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What do people mean when they say they're searching for 'ultimate truth' ..In regards to what???

Ive never understood what 'ultimate truth' means..

People say Buddhism helps them find and learn the meaning of ultimate truth?
But in regards to what??

Do they mean truth in why we suffer???
If so, then that isnt ULTIMATE TRUTH, thats just truth about suffering (and even some non buddhist might disagree about why we suffer) therefore its not ultimate truth is it??

What does ULTIMATE TRUTH mean?
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Comments

  • Honesty, it means different things to different people. Just look at the religions or spiritualities seekers of truth settle for, they're wildly different but each claim to have the ultimate truth.
    I guess for most people it's something along the lines of a simple concept that explains why the universe exists (science can tell us how, but still not why) and why we're alive i.e. what our purpose is. God ties this up in a neat little package as the concept explains why the universe exists (God did it) and why we exist (God made us). The problem with that is there is absolutely no evidence for God's existence, nor an explanation for why God should exist in the first place. It just replaces one set of questions with another.

    For Buddhists, again the ultimate truth will vary between traditions, but it'll be a variation on the theme of Nirvana opening our eyes to the true nature of existence, at which point questions like why are we here? and why does the universe exist? are simultaneously answered and rendered meaningless. Again, unless you reach enlightenment that "ultimate truth" is as distant and non-cognisant to us as the concept of God. However, the method laid out by the Buddha does supply benefits to pre-enlightenment practitioners and allows for glimpses at the ultimate nature of reality (voidness, impermanence, clinging etc).
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    So basically, if 'truth' varies, even for buddhists (like different traditions) then surely, there is no 'ULTIMATE' truth because to say 'ULTIMATE' , that indicates there is only ONE TRUTH ! (Even if there was ONE ULTIMATE TRUTH , i dont believe anyone will or could figure it out! It'll ne impossible! (Even if one became enlightened, that doesnt mean they will now know the ultimate truth about why we are here etc ...

    Thats why i ask; "what does ultimate truth mean? Why are some people searching for the ultimate truth when it is impossible to find it! We can even go so far in space , so how are we going to 'find' ultimate truth... (We can all come up with ideas as to why we are here etc.. But even then we would never know if we were right) unless GOD told us himself (even then , to those who dont believe in what , there ultimate truth would be different to those who do believe, so again, we will never know ULTIMATE TRUTH!
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    As you know I barely have the sense I was born with.
    :buck:
    Being in a 'State of Grace' (or in my case - disgrace) is Attunement with the Ultimate Truth.

    I have the T-shirt.

    In Buddhist terms it is entering the stream of Buddha Mind, or a kensho - awakening.
    Sadly it is not something directly explainable but rather something we allude to:

    This is what it says on my T-shirt:
    'You are wearing the Ultimate Truth.
    Strange but True.'




    swaydam
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Can 'truth' mean different things to different people? I find this an odd idea. It seems to me that truth cannot be an interpretation because an interpretation is a conjecture. Nor do I see how truth cannot vary between traditions. Truth would have nothing to do with traditions.

    'Knowing the ancient origin is the essense of Tao', says Lao Tsu, and I don't see why Buddhists shouldn't know this as well. So that would be one 'ultimate truth'. All metaphysical truths are ultimate truths and I believe that we can know them all. 'The unknown is not the unknowable', say the Upanishads. Perhaps the fact that nothing really exists would also be an example of an ultimate truth that can be known.

    It is notable that the Sufi sage Al-Halaj is crucified not for saying that he knows truth, but that he is truth. and this would be a complication. Ultimate truths are known by identity, by becoming, not by interpretation and intellection, and in the last resort there would be no knower and no known. Perhaps this is even the final ultimate truth that we can know.

    Briefly, I believe that there is nothing that can be known which we cannot know, and that the answers to most and possibly all questions that we can formulate can be known. Thus we can speak sensibly of the Buddha's omniscience.
    riverflow
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Oh. Some posts arrived while I was typing. @zenmyste - I think the point about Al-Halaj answers your objection to ultimate truths. You're right, even if God told us a truth we wouldn't know it is true, but we would if we are God. Ultimate truths are known by identity, there would be no other way to know them. (It's a point that Aristotle makes).
    zenmyste
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    Ultimate truth is a truth which transcends all projections of thought.
    riverflow
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Yep. Knowledge by identity, and as such incommunicable.
    riverflow
  • zenmyste said:

    So basically, if 'truth' varies, even for buddhists (like different traditions) then surely, there is no 'ULTIMATE' truth because to say 'ULTIMATE' , that indicates there is only ONE TRUTH ! (Even if there was ONE ULTIMATE TRUTH , i dont believe anyone will or could figure it out! It'll ne impossible! (Even if one became enlightened, that doesnt mean they will now know the ultimate truth about why we are here etc ...

