Jechbi wrote:What is the classical Theravada position with regard to how one goes about adopting a view that might conflict with views one has had for a long time, perhaps even for many lifetimes? What is the method for adopting this right view?
And excellent question! In short, I'm not sure.
I had thought that the correct method to address this type of phenomenon would be:
1) To recognize any such thoughts as not right view.
2) To continue with the practices of right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, right concentration, right intention, and right view to the best of one's ability, recognizing that right view has not been perfected, and that in fact none of these practices has been perfected.
3) And as a result of applying all of these practices, right view will develop according to kamma.
Seems like a good approach. The important part there seems to be "recognizing that right view has not been perfected". For example, I still pursue sensual pleasures (TV, food, etc.), but I recognize this is not in accord with the Buddha's teachings, that it is a result of a defiled mind, and I keep my eyes open for insights that will help loosen my attachment to these defiled thoughts. In a similar way, a person can recognize their wrong view as wrong, the product of defilements, and strive to find ways to loosen attachments to that wrong view.
What we find a lot of on these forums are people who insist wrong view is actually right, that the Buddha didn't actually teach rebirth. When I argue with these people, it is not with the hope that they will suddenly change their view, but only that they will recognize their "view has not yet been perfected".
But I wonder if this approach is in line with classical Theravada thought, because an argument seems to be made that the correct method for adopting right view regarding rebirth is to simply accept it, regardless of whether one believes it.
Maybe we can differentiate between "adopting a view" which is an active choice and "believing" which is a passive result of past conditions? I'll think about it. What I do know is the Buddha teaches belief, view, faith all arise due to conditions. And I seem to recall the conditions for right view arising is to associate with good people and hear the true Dhamma; the arising of faith is to associate with good people and observe their behavior is free from greed, hatred, and delusion; the arising of conviction comes from seeing for oneself that the Path leads where the Buddha says it leads.
I think it's important to remember the goal is not to see that rebirth is true. The goal is to see that adopting right view, which includes the view of rebirth, leads to the ending of suffering.
To me that seems like putting the cart before the horse, although I stand to be corrected.
Maybe we can think of our beliefs as products of the defilements and adopting right view as part of the path to eradicating the defilements. After all, we cultivate the path in order to eradicate the defilements. It is not the case that we first eliminate the defilements and only then start cultivating the path.
Anyway, this is a good question and I don't have any definite answers. If this post seems rambling and confused it's because it is.