The Two Truths

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Vajradhara, Nov 20, 2003.

  1. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    in my tradition, we say it like this: Two truths we declare there to be, relative (samvriti satya) and absolute (paramartha satya).

    relative or worldly truth (samvriti satya) is the manner in which we enter the door of practice. we recognize the presence of happiness and the presence of suffering, and we try to go in the direction of increased happiness. every day we go a little further in that direction, and one day we realize that suffering and happiness are "not two."

    it can be expressed in a poem, to an extent, by a ancient Vietnamese poet:

    People talk endlessly about their suffering and their joy.
    But what is there to suffer to be joyful about?
    Joy from sensual pleasure always leads to pain,
    and suffering while practicing the Way always brings joy.
    Wherever there is joy, there is suffering.
    If you want to have no-suffering, you must accept no-joy.

    the poet is trying to leap into absolute truth without walking the path of relative truth. many people think that in order to avoid suffering, they have to give up joy, and they call this "transcending joy and suffering." this is not correct.

    if you recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain exists, joy also exists. without experiencing relative joy, you will not know what to do when you are face-to-face with absolute joy. don't get caught in theories or ideas, such as saying that suffering is an illusion or that we have to "transcend" both suffering and joy. just stay in touch with what is actually going on, and you will touch the true nature of suffering and the true nature of joy.

    in the Discourse on Turning the Wheel of the Dharma, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths of dhukka, the cause of dhukka, the cessation of dhukka and the path. this is an example of the relative truth. in the Heart Sutra, Bodhisattva Avolekiteshavara tells us that there is no dhukka, no cause of dhukka, no cessation of dhukka and no path. this is teaching in terms of absolute truth. perhaps this gatha (verse) can elucidate the meaning more clearly:

    All conditioned things are impermanent.
    They are phenomena, subject to birth and death.
    When birth and death no longer are,
    the complete silencing is joy.

    the first two lines express relative truth, while the third and forth lines express absolute truth.

    "all conditioned things" includes physical, physiological, and psychological phenomena. "complete silencing" means nirvana, the extinction of all concepts. when the Buddha say, "The complete silencing is joy." he means that thinking, conceptualizing and speaking have come to and end. this is the Thrid Noble Truth in absolute terms.

    let me provide a convient simile to facilitate understanding, that of the relationship between a wave and water.

    a wave can be recognized by signs - high or low, beginning or ending, beautiful or ugly. but in the world of water, there are no signs. in the world of relative truth, the wave feels happy as she swells, and she feels sad when she falls. she may think, "I am high" or "I am low," and develop a superiority or inferiority complex. but when the wave touches her true nature - which is water - all her complexes will cease, and she will transcend birth and death.

    we become arrogant when things go well, and we are afraid of falling or being low or inadequate. but these are relative ideas, and when they end, a feeling of completeness and satisfaction arises. liberation is the ability to go from the world of signs to the world of true nature. we need the relative world of the wave, but we also need to touch the water, the ground of our being, to have real peace and joy. we shouldn't allow relative truth to imprison us and keep us from touching absolute truth. looking deeply into relative truth, we penetrate the absolute. relative and absolute truths inter-embrace. both truths, relative and absolute, have a value.
     
  2. louis

    louis New Member

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    truths

    relative or worldly truth (samvriti satya) is the manner in which we enter the door of practice. we recognize the presence of happiness and the presence of suffering, and we try to go in the direction of increased happiness. every day we go a little further in that direction, and one day we realize that suffering and happiness are "not two."

    From Louis....

    I find this very interesting, but I am clearly out of my
    depth here...
    I have never practised any form of religion, western or
    eastern, but you seem to be talking about the rational
    v.s non-rational sides of the human mind.My thinking tends to be very literal and clinical on that subject.
    I percieve my mind to have two sides : the intellect -
    or reasoning side - is dominant in me. The emotional -
    or intuitive side - is something I use only for appreciating
    things like art and music.
    One thing I've noticed : the emotional side is always "FOR
    or AGAINST" something ( joy v.s pain ) - no such thing as
    a neutral emotion - whereas the intellect is ALWAYS neutral ( no joy or pain - just objective judgement ) .
    Is this what you are expressing in poetic language or
    am I way off the mark ? If so, how far off ?
     
  3. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    absolute and relative

    Your pardon is craved - I've tried to submit posts to this thread three times but it has logged me out and lost much work each time. I shall try again.

    I agree in general but would elaborate on a relationship between the absolute and relative experiences of truth.

    One is that as the absolute does not vary while the relative does, how can this be? Baha'u'llah in _The Seven Valleys_ relates: `It is clear to thine Eminence that all the variations which the wayfarer in the stages of his journey beholdeth in the realms of being, proceed from his own vision. We shall give an example of this, that its meaning may become fully clear: Consider the visible sun; although it shineth with one radiance upon all things, and at the behest of the King of Manifestation bestoweth light on all creation, yet in each place it becometh manifest and sheddeth its bounty according to the potentialities of that place. For instance, in a mirror it reflecteth its own disk and shape, and this is due to the sensitivity of the mirror; in a crystal it maketh fire to appear, and in other things it showeth only the effect of its shining, but not its full disk. And yet, through that effect, by the command of the Creator, it traineth each thing according to the quality of that thing, as thou observest.

