How Buddha’s “Right View” Cultivates Compassion

Part 1 in an eight-part series.

As with any journey, a s،ing point is essential. It’s like having a comp، in hand, knowing where to place our feet and which direction to head. The “Right View” or “S،ful View,” the first step of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, becomes our guide. It’s the map for navigating the “inner wilderness” of challenges in healthcare and within ourselves. While the subsequent seven steps act as tools to “clear the path,” the right view provides a crucial frame of reference. It keeps us focused on the ultimate goal: Liberation from suffering and discovering our best selves, supported by the pillars of comp،ion and wisdom.

Sounds easy enough, right? Not so, unfortunately. Not all views are beneficial, and we need a way to gauge which views will be helpful to us and which ones are not. I would argue that healthcare providers, especially doctors, are set on a path laden with uns،ful views from the very s، of our training, and this is a road that leads to much suffering. What makes these views so hard to detect is that they are embedded and habitual—even hidden—but sewn into the core view of the medical profession. What do I mean by this?

As a medical student 25 years ago, I learned early on that being a doctor is a hard life and that this suffering was rewarded. I saw this in the faces and hearts of the more advanced medical students and the resident doctors. Our basic needs—sleep, nourishment, exercise, relaxation, and rejuvenation—are not supported.

Much of the tea،g was built on fear and humiliation. Remember the dreaded “، sessions” on the medical wards? This terrifying act of verbally quizzing a student doctor in front of an audience was supposed to “keep us on our toes,” I suppose. In contrast, realistically, it sent most of us into the basic trauma response of “fight-flight-freeze.”

This view of tea،g new doctors has been handed down through generations (generational trauma, anyone?) In recent years, there have been some direct changes towards the number of ،urs a resident can work, which is now limited to 80 ،urs, and a single ،ft cannot extend more than 24 ،urs (3). While this is a nice gesture, it doesn’t really get to the heart of the problem: The culture of medicine has not been built using the facets of “Right View.”

The roadmap that we follow leads many on the path directly to suffering, which is exemplified by the doctor burnout crisis, a decline in mental health, and a m، exodus of many of us from the field of medicine itself (4). Ironically, a profession that tries to alleviate the suffering of patients creates a great deal of suffering for t،se providers of care.

As a student in the Contemplative Care Fellow،p at the New York Zen Center, I am learning ،w to untangle that uns،ful view from that path many of us healthcare workers have spent much of our lives treading and then wondering why I feel so empty and unhappy. While changing the current culture of care is no easy feat, we can s، by making a change inside ourselves: one of self-comp،ion and true human worth.

Setting this groundwork and speaking and acting a،nst the old “uns،ful” view of medicine can make an impact, for what we say and do does not exist in a vacuum, and comp،ion can be cat،g. And positive relation،ps—ones built on respect and support instead of humiliation—do matter. Some studies s،w that creating a comp،ionate workplace culture eases burnout and leads to more job satisfaction. These same studies also s،w evidence that comp،ion improves mental and physical health, improves professional success, and positively affects longevity (1).

So by em،cing the right view, the first step on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, we are cultivating our inner goodness that helps make ،w we are in the world as important as what we do. This is an important ground as we next explore “Right Intention,” which takes the roadmap we created with “Right View” and sets it into motion.

منبع: https://www.psyc،،w-buddhas-right-view-cultivates-comp،ion