    Why did you ask the question if you've already convinced yourself there is no answer?

  • From my own perspective, as someone practising Buddhism, "ultimate truth" (whatever that might be) is another delusion to learn to drop, rather than to seek after. Its just chasing after one more thing "out there," except this time its dressed up in fancy metaphysical packaging.

    The very notion of "ultimate truth" is based on many epistemological assumptions, all rooted in dualism. How can an eyeball see itself? At best, it should be investigated only in order to deconstruct it (ala Nagarjuna) as one step of letting go of "ultimate truth." So the aim is aimlessless, non-abiding-- which is a paradoxical trust of each moment as it arises at this moment.

    Dualism at root for me is a deeply rooted distrust, and separation-- "ontological fragmentation." The notion of an "ultimate truth" (or an "ultimate falsehood") is yet another expression of distrust. Buddhism provides a helpful way to unlearn this lack of trust which arises out of the mind.
    karastiswaydam
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Hang on @riverflow. I agree with what you say but don't see it as the whole story. As the Upanishads ask, how can knowledge exist when there is no knower apart from the known? The thing is, knowing that knowledge is eventually transcended by being is knowing an ultimate truth by being, ie. knowledge by identity.

    I presume you'd agree that when the Buddha tells us that there is a path to the cessation of suffering he is speaking from a knowledge of absolute truth. Not an intellectual knowledge, but something more like what Kant calls 'non-intuitive immediate knowledge'.

    Hmm. Not feeling very literate this morning, but maybe you'll see what I'm getting at.

    Maybe the 'ultimate truth' question has two opposing answers, conventional and ultimate, and this is why we seem to slightly disagree.
    riverflowDrusillaFaithswaydam
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    Chrysalid said:

    zenmyste said:

    So basically, if 'truth' varies, even for buddhists (like different traditions) then surely, there is no 'ULTIMATE' truth because to say 'ULTIMATE' , that indicates there is only ONE TRUTH ! (Even if there was ONE ULTIMATE TRUTH , i dont believe anyone will or could figure it out! It'll ne impossible! (Even if one became enlightened, that doesnt mean they will now know the ultimate truth about why we are here etc ...

    Why did you ask the question if you've already convinced yourself there is no answer?

    There are over 7 billion people in the world. Whether or not i am convinced everyones grass is green, id always be interested in other peoples thoughts, whether they disputed it or not!

    (I believe grass is green but how do we know it is for sure? God could come down one day and say, "grass is actually red" you are all wrong!

    We will NEVER EVER KNOW! But i still like listening to others debates!

    vinlyn
  • riverflowriverflow Veteran
    edited May 2013
    @Florian - I think we may be more or less on the same page, but perhaps expressing it differently.

    The Two Truths doctrine, as I understand it, provides a dialectical method to get beyond the notion of either "relative" or "ultimate" truth. That "getting beyond" is non-abiding-- there is nothing to hang onto, not even the notion of some sort of metaphysical truth.

    I prefer not to say it this way, but this is just another way of saying that "ultimate truth" is not a concept, nor can it be conceptualised or formulated. The only thing necessary is to learn to drop drop drop delusion after delusion (resulting from dualism, or "ontological fragmentation"), including the delusion of an "ultimate truth" (just saying "ultimate truth" automatically invents a reified abstract concept).

    In this way, the "ultimate truth" will take care of itself-- why chase after "it" when you are soaking in "it"-- you are "it"? But I think even that is saying too much. If we think "ultimate truth" is something to seek (whatever it might be), then we are just pulling harder on the Chinese finger trap.

    Metaphysics is a mistake, but I think it is worth investigating only in order to move beyond it, and to let it go (like Wittgenstein's ladder).
    zenmysteJeffrey
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Maybe "ultimate truth" is just a fancy way of saying someone is seeking relief -- but wants it to sound good. Sorta like a regular T-shirt with a designer label.

    The Zen teacher Ta Hui (1089-1163) once directly encouraged a student to "stop seeking for relief!"

