The Highest Truth

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by CobblersApprentice, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. A Catholic scholar, Heinrich Dumoulin, has written.....

    Whether, on its deepest ground, being is personal or impersonal, is something that humans will never be able to plumb by their rational powers. Here we face a decision which one makes according to one's own tradition and upbringing, and still more according to one's faith and experience. The Christian sees ultimate reality revealed in the personal love of God as shown in Christ, the Buddhist in the silence of the Buddha. Yet they agree on two things: that the ultimate mystery is ineffable, and that it should be manifest to human beings. The inscription on a Chinese stone figure of the Buddha, dated 746, reads......


    "The Highest truth is without image.

    If there were no image at all, however, there would be no way for truth to be manifested.

    The highest principle is without words.

    But if there were not words at all, how could principle possibly be revealed?"



    Well, once my grandaughter, who was not yet three, was not to be fooled. After a year or so of "grandad's special pizza" she saw through the whole thing.........."THAT'S not pizza, that's cheese on toast". And Grandad, chastened, retired to the kitchen to lick his wounds.


    (Just to add, I would offer the thought that " the silence of the Buddha" as used above, for me relates to the Middle Way, and is thus not in opposition to "personal" as such)
     
  2. Words have cropped up on another section, with various languages being mentioned. Often, especially in the west, Zen is spoken of (!) as having "no dependence upon words and letters", a transmission "outside of scriptures."

    "Don't mistake the finger that points for the moon itself" is quoted time and time again on Buddhist forums (including by me!!) as the highest wisdom.

    Dogen, the 13th century zen master, wondered why, if such were true, why the masters of old spent so much time studying texts, and even left their own voluminous writings behind them.

    He thus sought for the reason for words and letters (Japanese monji no dori) Having his cake and eating it too, he spoke of a nondiscriminative Zen (ichimizen) based on words and letters, this if future generations "devote efforts to spiritual practice by seeing the universe through words and letters, and words and letters through the universe."

    To Dogen, language and symbols "held the potential of opening, rather than circumscribing, reality."

    He spoke of the need, not to abandon the use of language, but rather to use it to our advantage instead of being victimised by it.

    Well, much there above a poor Pure Landers head; I simply know that when She Who Must Be Obeyed speaks, I jump.
     
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  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    I'm sure! It's our only way to communicate with each other, and if we don't to that, we loose our communal consciousness. We would be alone, reinventing the Zen, over and over again.

    But it's tricky! Full of traps that way is!
     
  4. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    “Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth.”
    -Khalil Gibran

    To me, language and symbols hold the potential for both (as Gibran points out above). On a related note consider Confucius:

    "The Master said, 'I am thinking of giving up speech.' Tzu-kung said, 'If you did not speak, what would there be for us, your disciples, to transmit?' The Master said, 'What does Heaven ever say? Yet there are four seasons going round and there are the hundred things coming into being. What does Heaven ever say?"
    -The Analects 17.19​
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
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  5. Not half as tricky as claiming a HMRC refund online, but runs it close.

    Here is one of Thomas Merton's translations of Chuang Tzu:-


    The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish, and when the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
    The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
    The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.
    Where can I find a man who has forgotten words? He is the one I would like to talk to.

    I carry on with Dogen, but his thought is "tricky"........he does say somewhere that at the point of not understanding, there is our understanding. The problem is, I don't understand him! :)
     
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  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic)

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    I feel you!

    At one point, years ago, I took a resolve of "less theory, more practice" out of frustration with my intellectual limitations.

    Your Pure Land approach seems to be a good mix of the two.

    Always harder to convey the "practice" part in forum posts.
     
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  7. It suits me simply because I can learn of it from a distance. Reading of its emergence and subsequent history, it has its in-fighting and schisms just like every other creed/religion/faith. (Which is not totally bad as I see it, at least people care)

    It also has a great tradition of what could be called "self cultivation". Not sure myself exactly where self cultivation ends and clarity of mind begins. I keep saying the Nembutsu (thank you, thank you, thank you) and stumble on.
     
  8. stranger

    stranger lost in the night

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    This is to walk in grace, IMO. I might use different words, different conceptualizations, but I believe it is the same. Why must it be so? Because it is all I have left. All else has been exhausted, worn out. It eventually comes down to Grace. Here resides life.
     
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  9. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    No final truth, no highest light, just always a higher and brighter, imo ...
     
  10. I look upon this from a slightly different context. The "highest truth" more what Merton called the Hidden Ground of Love, also radical freedom, others God.

    Incomprehensible. Maybe we can "know" or share it, by grace, within freedom.

    In the context you imply, I agree in a sense. The journey itself is home.
     
