Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

There is no such thing as truth?

I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata. So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

Let's discuss.

Comments

  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited February 15

    Edit: Can't be arsed ... feel free to delete this @federica

    Buddhadragon
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    A Truth is not a substance or matter; a Truth is a concept.
    A truth exists as long as you retain that concept. A concept is a moveable feast.

    There is The Truth, of course. In fact, as you will doubtless remember, there are 4 of them.
    They're called Noble because they're irrefutable.
    These Truths existed before you were born; they will be there when you die.
    These Truths are not dependent on anyone believing in them or not. They simply Are.
    They exist independently of Cause and Conditions, because they are not of cause and condition.
    They Are.
    Gravity is Gravity, whether it's called Gravity or not. It exists whether you believe in it or not. It doesn't need you to believe in it.
    It's just there.

    Nargajuna is not the only authority on Sunyata.
    There are other 'truths' available for consideration. After all, his truth is merely a concept.
    It's not written in stone.

    karastiBuddhadragon
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 15

    I dont think so because then the statement "there's no truth" is not true.

    As far as I understand, Nagarjuna doesn't imply there is no truth. He says the truth is a mixed bag. The two truths are one truth and are not seperate. They are not opposed but complimentary. Not just the self but everything is empty.

    The only thing that stays the same is the fact that everything changes.

    Carameltail
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    The gist of Nagarjuna is this... Because everything is empty, no thing is impossible and nothing is an impossibility.

    Buddhadragon
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @federica said:
    A Truth is not a substance or matter; a Truth is a concept.
    A truth exists as long as you retain that concept. A concept is a moveable feast.

    There is The Truth, of course. In fact, as you will doubtless remember, there are 4 of them.
    They're called Noble because they're irrefutable.
    These Truths existed before you were born; they will be there when you die.
    These Truths are not dependent on anyone believing in them or not. They simply Are.
    They exist independently of Cause and Conditions, because they are not of cause and condition.
    They Are.
    Gravity is Gravity, whether it's called Gravity or not. It exists whether you believe in it or not. It doesn't need you to believe in it.
    It's just there.

    Nargajuna is not the only authority on Sunyata.
    There are other 'truths' available for consideration. After all, his truth is merely a concept.
    It's not written in stone.

    I get what you're saying and in the context you mean it I agree with you, they aren't a formulation of human thought and language. But in the context of Nagarjuna and DO, the noble truths are dependently originated. They depend on sentient beings with minds that have the ability to suffer, they depend on a world that is changeable. Gravity depends on matter, what does gravity even mean without objects that it attracts?

    Basically, Nagarjuna is talking about something different than what you are talking about.

    DakiniBuddhadragon
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @techie said:
    I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

    Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

    But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata. So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

    Let's discuss.

    Good question, I don't really know Nagarjuna's views on worlds beyond the material one. I do think though that something immaterial would probably also fall into the realm of conditionality and thus DO. So I would say that some kind of spirit world isn't ruled out automatically by Nagarjuna.

    If Nirvana is thought of or grasped at as being something other, then it is not Nirvana. But also to think of or grasp at Nirvana as not existing misses the mark as well.

    Traveller
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @person said: ... Basically, Nagarjuna is talking about something different than what you are talking about.

    Oh. Pardon my ignorance.

    No sarcasm or snark intended. :)

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @person said:

    @techie said:
    I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

    Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

    But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata. So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

    Let's discuss.

    Good question, I don't really know Nagarjuna's views on worlds beyond the material one. I do think though that something immaterial would probably also fall into the realm of conditionality and thus DO. So I would say that some kind of spirit world isn't ruled out automatically by Nagarjuna.

    If Nirvana is thought of or grasped at as being something other, then it is not Nirvana. But also to think of or grasp at Nirvana as not existing misses the mark as well.

    That's what I am asking. If everything, including the 'spirit' world, is empty (going by DO logic), then what exactly are we striving for?

  • Let's discuss.

    Decline

    DakiniKundoBuddhadragon
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @techie said:

    @person said:

    @techie said:
    I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

    Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

    But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata. So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

    Let's discuss.

    Good question, I don't really know Nagarjuna's views on worlds beyond the material one. I do think though that something immaterial would probably also fall into the realm of conditionality and thus DO. So I would say that some kind of spirit world isn't ruled out automatically by Nagarjuna.