    "Ultimate Truth" sounds more wispy-wise and philosophically intricate and forgiving than get-me-outta-here!
    riverflowzenmyste
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    Florian said:


    It is notable that the Sufi sage Al-Halaj is crucified not for saying that he knows truth, but that he is truth.

    During spiritual intoxication Al-Halaj said he was al-Ḥaqq. The Truth. This indeed was true. When he entered a state of sobriety, Al-Halaj was shocked at his statement because Al-Haq is an attribute of the Divine Ultimate Truth (Allah) not of mere mortals. He demanded his own execution for blasphemy. Despite remonstrations from his teacher, trying to dissuade this course of action, Al-Halaj insisted.

    Al-Halaj was executed.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mansur_Al-Hallaj

    This is what Al-Halaj says about the Ultimate Truth:

    Concealment does not veil Him
    His pre-existence preceded time,
    His being preceded not-being,
    His eternity preceded limit.

    He acts without contact,
    instructs without meeting,
    guides without pointing.
    Desires do not conflict with Him,
    thoughts do not mingle with Him:
    His essence is without qualification (takyeef),
    His action without effort (takleef).

    "There is that dimension where there is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor wind; neither dimension of the infinitude of space, nor dimension of the infinitude of consciousness, nor dimension of nothingness, nor dimension of neither perception nor non-perception; neither this world, nor the next world, nor sun, nor moon. And there, I say, there is neither coming, nor going, nor stasis; neither passing away nor arising: without stance, without foundation, without support [mental object]. This, just this, is the end of stress."
    The Buddha
    zenffpersonDrusillaFaithJeffrey
  • SabreSabre Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Ultimate doesn't mean one understand everything ultimately, it means there is no way to see more clearly, there no more wrong ideas in the mind. So it is ultimate in the way of not being covered by another layer, not clouded by dust in the eyes. Ultimate clear view, you could say, sees ultimate truth.

    The Dharma is the ultimate reality. It's seeing things from a different perspective, seeing the whole instead of the individual. This is what is also called 'right view'. Conventional truth is when people talk in terms of "I" and "you", beings, but right view sees that in reality there aren't really beings. To see this is to understand the four noble truths as well, because it is essentially the same thing put in other words. But those words are then again a form of conventional truth.
    DrusillaFaithJeffrey
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 2013
    It means to see what the Buddha saw when he got enlightenment. To know what someone who has attained "Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi", knows. IMO. :)

    [blockquote]"And by mistakenly clinging to the appearance of things they lose the Way. If you know that everything comes from the mind, don’t become attached. Once attached, you’re unaware. But once you see your own nature, the entire Canon becomes so much prose. Its thousands of sutras and shastras only amount to a clear mind. Understanding comes in midsentence. What good are doctrines? The ultimate Truth is beyond words. Doctrines are words.

    They’re not the Way. The Way is wordless. Words are illusions. They’re no different from things that appear in your dreams at night, be they palaces or carriages, forested parks or lakeside ‘lions. Don’t conceive any delight for such things. They’re all cradles of rebirth. Keep this in mind when you approach death. Don’t cling to appearances, and you’ll break through all barriers. A moment’s hesitation and you’ll be under the spell of devils. Your real body is pure and impervious. But because of delusions you’re unaware of it. And because of this you suffer karma in vain. Wherever you find delight, you find bondage. But once you awaken to your original body and mind," you’re no longer bound by attachments."~Bodhidharma[/blockquote]

    I think he is also talking about attachment to the words "ultimate truth" too! :)

    One of my favorite paragraphs of his:

    [blockquote]Those who don’t understand, don’t understand understanding. And those who understand, understand not understanding. People capable of true vision know that the mind is empty. They transcend both understanding and not understanding. The absence of both understanding and not understanding is true understanding. Seen with true vision, form isn’t simply form, because form depends on mind. And mind isn’t simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other. That which exists exists in relation to that which doesn’t exist. And that which doesn’t exist doesn’t exist in relation to that which exists. This is true vision. By means of such vision nothing is seen and nothing is not seen. Such vision reaches throughout the ten directions without seeing: because nothing is seen; because not seeing is seen; because seeing isn’t seeing. What mortals see are delusions. True vision is detached from seeing. The mind and the world are opposites, and vision arises where they meet. When your mind doesn’t stir inside, the world doesn’t arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is true vision. And such understanding is true understanding. ~Bodhidharma[/blockquote]

    I think this is what people are talking about when they say "ultimate truth"! IMO. :)

    JeffreyFullCircle
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    seeker242 said:

    It means to see what the Buddha saw when he got enlightenment, IMO. :)

    But Buddha still wouldnt have known what lies beyond space would he, he wouldnt have known WHY he is here, why he was born, where he goes after death, what 'is' life? Where did life come from? How and why everything dies etc etc... So therefore he didnt know the ULTIMATE TRUTH did he???

