Relative vs. Ultimate Truth

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Relative vs. Ultimate Truth

Post by spiao » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:24 pm

I've compiled some notes on relative vs. ultimate truth in order to get a better understanding of these two sides of the same coin.
This is an attempt to understanding emptiness in terms of how to perceive them intellectually.

Unfortunately, I can't attach the word doc here (the notes are in a chart format). It's downloadable on my blog: ... ate-truth/

It's a bit inconvenient, but would greatly appreciate any comments and feedback. I just want to check if I'm thinking in the right direction.

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Re: Relative vs. Ultimate Truth

Post by Astus » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:21 pm

spiao wrote:I just want to check if I'm thinking in the right direction.
The conventional/relative truth is whatever is held as valid by people, or simply dependent origination. The ultimate truth is the absence of substance, i.e. emptiness.

So, unlike in your file, inter-dependence is the relative truth, causality, appearances. The middle way is not a third option, but the lack of extreme views.

As for your questions:
- "the conclusion is already built in the premise", the two truths doctrine is not an argument but an educational device
- "Is there any phenomenon that has inherent existence?", no
- "what about abstractions and concepts", they are the products of imagination, nothing more

Wikipedia: Two truths doctrine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: The Theory of Two Truths in India
Patrul Rinpoche: Clarifying the Two Truths
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.

1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Relative vs. Ultimate Truth

Post by Jeff H » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:31 pm

I think what you’re doing is a very good start for someone of your mental inclinations. Just be aware that the objective is to overcome those inclinations. A comparative chart of conventional and absolute truths will not result in understanding them, but they can help you reorient your mind.

You’ve already identified the key practice that will get you there:
a. “How to move from intellectual understanding [of emptiness] to experiential?
1. You just have to [start] with the words, the theories, then through thinking and meditating, they eventually become your experience. […]
2. We need to do many other practices to prime our minds to be able to do it. The Tibetan Buddhists call them “preliminary practices.” You've got to purify your mind. You’ve got to create masses and masses of virtuous karma that prepares your mind [to get] the realization of emptiness” (13-14, Courtin).
I love Ven. Robina and if you get a chance to attend her teachings I highly recommend it. She travels constantly and you can see her schedule here. In the same Lama Yeshe, FPMT lineage teachings, based on Je Tsongkhapa, Geshe Tashi Tsering’s Relative Truth, Ultimate Truth is a very good introduction.

Guy Newland’s Introduction to Emptiness is a very accessible commentary on the emptiness sections of Je Tsongkhapa’s Great Treatise. (It’s available as a free pdf online, but I don’t know if that’s authorized.) Newland also has an excellent, free, recorded seminar on the topic at The Tibetan Learning Center. (Scroll down to “Guy Newland Introduction to Emptiness TBLC”. You’ll see three sessions on April 10, 2011 first and below that four sessions on April 9. The seven sessions comprise the whole teaching.)

You could also check out Khensur Jampa Tegchok's Insight Into Emptiness, a clear explanation of traditional Gelug teachings.

The point is you need to immerse yourself in the descriptions in order to internalize it. It's not a "thing" you can "get" intellectually.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva

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