    If Nirvana is thought of or grasped at as being something other, then it is not Nirvana. But also to think of or grasp at Nirvana as not existing misses the mark as well.

    That's what I am asking. If everything, including the 'spirit' world, is empty (going by DO logic), then what exactly are we striving for?

    Spiritual release. Being dependently originated doesn't mean nonexistent as much as it doesn't mean existent.

    Travellerkarasti
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited February 16

    Nagarjuna's position

    Nagarjuna refutes positions, he doesn't take them.

    "If I had a position, no doubt fault could be found with it. Since I have no position, that problem does not arise."

    I find this to be a good summary.

    One of the difficulties a Western reader has with Nagarjuna is that the Mulamadhyamakakarika is based on classical Indian, rather than Western logic. Western logical traditions see only two possibilities in an argument — truth or falsity. It may try to prove another truth through negation. For example, if a car is not red, it must be some other colour. Indian traditions use four positions: true (not false), false (not true), both true and false, and neither true nor false (prasanga or tetralemma).

    Needless to say, this form of argumentation is difficult for a Western reader used to a completely different line of reasoning. However, Nagarjuna goes even one step further, basically arguing, “None of the above”, leaving the reader with nowhere to go and nothing to grasp. Nagarjuna used negation not to prove another viewpoint or truth but to negate all viewpoints. He thereby destroyed all logical arguments or speculation about Ultimate reality, denying the inherent existence of any such ‘reality’.

    .

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then?

    Yes, in a manner of speaking.

    “Ultimate serenity is the coming-to-rest of all ways of ‘taking’ things, the repose of named things. No truth has been taught by a Buddha for anyone anywhere.”

    TravellerDairyLamapersonJeffrey
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 16

    @techie said:
    That's what I am asking. If everything, including the 'spirit' world, is empty (going by DO logic), then what exactly are we striving for?

    We are striving for liberating insight.

    As described in the opening verse of the Heart Sutra:

    "The Bodhisattva of Compassion,
    When he meditated deeply,
    Saw the emptiness of all five skandhas
    And sundered the bonds that caused him suffering."

    HozanlobsterDakiniBuddhadragon
  • @seeker242 said:

    Needless to say, this form of argumentation is difficult for a Western reader used to a completely different line of reasoning. However, Nagarjuna goes even one step further, basically arguing, “None of the above”, leaving the reader with nowhere to go and nothing to grasp. Nagarjuna used negation not to prove another viewpoint or truth but to negate all viewpoints. He thereby destroyed all logical arguments or speculation about Ultimate reality, denying the inherent existence of any such ‘reality’.

    I think this summarises it quite well.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited February 16

    @person said:
    Being dependently originated doesn't mean nonexistent as much as it doesn't mean existent.

    Yes, this is also in the suttas:

    "By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one....

    "'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications...."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

    lobsterpersonBuddhadragon
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    There is no such thing as truth?

    Is that true ???

    I can't say it's true. Can't say it's not. Can't say it's both, can't say it's neither. It is not all of the above, nor is it none of the above.

    See, I just became the Nagarjuna of Nagarjunas. Lol.

    personShoshinTosh
  • techietechie India Veteran

    @DairyLama said:

    @person said:
    Being dependently originated doesn't mean nonexistent as much as it doesn't mean existent.

    Yes, this is also in the suttas:

    "By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one....

    "'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications...."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

    All this is ontology. I am talking soteriology. In other religions, there is god or brahman (or something absolute or what may be called truth) which delivers people. Here knowing that there is no truth delivers people?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 16

    @techie said:

    @DairyLama said:

    @person said:
    Being dependently originated doesn't mean nonexistent as much as it doesn't mean existent.

    Yes, this is also in the suttas:

    "By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one....

    "'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications...."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

    All this is ontology. I am talking soteriology. In other religions, there is god or brahman (or something absolute or what may be called truth) which delivers people. Here knowing that there is no truth delivers people?

    From the sounds of it, it confuses more people than it delivers.

    Knowing there is no truth would mean that that knowing is false.

    Once I get past the initial cool and mystical sound of it, it starts to sound like nonsense.

    Can there be meaning with no real truth?

    Shoshin
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @techie said:

    @DairyLama said:

    @person said:
    Being dependently originated doesn't mean nonexistent as much as it doesn't mean existent.