    He only saw how and why he was suffering!

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    What makes you think he didn't know those things? After all, he did say he only taught some of the things that he learned, not all of it because the rest is not relevant to suffering and it's end. There is a scripture somewhere that talks about this, I forgot which one though. But the jist of it was "I have seen many things and understood many things, this teaching I give here is some of it, not all of it" Or something like that. I will try to look up that scripture when I have more time. It's pretty interesting. :)
  • newtechnewtech Veteran
    zenmyste said:

    Ive never understood what 'ultimate truth' means..

    People say Buddhism helps them find and learn the meaning of ultimate truth?
    But in regards to what??

    Do they mean truth in why we suffer???
    If so, then that isnt ULTIMATE TRUTH, thats just truth about suffering (and even some non buddhist might disagree about why we suffer) therefore its not ultimate truth is it??

    What does ULTIMATE TRUTH mean?

    Hi there,

    "the ultimate truth" is just a weird term for saying things are always impermanent, a potential source of suffering (because they change), and not-self. This are called the 3 marks of existence, or "the truth on how conditionated phenomenas actually are".

    In reference to what it is said?: The buddha taught that everything we experience is part of a process called dependent origination (phenomenas like the body, thoughts,feelings,perceptions and consciousness arise and cease all the time when the conditions are right for it, "u" actually dont have anything to do with it).

    So?: We have the false idea, that when a thought come up it is ours,we make it happen, or we get mad when a feelings changes from pleasant to unpleasant.

    This view goes agaisnt reality, thats why it is said that we dont see "the ultimate truth", that is, again: Things are impermanent, potential cause of suffering, and not self. (all caused because of craving/ignorance).









    Jeffrey
  • nenkohainenkohai Veteran
    I dunno. I guess my problem with the concept of "truth," (ultimate or otherwise) that its either a "1" or a "0." It implies a binary system of thought. ANd I often wonder (to borrow from Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men), if we can handle the truth. We may find we don't WANT the truth. Because, I think the "ultimate" truth actually has very little to do with human beings. I think we are unprepared to hear that.

    Random and scattered, I know....
    Sabrekarasti
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    I think the "ultimate truth" does have somewhat different meanings to different people because their mindset helps them determine what they see as the ultimate truth. FOr example, most of the people on this forum have some idea of what the "ultimate truth" is, and it's a Buddhist mindset. People on a Christian website would have their idea of what the ultimate truth may be, but from a Christian mindset.

    But to each person and group, the "ultimate truth" boils down to something that is the meaning of life or how life works...something in that sphere.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I think it means seeing life as it is, once your conditioned responses, and emotional issues and neuroses that cloud your vision fall aside.
    Jeffrey
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited May 2013
    zenmyste said:

    Ive never understood what 'ultimate truth' means..

    People say Buddhism helps them find and learn the meaning of ultimate truth?
    But in regards to what??

    Do they mean truth in why we suffer???
    If so, then that isnt ULTIMATE TRUTH, thats just truth about suffering (and even some non buddhist might disagree about why we suffer) therefore its not ultimate truth is it??

    What does ULTIMATE TRUTH mean?

    The answer will depend on who you ask. But according to the commenterial tradition of Theravada, ultimate truth (paramattha-sacca) refers to a level of truth or understanding that's not relative or based on conventional appearances or designations (i.e., sammuti-sacca or 'commonly accepted truth'), but a deeper level of understanding of the underlying reality of things as they are arising from insight into the conditioned, impermanent, and selfless nature of phenomena.
    Jeffreylobster
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Awakened heart or bodhicitta. That is the sun. And then truths in our condtional lives are like the rays of the sun. But the rays are not the sun.
    riverflowrivercanepersonlobster
  • FullCircleFullCircle Explorer
    "(I believe grass is green but how do we know it is for sure? God could come down one day and say, "grass is actually red" you are all wrong! "