    In like manner, colors become visible in every object according to the nature of that object. For instance, in a yellow globe, the rays shine yellow; in a white the rays are white; and in a red, the red rays are manifest. Then these variations are from the object, not from the shining light. And if a place be shut away from the light, as by walls or a roof, it will be entirely bereft of the splendor of the light, nor will the sun shine thereon.

    Thus it is that certain invalid souls have confined the lands of knowledge within the wall of self and passion, and clouded them with ignorance and blindness, and have been veiled from the light of the mystic sun and the mysteries of the Eternal Beloved; they have strayed afar from the jewelled wisdom of the lucid Faith of the Lord of Messengers, have been shut out of the sanctuary of the All-Beauteous One, and banished from the Ka'bih of splendor." '

    Another aspect is that a detachment, a sense of dispassion, can serve to pierce some of the relativeness of truth - " O My brother! When a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading unto the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this Day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the Divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error." More of this theme can be found here

    I offer to extend the issue some - consider widely different ways to view the world. Consider if one could "see" by neutrinoes. There would be no solid ground beneath your feet, no trees and mountains to hold your vision, no real sun in the sky to note the passing of day and night. Instead above and below would be the same - and endless haze speckeled dimly with faint lights and a near continuous flashing of lights across the sky (that is to say somewhere in the sky there would be a flash about every second) from supernovae and similar events. No beautiful butterflies, no smile on your wife's face, no rain clouds. But if one "saw" with sonar then the sky would be a endless echoless dead zone with thin layers of clouds with booms of lightening and other sounds coming down. No stars, no sun, no moon. But we would see eachother - not as of one skin color or another but as bodies of organs. Pregnancy and cancer and healthy hearts and many diseases would be obvious to eachother. We would "see" around corners somewhat and expect moving things far away to not be anywhere close to where we "see" them that instant.

    Now extend the argument some - look to the affect of attitude on perception. With one motion and one intention a viewer with a sence of being a victim or aggression or love "sees" a tyrant, an enemy or a lover. While such attitudes may enable us to react quickly to situations they also cloud our vision to the other situations.
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste smkolins,


    hopefully, any posting problems that you've had will not be present after the move to the UK!

    so... the Baha'i have a conception of relative and absolute truths as well... excellent.

    are these expounded in any detail.. i.e. what they are and how they are different and useful?
     
  5. Zenda71

    Zenda71 New Member

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    It's my nature to joke ... so I hope I don't offend.

    As Chevy Chase said, "Be the ball!"

    ;)
     
  6. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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  7. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    expoudning absolute and relative ways of truth

    Namaste
    That may take a while.... ;-)
    I've been having little internet problems at home so I'm squeezing this in on my lunch break at work. Expounded.... well I offered a few quotes and links to longer parts of those quotes. There are other investigations about literal and figurative/symbolic as well. For example"...clung to the literal interpretation of the words of Jesus...(long page - search for text)... the symbolic words of the Manifestations of God..."

    Specific examples are often mentioned in connection with these examples and ones earlier cited.
     
  8. kkawohl

    kkawohl New Member

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    The Ultimate Truth is indecipherable by the human mind and can only be divulged to the spirit which also often misinterprets its meaning, hence we have various religions and beliefs.

    Namaste,
    Kurt
     
  9. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste kurt,

    thank you for the post.

    interesting.. in my tradition we say that the range of religious beliefs is due to the varying capacities of beings to practice the Dharma.

    what is the spirit, in your example? is it an aspect of consciousness? is it an aspect of the soul? is it something altogether different?
     
  10. kkawohl

    kkawohl New Member

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    IMHO, the spirit or soul exists in the collective mental processes of the subconscious the subconscious part of the mind and is also where the mental processes of creativity originate. The conscience adds to and stores life experiences into the subconscious of the mind which is the spirit or soul. If the conscience is anesthetized by other than righteous conduct the existence of the spirit gradually fades and is eventually extinguished.

    Existence is reality. When physical existence ceases, conclusions are often surmised that all existence ceases and spirituality is sometimes perceived to be an illusion in the physical dimension. The Ultimate Reality is spiritual and is often an illusion to the physical reality.

    It is of no importance during our physical life whether a Spiritual Existence or God exists or not if one so chooses. Whether or not one believes in a spirit or God really makes no difference. Righteous living will determine the continuance and destiny of our spirit/soul. One's life can be enhanced by receiving solace and being comforted during life's trials and tribulations and by having our spirit rejoice by a belief and hope of a spiritual continuance immediately prior to physical death. The alternative is despair of a complete and useless death forever. Hope and inspiration rejoices our spirit and gives us a reason for continuing during hopeless times. There is a reason for our existence just like there is a reason for the existence of everything in the universe.

    Namaste,
    Kurt
     

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