    Yes, this is also in the suttas:

    "By & large, Kaccayana, this world is supported by (takes as its object) a polarity, that of existence & non-existence. But when one sees the origination of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'non-existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one. When one sees the cessation of the world as it actually is with right discernment, 'existence' with reference to the world does not occur to one....

    "'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications...."

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

    All this is ontology. I am talking soteriology. In other religions, there is god or brahman (or something absolute or what may be called truth) which delivers people. Here knowing that there is no truth delivers people?

    Salvation, as it is in Buddhism, is gained by abandoning all views, not by taking a view or some thing that saves.

    Buddhadragon
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @techie said:

    @Shoshin said:

    There is no such thing as truth?

    Is that true ???

    I can't say it's true. Can't say it's not. Can't say it's both, can't say it's neither. It is not all of the above, nor is it none of the above.

    Is that true ?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    It's true he's being evasive. Because I think he now realises that first of all, he seems to have misunderstood Nargajuna (as I must confess at this point, did I) and secondly, he's probably beginning to wish he'd never asked!!

    image

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 16

    @techie said:
    I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

    More rightly, he is famous for expounding on Buddha's teaching on sunyata. His teaching does not deviate from the teaching of Buddha.

    Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

    They are empty of a starting point and a core but are related to everything else.

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

    Let's think about that. If there is no real truth in Buddhism then Sunyata isnt even a truth. We see suffering and we know beings suffer. Is there then no cessation to suffering as in the 4NT?

    But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata.

    I think an absolute reality would slightly change just by virtue of being witnessed by subjectivity.

    A completely objective truth would need to take every perspective into account without showing bias to any one in particular.

    So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

    Let's discuss.

    He taught that any distinction at all is convention.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    This here is a real good overview of Madhyamaka.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-169701540/sets/introduction-to-the-middle-way

    It's interesting but it's about 15 hours of lecture and is just a beginning summary, lol. =)

    David
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited February 16

    Nagarjunas Analysis of Causality and of Nirvana... The last two stanzas.

    What is identity and what is difference?
    What is eternity, what noneternity,
    What means eternity and noneternity together,
    What means negation of both issues?

    Bliss consists in the cessation of all thought,
    In the quiescence of plurality.
    No separate reality was preached at all,
    Nowhere and none by Buddha!

    From Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha by E.A. Burtt

    Buddhadragon
  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @techie said:
    I am reading Nagarjuna at the moment. As some of you may already know, he is famous for his sunyata concept.

    Seen within the context of DO, it simply means that no entity exists independently; they are born of multiple conditions and causes. So basically, all things are empty of essence or self.

    Wouldn't it follow that there is no such as truth, then? In abrahamic religions, this ultimate truth is god. In Hinduism, they say there is an absolute truth beyond this phenomenal world etc.

    But in Buddhism, there cannot be an absolute truth, existing independently of causes and conditions, since that would go against sunyata. So what exactly was Nagarjuna's position - that there is no such thing as absolute truth beyond this material world?

    Let's discuss.

    -From my perspective, Context is key. I would argue all phenomenon have a relationship to Context, from the thoughts that arise and breaths we take, to that which the universe seems to be expanding into...

  • @person said:
    Salvation, as it is in Buddhism, is gained by abandoning all views, not by taking a view or some thing that saves.

    I would say that metaphysical views are progressively replaced by liberating insight into the transient and conditional nature of experience ( aka the aggregates ). As described in the Heart Sutra.

    person
  • JaySonJaySon Florida Veteran

    The truth is beyond concepts, notions, ideas, labels, duality.

    Not even Nagarjuna's finger is the moon. Like the Buddha's finger, it is also pointing at the moon.

    CarameltailShoshin
  • There is no such thing as 'sweet' because 'sweet' must be composite?

  • techietechie India Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    There is no such thing as 'sweet' because 'sweet' must be composite?

    It's a relative truth. When we say truth, we usually mean an absolute that isn't subject to change, conditions, etc.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @techie said:

    @Jeffrey said:
    There is no such thing as 'sweet' because 'sweet' must be composite?

    It's a relative truth. When we say truth, we usually mean an absolute that isn't subject to change, conditions, etc.

    I think the only thing unconditional is the truth of change. This is why the absolute truth is said to be empty. Not because there is no truth. Having no beginning and no end is still emptiness with ever changing conditions.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    There is no such thing as truth?