    @zenmyste
    Why is the grass green? We were born in an english speaking country and taught English so we label grass as grass and as green. It's just another concept. Does God speak English? I think ultimate truth is when we realize all thoughts are just concepts- the mind wants to think it can understand... But instead we have to stop listening to it:)!
    Maybe that's why ultimate truth is universal- it's beyond our silly thinking minds:)
    personkarmablues
  • seeker242 said:

    What makes you think he didn't know those things? After all, he did say he only taught some of the things that he learned, not all of it because the rest is not relevant to suffering and it's end. There is a scripture somewhere that talks about this, I forgot which one though. But the jist of it was "I have seen many things and understood many things, this teaching I give here is some of it, not all of it" Or something like that. I will try to look up that scripture when I have more time. It's pretty interesting. :)

    I have always been fascinated by that scripture. I've also forgotten which one it is, but I think in other places the Buddha stated that he taught according to the time and place and capacity of the student.

    If I recall correctly, the Lotus Sutra was purposely given to the care of the Naga to hold in their world until humanity was ready to comprehend the truth of the Lotus Sutra. So there could be many things that humanity is still not ready to comprehend and perhaps some things the Buddha did not feel was necessary to reveal; perhaps it would only serve as a distraction or may be impossible to explain, one would have to experience it for themselves.

    I believe in the two truths doctrine, and I believe there is such a thing as ultimate truth. Emptiness would be an example of ultimate truth.
    Florian
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 2013
    I don't believe in the two truths doctrine. I think that concept is just a tool to help some students, but in the end, I think it complicates things too much, and becomes kind of jargon-y. Some students get way too caught up in the whole relative vs. absolute thing. It can be taken too far. But if it helps people understand some questions of doctrine, that's ok, as long as they realize it's just a tool, and they can put it down when they've learned the lessons/concepts they need to understand.

    Here's a thread discussing it.
    http://www.newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/234658
    Jeffrey
  • robotrobot Veteran
    Dakini said:

    I don't believe in the two truths doctrine. I think that concept is just a tool to help some students, but in the end, I think it complicates things too much, and becomes kind of jargon-y. Some students get way too caught up in the whole relative vs. absolute thing. It can be taken too far. But if it helps people understand some questions of doctrine, that's ok, as long as they realize it's just a tool, and they can put it down when they've learned the lessons/concepts they need to understand.

    Here's a thread discussing it.
    http://www.newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/234658

    The two truths are not in opposition to one another. It's not really a matter of understanding some concept or question of doctrine.
    It is about realizing emptiness. It is wisdom. It's where letting go of attachment starts. The beginning of the end of suffering.
    Once you have realized the two truths, the ultimate in the mundane, you cannot unrealized it. You can't put it down.
    Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes not, but its always there.
    Just my opinion. Pretty jargony for sure.
    riverflowFullCircle
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    robot said:


    It is about realizing emptiness. It is wisdom. It's where letting go of attachment starts. The beginning of the end of suffering.

    I think this is possible to achieve without resorting to casting matters in terms of two truths, ultimate and mundane.

  • The two truths doctrine is, as I see it, a sort of "fail safe device" that prevents a metaphysical hierarchy from being established, where the relative relies entirely on an ultimate "ground of being." In other words, the relative and the ultimate are interdependent and they are both empty of some sort of essential, unchanging being. So emptiness is empty also, not some sort of metaphysical substratum of the world.

    By imperfect analogy (and to show just how peculiar Buddhism is with these matters): God does not exist prior to existence, and he then creates the world. This would give God a special metaphysical precedence over existence. Well, that is a fairly standard way of understanding God as the ground of all being in the Abrahamic religions. But imagine that if this God instead were not independent of the world, but instead was interdependent with it, so that the world creates God just as equally as God creates the world at this very moment, so that they co-create one another-- THAT is the sort of thing the two truths points toward (something that would be regarded as heresy in Abrahamic religions, though you might find something similar to this in Whitehead's process theology).

    This sort of hierarchical thinking is very common-- you don't have to be a philosopher or theologian to get caught up in such thinking. I call the two truths doctrine a fail safe device because it prevents a sort of escapism into emptiness or nihilism-- where everything, is fundamentally empty--FULL STOP. But that is NOT the full story, because this makes emptiness something unique and distinct from everything else. Emptiness too is empty. But "emptiness is empty" points to way of realising emptiness not as metaphysical information about the world, but as a method to realise emptiness as more than a mere intellectual concept. It is meant to help shove you out of concepts and is helpful in realising the Middle Way.

