimately to their own transcendence. They are meant to spark the sort of inquiry that takes the mind beyond them. Their efficacy is what proves their truth. Their integrity in action, combined with the worthiness of their outcome, is what makes them, as strategies, noble.
The essays collected here are intended as aids to this program of noble strategy. There is much more to this program than can be contained in this or any other book. After all, right view is only part of the path. But my hope is that these essays will help get you started on the right path to freedom, and that the points they raise will prove useful along the way.
August, 1999; December, 2018