    I'm reminded of this....

    "Everything evolves...will come to mean 'nothing' is true"

    ~Nietzsche~

  • ToshTosh Veteran

    Thich Naht Hahn, who I find a bit flowery for my tastes, does a good explanation of emptiness here:

    https://www.lionsroar.com/the-fullness-of-emptiness/

    Kerome
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 18

    I think it's an interesting question at least what I am thinking of. And what I am thinking of is the question of how my subjective knowing meets with objective knowing. The ever popular tree in a forest question. How does my subjective knowing even of teasing my thoughts into English sentences meet with an objective knowing?

    Like say you imagine a tree falling and so you are present with your thoughts of tree falling. But you are imagining it. But then there can actually be a tree falling not just in imagination. How is my imagination related to the actual universe? And does either my imagination or the universe have a boundary in space? Is the universe totally separate from my imagination? Or do they meet and connect somehow? Is it a question based on wrong assumptions?

    person
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    I think it's an interesting question at least what I am thinking of. And what I am thinking of is the question of how my subjective knowing meets with objective knowing. The ever popular tree in a forest question. How does my subjective knowing even of teasing my thoughts into English sentences meet with an objective knowing?

    Like say you imagine a tree falling and so you are present with your thoughts of tree falling. But you are imagining it. But then there can actually be a tree falling not just in imagination. How is my imagination related to the actual universe? And does either my imagination or the universe have a boundary in space? Is the universe totally separate from my imagination? Or do they meet and connect somehow? Is it a question based on wrong assumptions?

    I like the question, I think it is pretty deep. I think what you're asking is how does the material world interact with the immaterial mind. I don't think I can begin to come up with an answer myself. But what comes to mind has to do with one of the main objections to a dualistic understanding of consciousness.. Something like how can the material world have an impact on the immaterial mind and vis versa. Maybe there is some sort of interaction at a very subtle, maybe informational level going on that we can't see right now.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited February 18

    Yeah something like that but not just limited to relationships between senses and brain in the body. And more broadly thinking how all and any thoughts are connected to anything in the objective or material world. So more broad than just a pain in the finger coming from biological receptors to pain in the body and going up nerves to the spinal cord and brain and then being processed in the brain and probably processed in parallel with many little parts of the brain. I'm thinking to include imagination and all of the variety of stuff that we might say is mental.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    Yeah something like that but not just limited to relationships between senses and brain in the body. And more broadly thinking how all and any thoughts are connected to anything in the objective or material world. So more broad than just a pain in the finger coming from biological receptors to pain in the body and going up nerves to the spinal cord and brain and then being processed in the brain and probably processed in parallel with many little parts of the brain. I'm thinking to include imagination and all of the variety of stuff that we might say is mental.

    Maybe the objects in the world act as a sort of raw material for our imagination? Or are you asking what is the source for creativity? Like how do we take the basic building blocks of what we experience in the world, mash it all up and crank out something new?

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @techie said:
    That's what I am asking. If everything, including the 'spirit' world, is empty (going by DO logic), then what exactly are we striving for?

    First of all, we are soooo not striving.

    Second, beyond all the hair-splitting overuse of little grey cells and logical burnout, we are still stranded here and have to make the best of our temporary passage through samsara.

    I was told the name of the game was cessation of dukkha and I am game for it.
    Only that cessation of dukkha happens right here and now: it is not something we run after, least of all, strive for.
    It's an ongoing process of volitional choice-making: my choices have consequences, let them be as skillful as possible.
    That way, my life will be as dukkha-free -at least from self-inflicted dukkha- as possible.

    The Mahayana emphasis on emptiness of all phenomena is for us to be liberated from the delusion of separateness and our tendency to take our personal projections for ultimate truth, carved in stone, better than other people's "truths."
    To be liberated from delusion, ignorance, at large, in a nutshell.
    And as they say, half-truths, philosophies appropriated and misunderstood, are worse than ignorance.

    TravellerlobsterHozanKundo
  • Well said @DhammaDragon =)

    Soooo Not Striving ...
    I'll join. Wait ... nothing to join, nothing to break apart ...

    [lobster brain ache]
    OM MANI PADME HUM DE HA B)

    BuddhadragonHozan
Sign In or Register to comment.