    The two truths doctrine helps to deconstruct a metaphysical understanding of the world by using metaphysics, throwing oneself back HERE and NOW-- which is where you have always been in the first place. Nirvana is not "somewhere else" to escape to--you've been standing on "the other shore" all this time!
    rivercaneJeffreykarmablues
  • "As for the world of phenomena, we are inclined to believe that it is illusory, separate from reality. And we think that only by ridding ourselves of it we will be able to reach the world of true mind. That is also an error. This world of birth and death, this world of lemon trees and maple trees, is the world of reality in itself. There is no reality that exists outside of the lemon and maple trees. The sea is either calm or stormy. If you want a calm sea, you cannot get it by suppressing the stormy sea. You must wait for the same sea to become calm. The world of reality is that of lemon and maple trees, of mountains and rivers. If you see it, it is present in its complete reality. If you do not, it is a world of ghosts and concepts, of birth and death." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Keys
    Jeffrey
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    edited May 2013
    The doctrine of two truths is an ineluctable consequence of the theory of emptiness, both being an ineluctable consequence of the truth of nonduality.

    If we do not believe in the doctrine of two truths then we do not believe in the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism or advaita Vedanta, nor in the via negativa of the Christians and others, which is the other legitimate response to the unspeakableness of the truth. They are all aspects and outcomes of the same underlying ultimate truth, viz. nonduality. Think of quantum mechnics. Is an electron a wave or a particle? Or both or neither? The situation demands a language of two truths, which is the same language of complementary complementarity that is used in Buddhism. It might be better called the doctrine of two half-truths, or even of two falsities.

    George Melhuish in 'The Paradoxical Universe' gives the only other possible response, (besides resorting to a non-ordinary language or shutting up completely), which is to say that the universe makes no sense. This turns into Priest and Routley's 'Dialethism', which is worth a look if you're into metaphysics. Dialethism accepts Nagarjuna's metaphysical result but interprets it differently, as a proof that there are true contradictions. For Buddhism there would be no true contradictions and the world would make complete sense.

    The two truths are not opposed but two ways of talking or thinking, either conventionally or ultimately. When Lao Tsu says 'True words seem paradoxical' he was endorsing the doctrine of two truths. These two truths are not actually paradoxical but they may seem so for a dualistic mindset. For a nondualistic mindset they are two aspects of an underlying truth that cannot be expressed. Yin and Yang if you like, the two faces of the mountain, as well as which there is the mountain. The principle of nonduality is so profound that Lao Tsu need make no exceptions to his rule for words that are absolutely true. Absolute truths would have to be expressed by the use of contradiction and paradox. It's just how it is.

    @Riverflow makes the point that that this doctrine prevents us from making metaphyscial mistakes, and I would add also from misinterpreting teachings that may seem to be incorrect from a ultimate viewpoint, as for the first turning of the wheel.
    riverflowrivercane
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Dakini said:

    I don't believe in the two truths doctrine. I think that concept is just a tool to help some students, but in the end, I think it complicates things too much, and becomes kind of jargon-y. Some students get way too caught up in the whole relative vs. absolute thing. It can be taken too far. But if it helps people understand some questions of doctrine, that's ok, as long as they realize it's just a tool, and they can put it down when they've learned the lessons/concepts they need to understand.

    Here's a thread discussing it.
    http://www.newbuddhist.com/discussion/comment/234658

    Even in the teachings of one guy he stated that only a Buddha sees how the two truths are unified. They are taught as two because it gives ordinary beings an insight. Svatantrika view of emptiness has the two truths because it posits emptiness. Prasangika view doesn't posit anything (such as dependent origination) and thus they don't teach the two truths.

    Just an example of the flaw in TT is the belief that when you are meditating it is emptiness and then you get up and it is relative. How did that happen? If emptiness is the greater truth what motive for not creating bad karma other than common sense? After all you can just see that everything is ok from ultimate truth.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Ultimate truths:

    You are going to die
    You don't know when
    Everything you get engaged in will fall apart eventually
    vinlynlobsterBeej
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    Jeffrey said:

    Ultimate truths:

    You are going to die
    You don't know when
    Everything you get engaged in will fall apart eventually

    Someone who takes their own life 'does' know when hes going to die.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    Florian said:

    The doctrine of two truths is an ineluctable consequence of the theory of emptiness, both being an ineluctable consequence of the truth of nonduality.

