Double Truth aka Two Truths

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Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:08 am

The question of the notion of two truths was brought up in another thread. The question there was asked if the Buddha taught the idea of two truths. The answer, of course, is that it is not an idea that is found explicitly stated in the suttas. It is, however, an idea that is held to be implicit in the suttas, and where it finds it fuller expression is in the Abhidhamma and the commentaries.

A detailed discussion of so-called two truths is found in this linked PDF:

http://skb.or.kr/down/papers/094.pdf

The question is raised: While in the later Sanskrit, Mahayana, literature it seems that the expression “two truths” is used, but is it actually called “two truths” in the Theravadin literature?

The above linked PDF is titled: THERAVADA VERSION OF THE TWO TRUTHS, but its author, the Ven Y. Karunadasa, also uses the expression in his essay “double truth,” which is a better fit for what is being talked about here.

Ven Karunadasa gives us this from the Anguttara Nikaya commentaries:

Herein references to living beings, gods, Brahma, etc., are sammuti-kathā [“relative truth”], whereas references to impermanence, suffering, egolessness, the aggregates of the empiric individuality, the spheres and elements of sense perception and mind-cognition, bases of mindfulness, right effort, etc., are paramattha-kathā ["highest truth"].

One who is capable of understanding and penetrating to the truth and hoisting the flag of Arahantship when the teaching is set out in terms of generally accepted conventions, to him the Buddha preaches the doctrine based on sammuti-kathā.

One who is capable of understanding and penetrating to the truth and hoisting the flag of Arahantship when the teaching is set out in terms of ultimate categories, to him the Buddha preaches the doctrine based on paramattha-kathā.

To one who is capable of awakening to the truth through sammuti-kathā , the teaching is not presented on the basis of paramattha-kathā, and conversely, to one who is capable of awakening to the truth through paramattha-kathā, the teaching is not presented on the basis of sammuti-kathā.

There is this simile on this matter: Just as a teacher of the three Vedas who is capable of explaining their meaning in different dialects might teach his pupils, adopting the particular dialect, which each pupil understands, even so the Buddha preaches the doctrine adopting, according to the suitability of the occasion, either the sammuti- or the paramattha-kathā.

It is by taking into consideration the ability of each individual to understand the Four Noble Truths, that the Buddha presents his teaching, either by way of sammuti, or by way of paramattha, or by way of both. Whatever the method adopted the purpose is the same, to show the way to Immortality through the analysis of mental and physical phenomena.
AA. Vol. I, pp.54-55
This seems to sum up the idea of double truth, as it is used in the Theravada, quite well.

This can be illustrated by using two extreme examples from the suttas.

Dhp 157. If one [atta] holds oneself dear, one should diligently watch oneself. Let the wise man keep vigil during any of the three watches of the night.
158. One should first establish oneself in what is proper; then only should one instruct others. Thus the wise man will not be reproached.
160. One [atta] truly is the protector of oneself [attano]; who else could the protector be? With oneself fully controlled, one gains a mastery that is hard to gain.

"Monks, I will teach you the all. And what is the all? The eye and forms, the ear and sounds the nose and odors, the tongue and tastes, the body and touch, the mind and mental phenomena. This is called the all. If anyone, monks, should speak thus: ' Having rejected this all, I shall make known another all' - that would be a mere empty boast." SN IV 15.

"And which All is a phenomenon to be abandoned? The eye is to be abandoned. Forms are to be abandoned. Consciousness at the eye is to be abandoned. Contact at the eye is to be abandoned. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too is to be abandoned. SN IV 15

What the double truth notion is doing drawing out the implication in the suttas of two different ways of talking about practice. In other words, there are not a literal two and distinct truths; rather, there are two general ways of talking about the same path to practice that leads to the same liberation. Understanding such a distinction would help one not read into the conventional use of language implications that are not there, and help keep a balance in reading the “ultimate” use of language.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:18 am

Thanks Tilt!

Peripherally relevant is that taking different approaches to the question:
    "To what extent, my friend, is a monk's vision said to be well-purified?"
is the subject of SN 35.204 (245): Kimsuka Sutta:The Riddle Tree viewtopic.php?f=25&t=9586

Interestingly, in the fifth chapter of the Sutta Nipata http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/index.html#vagga-5, thought to be a very early work (it is referred to in 5 discourses in the AN and SN), the detailed lists of khandhas, sense bases, and elements found in the other Nikayas seem to be still under development. They seem to be implied but not so explicitly listed.

Snp 5.3 wrote:
"He who has comprehended in the world the here and the beyond, in whom there is no perturbation by anything in the world, who is calm, free from the smoldering fires,untroubled and desireless — he has crossed beyond birth and decay, I say."

Snp 5.8 wrote:Here, Hemaka, with regard to things that are dear — seen, heard, sensed, & cognized — there is: the dispelling of passion & desire, the undying state of Unbinding. Those knowing this, mindful, fully unbound in the here & now, are forever calmed, have crossed over beyond entanglement in the world.

Snp 5.15 wrote:"Look upon the world as empty, Mogharaja, ever mindful; uprooting the view of self you may thus be one who overcomes death. So regarding the world one is not seen by the King of Death."

:namaste:
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Re: Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby Ben » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:55 am

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
:namaste:
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby Goedert » Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:17 pm

Nargarjuna in Mulamadhyamakakarika, refers to it not sunnãta but the doctrine of paticcasamuppada.

I think they utilized paradox and even nonsense to demonstrate that true wisdom is intuitive and cannot be conveyed by concepts or in intellectual terms, in the sense of critic to the dualism.

(13:8): "The victorious ones have said that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. For whomever emptiness is a view, that one will accomplish nothing."

Ajahn Brahmavamso wrote:One of the major difficulties that Buddhists find with the teaching of Anatta is that if there is no soul or self, then what is this? What is it that thinks, wills, feels or knows? What is it that is reading this? In summary, what is life?

In one of the most profound of all suttas in the Buddhist scriptures, the Kaccnagotta Sutta (SN 12, 15), which was to play a major role in later Buddhist history, The Buddha stated that, for the most part, people's views on the nature of life fall into one of two extremes. Either they maintain that there is a soul, or they hold that there is nothing at all. Unfortunately, too many Buddhists confuse the teaching of Anatta and side with the view that there is nothing at all.

The Buddha condemned both extremes with a devastating argument based on experience. It is untenable to maintain that there is a soul because anything that can be meaningfully considered as a soul or self the body, will, love, consciousness or mind - can all be seen as impermanent. As The Buddha put it "One cannot say that there is (a soul), because a cessation (of all that can be a soul) is seen". On the other hand, it is untenable to maintain that there is nothing at all, because it is obvious that life is! As The Buddha put it "One cannot say that there is nothing, because an arising (of all phenomena) is seen". Thus, as the Buddhist philosopher-monk Nagarjuna (2nd century CE) was to remind everyone, The Buddha clearly denied the doctrine of absolute emptiness.
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Re: Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:44 pm

Goedert wrote:. . . .
[/quote]Sorry, but I do not see the relevance of what you posted in relationship to the OP. That simply may be my own thickness. In a different context, your msg would of appropriate, but do take a look at the guidelines for this section:


viewtopic.php?f=19&t=373#p3724
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Double Truth aka Two Truths

Postby Vepacitta » Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:47 pm

Great post Tilt as to the teaching conventions ...

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