The two truths

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The two truths

Postby rachMiel » Thu Jul 02, 2015 4:16 pm

The "two truths" is a cornerstone of the Buddhist worldview, and as such is definitely worth understanding.

It's very simple, but very deep. And subtle: I've studied it for years and still learn new things about it every time I dive back in.

This article, by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who lived in the 19th century, is a really good introduction to the two truths:

Clarifying the Two Truths

What's especially good about it imo is that the author repeatedly reminds the reader that, ultimately, there is no essential difference between relative and absolute truth.

Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.

Check it out! :-)
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Re: The two truths

Postby lmp » Fri Jul 03, 2015 8:20 pm

I don't know how, or even if, you wish to discuss it. Or you merely wanted to show and point to it, perhaps both.

If I ask you: do you feel that you find or recognize yourself or can say 'this is where I seem to be at', lets say 'I seem to be at a stage where the terms correct relative and the three first bhumis make sense to me'. Or do you not think that way at all?
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Re: The two truths

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:41 am

Hi Imp. :-)

I'm a simplifier. Though I'm attracted to complex systems that are filled with lots of fancy interlocking parts ... I always end up by reducing them down to what I think of as their essence.

Here's my (current) simplification of the two truths:

Relative/conventional truth = the story is real
Absolute/ultimate truth = the story is a story

Or, from a science perspective:

Conventional truth is to ultimate truth as Newtonian physics is to quantum physics.

How about you? Do the two truths figure into how you see/experience the world?
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Re: The two truths

Postby lmp » Sat Jul 04, 2015 12:00 pm

That is a very concise, or to the point, simplification you have made.

I believe that I have seen that the story is a story, there is a change coming from that, but I would not introduce the word absolute in describing my own experience. So I find/found it very useful or correct splitting up the relative in two parts as mr patrul rinpoche did.

the story is real = incorrect relative/conventional
the story is real but not true = correct relative/conventional
the story is a story = absolute

The bhumis then, again, expand on the middle step.

Thats what I see, some of it anyway.
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Re: The two truths

Postby rachMiel » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:47 pm

I re-read the article and came away realizing how potentially dangerous it is.

For most (all?) of us, it is necessary to (make-)believe a story (correct relative) to drop the story (absolute). It's Buddha's thorn to remove a thorn thing.

To that end, the story of the two truths is useful.

The danger is in the detailed and enticing view of the absolute that it presents. The unenlightened mind can't help but grab onto this description of what seems to be an elevated, even paradisiacal state, and to apply its well-trained analytical skills to the details. (Let me make a checklist of the bhumis; when I reach 10, I'm in!) I see two main problems with this:

An imaginative mind can convince itself that it has achieved that absolute state, that it is living in absolute truth, when in reality it has just achieved the ability to think vividly about the state.

Mind tends to move towards that which it believes in, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, which skews the process and results in false positives.

I can understand why certain esoteric teachings were forbidden to be shared with novices, why Buddha didn't answer several metaphysical questions, etc.
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Re: The two truths

Postby lmp » Mon Jul 06, 2015 11:47 am

A thorn to remove a thorn. I had not seen that expression in context before, so thx for helping me understand that.

It seems to me that I personally tend to go to far, as I think many might do, the thorn is not just a thorn but a rafter/log. The momentum of seeking is itself strong. With that I just mean that there is a tendency to be critical towards thoughts in general, which is not a great summary, eh, you said it well in another thread:

"Throwing away" concepts by attempting to banish them from your conscious mind does way more harm than good. It's also, in the long run, an impossible task. What *is* possible is to cultivate the ability to *see* the concepts for what they are: mental constructs, pointers, metaphors ... and for what they are not: the real things they attempt to point to. "

and also Kiki:

"The desire to change what currently is arising is what stands in the way of consciously abiding in peace. Any "joyful" or ecstatic state that comes will also go, so you cannot have any expectation that that kind of experience will be a permanent experience, so trying to cling to it is futile and will only cause pain when it inevitably goes. The same goes for sorrow; any attempt to get rid of it will only help to keep it in place."
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Re: The two truths

Postby rachMiel » Mon Jul 06, 2015 3:32 pm

lmp wrote:The momentum of seeking is itself strong.

It's a great storyline: The Quest ... for Truth! :-)
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