    If we do not believe in the doctrine of two truths then we do not believe in the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism or advaita Vedanta, nor in the via negativa of the Christians and others, which is the other legitimate response to the unspeakableness of the truth.

    Scholars of Buddhism say the Buddha never taught the two truths doctrine. That was developed later, by later commentators. I'm not sure why we shoudl care re: whether we believe in Taoism or Vedanta. We're Buddhists.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    @Dakini, if we don't include later teachings we are stuck with the Abhidharma as a description of truth. I feel Madyamaka is more powerful and accurate than the Abhidharma. It is like the evolution of truth.

    If later Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot add to the truth then what is the point of them getting enlightened to help all beings? If it is not a real possibility to become enlightened then it's a moot point what Buddha taught. If it is possible to become enlightened then why not later enlightened teachers put a finer polish on the razor edge of the dharma? (I'm thinking of that analogy because I just started learning wood carving starting with sharpening the tools)

    In Tibetan Buddhism there are teachings on the nature of reality, the truth. Then there are sutras that are provisional and are meant to inspire the student through curiousity and knowledge; it's fun to learn. And the third teaching is meditation which is set up to take the truths of reality deeply as your own nature unfolds.
    lobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Well, if people find the 2 Truths doctrine helpful, then fine. I think it complicates things unnecessarily, but that's just me. And of course, there's the pitfall that some fall into, in thinking that Two Truths means Two Moralities; that Ultimate morality means the teacher or Bodhisattva is justified in not observing conventional morality, a whole snarl of an issue in itself.

    But as for the 2 Truths doctrine as a teaching--different strokes for different folks, I guess. I think it's perfectly possible to study and practice Buddhism without it, lots of people do it. Isn't it a Mahayana thing, anyway? idk, I just find it's better to keep things simple. But again--that's just me. Fortunately, there are people like Stephen Batchelor who agree, and have a very commonsense approach to Buddhism, which I find helpful in some respects.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @Dakini, yes you have freedom of choice :) The two truths is just a raft that is helpful when contemplating the nature of reality. Absolutely, it is a mahayana teaching. The Theravada does say that when the self is dropped suffering drops and the two truths is a way to understand 'form is emptiness and emptiness is form' as @riverflow explained in a very nice post. And that is a line from the heart sutra which is also mahayana though some common ground with Theravada.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Here's a link to a Tibetan teacher of high regard:

    http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/teachers/tea16.php - about the teacher

    http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddhism/cul/cul03.php
    When we hold on to the mode of appearance of things, the conventional truth, as having some kind of true existence, then the various kinds of sufferings arise, and the various disturbing emotions. So conditioned existence or samsara arises from holding onto the way things appear as being real, as being true, as having some kind of innate existence. So then, realizing the mode of the way things are, realizing the ultimate truth, pacifies or dispels all of the various disturbing emotions; from that one gains nirvana. Briefly, then, attaching to the mode of appearance as having true existence--this is the confused mind or the bewildered mind. Therefore, it is necessary to reverse that bewildered mind and to realize the nature of things as they are.

    Whatever phenomenon there is to be known, that phenomenon can be known in terms of the conventional truth, or it can be known in terms of the ultimate truth, but only in terms of these two truths and not in terms of any other truths. Because of the importance of knowing that phenomena have their existence in terms of these two truths, the Buddha said that all phenomena whatsoever can be known through these two truths, ultimate and conventional, and not in any other way.
    karmablues
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    image

    Templates are varied. Containers are varied. Religions are varied.
    The Tao, the living waters, the Holy Spirit, Nirvana, the Ultimate Truth of 'life the universe and everything (42)', takes shape or expression in a surprising number of potty containments.

    What is it that pours? In Buddhism we say . . . wait for it . . . actually . . . . that is what we do . . .
    . . . Create a vessel to empty/fill and sit and wait for an 'empty filling' . . .

    Emaho (how wonderful)
    http://www.emaho.co.za/about-us/what-does-emaho-mean/index.html
    FullCircle
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    Dakini said:

    Scholars of Buddhism say the Buddha never taught the two truths doctrine. That was developed later, by later commentators. I'm not sure why we should care re: whether we believe in Taoism or Vedanta. We're Buddhists.