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  11. My final comment you quote, regarding She Who Must Be Obeyed, was a joke. Nevertheless, I agree with you. We can find rest in Grace.
     
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  12. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    May I get an answer from the question, "What is the Highest Truth"?
     
  13. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    If there is such a thing as "Absolute" [all else being relative] then we should go in that direction.

    But it can't [evidently] be approached in the Ascending Method [aka by our own strengths] it is via grace [aka the Descending Method, it is bestowed upon the candidate]. I gave the example of a Beautiful woman that ya'll ain't got a chance in the world of touching, even glancing at is daunting ---but if she bestows it to you ... ah Salvation! [This is a metaphor].

    We learn by hearing. We have revelations & revealed truths and the final exam [aka death] allows for re-do's.
     
  14. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    1] Yes. She Must Be Obeyed.
    [I refer here to bowel movements, or, breathing while asleep etc ---meaning we living entities
    Must Obey common un-avoidable denominators that dictate life.]

    2] The Lord God is a Masculine Persona and the Manifest & Un-manifest creations, the Lord God's Creative Aspects, are Feminine.
    It is said, God is the creator and his Consort is the Creative. Aka, male Purusha & feminine Shakti.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
  15. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    In the 1880's onward poets and playwrights [Chekhov, etc] spoke in such ebullient flowery words ... then came the next 100 years.
     
  16. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Sorry, you've lost me?
     
  17. I feel for you, often I can't work it out if someone is agreeing with me or disputing my very own brand of waffle. Anyway, I'm not really familiar with Chekhov (with "etc" I might be) so how ebullient or flowery his words were I would not know. I saw the comment as some sort of recognition of the watershed in human apprehension of the divine created by such events as the First World War, announcements of physicists et al, most of which have sent the faithful back to the past. Others however, like the Jewish exiles by the waters of Babylon, have asked "how do we sing the Lord's song in a strange Land"? Various answers, maybe we all have to find our own song to sing.

    @bhaktajan seems often to be playful, like Krishna perhaps, with his penny whistle or kazoo, leading his cow-girls on a merry dance. Taunting with tall tales of beautiful ladies who unfortunately cannot be touched.

    EDIT:- or is it milkmaids? :)

    2nd EDIT:- interesting book on this by Peter Watson, "The Age Of Nothing" or "How We Have Sought To Live Since The Death Of God". (I believe it is called by another name in the USA)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2019
  18. I think it was G K Chesterton who said something about his preference for valleys. "Great things are seen from the valleys, only small things from the mountaintops" - something like that. When contemplating the "highest" we can find ourselves stepping on a dog's turd, and I'm a bit confused if this supports G K or not.
     
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  19. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Exactly. I have found that every neo-hip concept of modernity had been already contemplated and acted upon by the end of the 1899.
    But these neo-hip concepts of modernity were accessible only by the F. Scott Fitzgerald's of the time...interrupted by two world wars.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
    Three Sisters is a play by the Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov.
    It was written in 1900 and first performed in 1901 at the Moscow Art Theatre.
    The play is sometimes included on the short list of Chekhov's outstanding plays,
    along with The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull and Uncle Vanya.

    ...full of expectation. She speaks of her dream of going to Moscow and meeting her true love. ... It was in Moscow that the sisters grew up, and they all long to return to the sophistication and happiness of that time...
    the point was to show the hopes, aspirations and dreams of the characters,
    but audiences were affected by the pathos of the sisters' loneliness and desperation ... and by their eventual, uncomplaining acceptance of their situation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(play)

    or,

    Beatles' song "It's getting better all the time"

    or, the song with the words:

    It's the dawning of the age of Aquarius...

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


    "ebullient or flowery his words" are refereed to in the Gita ---due to semantics being an old time hurdle of scriptural study [like that scene in Life of Brian]--- "Flowery words of the Vedas":

    "Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas,
    which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets,
    resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification
    and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this."
    [Chapter 2: Contents of the Gita Summarized TEXTS 42-43]
    https://asitis.com/2/42-43.html

    That is very common...Worse is when it's sort of obvious and yet NOT cleared up.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
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  20. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    That little black kid Krishna is only 8 years old when he danced with the village cowherd girls.
    When that little black kid Krishna was living down on the dairy farm, he'd play a flute and the calves and their family would gather around.
    Anyway the whole village was full of kids and together they'd help mind the dairy herds as best they could.

    Naw, na, no ... when I mentioned beautiful women, it was a metaphor for a man's goal. And how such a goal was obtainable only via her grace upon a suitable candidate. Similarly the Highest Truth can be "bestowed" ---but never obtained by one's own prowess.
     
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