    Quite so. It was Nagarjuna who explained the philosophical ramifications of the Buddhas teachings. But to dismiss Taoism and advaita is to dismiss nondualism, and thus to dismiss Buddhism.
  • JohnGJohnG Veteran
    Many people search for what's unobtainable in this life; I believe it's the ego that talks at this time, a way to set themselves up above others.
  • There are two sides of truth in existence i.e. the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. When addressing a problem, in the first place, we need to ensure whether our point of view is from the conventional perspective or from the ultimate perspective.

    For example, from the conventional perspective, we agree that duality or multiplicity does exist. Therefore, Nibbana is a phenomenon because we are speaking as a subject on the other side of the object or matter. In other words, the subject is pondering on the object or matter - phenomenon arises. However, from the ultimate perspective, we would then agree that no duality or multiplicity arises. Therefore, Nibbana is not a phenomenon (also applies on all other things) because there is no subject to ponder on the object or matter. In other words, no phenomenon arises if we speak from the ultimate perspective.

    Conventional truth is a subjective and a relative truth. This means the truth orientation is dependent on the observer (i.e. the subject’s mind) to provide with the description, definition, recognition, valuation, etc. on the other side of the object or matter. And the truth conclusion varies among different observers or minds.

    Whereas, an ultimate truth is a reality that exists beyond mind and beyond concepts and words in the sense that it is beyond our usual ways of perceiving things. Language and conception only imply that things exist in distinct manners i.e. wise person, dumb person, saint, devil, etc. - in such well-defined and independent categories. Perceiving ultimate reality is seeing that things do not exist in these fantasised, impossible ways, in black and white categories.

    The principle in effect: -

    If one stays on with seeing conventional truth only, one would remain in Samsāra,
    If one stays on with seeing both conventional truth and ultimate truth, one has the choice of remaining either in Samsāra or Nibbana,
    If one stays on with seeing ultimate truth only, one would remain in Nibbana.
    lobsterFlorian
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    image
    riverflowBeej
  • FlorianFlorian Veteran
    edited May 2013
    @buddhitakso - Nice post.

    I'm not quite sure about your three divisions of the 'principle in effect', but time will tell.
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    lobster said:

    image

    But hes wanting to get to the 'other side'

    Whats the meaning of this picture?
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    edited May 2013
    @zenmyste - its referencing perspective. to the guy on the right, the "other side" is something different than what it is to the guy on the left. The snail, who isnt in a hurry to get somewhere, represents the "ultimate truth".

    there is but one truth, but there are many roads/perspectives to get to this truth. "crossing" something to get there isnt necessary, though it is commonly viewed that it is necesarry.

    at least thats MY take on it. :)
    riverflowzenmyste
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran

    @zenmyste - its referencing perspective. to the guy on the right, the "other side" is something different than what it is to the guy on the left. The snail, who isnt in a hurry to get somewhere, represents the "ultimate truth".

    there is but one truth, but there are many roads/perspectives to get to this truth. "crossing" something to get there isnt necessary, though it is commonly viewed that it is necesarry.

    at least thats MY take on it. :)

    Thanks for your answer. And i 'get it' ... But then in reality, sometimes we 'need' to get on the other side, and this is why we lean towards others for inspiration etc, and what good is it really if everyone said "you are on the other side" ... Sometimes its not helpful at all!

    (Dont get me wrong, i like the picture (its very zen, and i owe alot to zen being in my life... I just dont think these 'koan' kind of story/pictures are appropriate sometimes.. (Especially if someone has got real problems and are trying to seek help to 'cross the other side'

    Also, i personally dont agree with the snail.... The sun doesnt always shine on 'both' sides..

    Again, thanks for your answer :)
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    edited May 2013
    i think you are viewing it very literally, which could certainly lead to confusion. its just a representation and i dont think its necesarilly designed to help anyone, except maybe to the artist who created it. the reason i appreciate the cartoon is that its basically impossible to express the "ultimate truth" with our language, but still we try. these things go beyond our conceptual referencing and are really not expressible in words, so to speak. so what happens, in response, is that art is created. music is played. dances are done. and love is made. these actions are all attempts to express the "inexpressible" in real time. its the notion that everything that you need is already present within you, and that its easier to ge at this when you stop looking for it elsewhere. the hindsight objectification of created art is usually even a little silly to the artist because its more about the process of creation than it is the "finished" result. its a co-op with all this constant arising. Again though, just MY take on it. :)
    lobsterriverflow
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