Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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tiltbillings
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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:14 pm

Alex123 wrote:Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:Just out of curiosity, you two-truth pooh-pooh-ers (Alex123, Daverupa, retro)) what do you see is wrong with the two-truth notion? Gives us a bit more than simple pooh-poohing.
If it was very important, then the Buddha would frequently and clearly teach about it and there would be no doubt if He taught it.
So, if it is not clearly spelled out in the suttas, then drawing out any implication found in the suttas is an inappropriate thing to do, so it would seem. It that what you are saying.

But what I would like to know for you dismissal guys is what you think the two truth doctrine is actually saying, and then why it is wrong, as your dismissals seem to suggest.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:16 pm

Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:Just out of curiosity, you two-truth pooh-pooh-ers (Alex123, Daverupa, retro)) what do you see is wrong with the two-truth notion? Gives us a bit more than simple pooh-poohing.
I won't be engaging with such an immature question, thank you.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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daverupa
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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by daverupa » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:22 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I asked you first, and as matter of curtesy, your answering the question would be the way to go, and in turn then asking me question.
AN 4.42 wrote:"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions."
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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tiltbillings
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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:26 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:Just out of curiosity, you two-truth pooh-pooh-ers (Alex123, Daverupa, retro)) what do you see is wrong with the two-truth notion? Gives us a bit more than simple pooh-poohing.
I won't be engaging with such an immature question, thank you.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you do not like the legitimate word pooh-pooh, the substitute the word dismiss.

You stated:
Yes - have heard the distinction between these two modes being regarded by some as "conventional language" and "Dhamma language".

One does not negate the other of course, but only one communicates the unique, deep and original Dhammic insights that the Buddha brought to the table.

That's a slightly different spectrum though to the distinction between sutta language and paramattha dhammas.
Are we to read this as a dismissal? It seems to be, but it is unclear what you actually think two truth notion is saying and why it is wrong, as seems to be implied in this not very clear msg.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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tiltbillings
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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by tiltbillings » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:31 pm

daverupa wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:I asked you first, and as matter of curtesy, your answering the question would be the way to go, and in turn then asking me question.
AN 4.42 wrote:"There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions."
Okay, then let mne simply say that I'll be happy to address your question when I understand what your objection is to the tweo truth notion. That is what I want to address. It may be that your objection is quite valid. I do not think that one must accept the two truths notion, but I a curious about the dismissal of it beyond what very little that has been said here by those are dismissing it.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:38 pm

daverupa wrote: As for me, the question goes the other way, tilt - of what use is such an idea? What, from the SuttaVinaya, is made clearer?
As I said above: http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f= ... 84#p155954" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; I think the contrast between "slicing up experience into bits" and "talking about beings" is rather obvious in the Suttas.

So, I can't really agree with this statement:
retrofuturist wrote: That's a slightly different spectrum though to the distinction between sutta language and paramattha dhammas.
since I see paramattha dhamma as simply an extension of the khandha/sense bases/elements/etc slicing of phenomenological experience. Just a more thorough classification of phenomenology (which may or may not be particularly necessary, but that's a different issue).

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:16 pm

Greetings Mike,

Keep in mind that I was

1. responding with reference to the OP's question,
2. in the context of the Early Buddhism sub-forum,
3. in a topic entitled "Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?"

Accordingly I'm not in this sub-forum to talk about the merits or usefulness (or otherwise) of that which clearly isn't "early" and what the Buddha didn't teach. That would be...

:offtopic:

... so the different issues will be left to the side.

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:27 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote: Accordingly I'm not in this sub-forum to talk about the merits or usefulness (or otherwise) of that which clearly isn't "early" and what the Buddha didn't teach.
I beg to differ:
  • 1. I've explained how I see the "two truth" thing plays out very obviously (to me) in the suttas, so I don't agree with your assertion that "The Buddha didn't teach it."
    2. "Early Buddhism" is (to me) about the various early schools. So the various Abhidhammas/Abhidharmas and commentaries are relevant.
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:35 am

Greetings Mike,

FYI, "What the Buddha didn't teach" was with specific reference to "paramattha dhamma", not 'two truths theory".
mikenz66 wrote:I see paramattha dhamma as simply an extension of the khandha/sense bases/elements/etc slicing of phenomenological experience.
Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:45 am

Hi Retro,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Mike,

FYI, "What the Buddha didn't teach" was with specific reference to "paramattha dhamma", not 'two truths theory".
mikenz66 wrote:I see paramattha dhamma as simply an extension of the khandha/sense bases/elements/etc slicing of phenomenological experience.
Metta,
Retro. :)
OK, I agree that the Buddha didn't use the actual words "paramattha dhamma".

However, I see the paramattha/two truths ideas in the suttas, as I have explained.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by Gena1480 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:57 am

huge thanks for all forum members
best damma friends
:group:

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by cooran » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:37 am

Hello all,

A little information for consideration:

Digha Nikaya trans. By Maurice Walshe
On p.31 in his Introduction, Walshe states:

EXCERPT:
"An important and often overlooked aspect of the Buddhist teaching concerns the levels of truth, failure to appreciate which has led to many errors (see n.220).
Very often the Buddha talks in the Suttas in terms of conventional or relative truth (sammuti- or vohaara-sacca), according to which people and things exist just as they appear to the naive understanding.
Elsewhere, however, when addressing an audience capable of appreciating his meaning, he speaks in terms of ultimate truth (paramattha-sacca), according to which 'existence is a mere process of physical and mental phenomena within which, or beyond which, no real ego-entity nor any abiding substance can ever be found' (Buddhist Dictionary under Paramattha).

In the Abhidhamma, the entire exposition is in terms of ultimate truth. It may also be observed that many 'Zen paradoxes' and the like realyl owe their puzzling character to their being put in terms of ultimate, not of relative truth.

The full understanding of ultimate truth can, of course, only be gained by profound insight, but it is possible to become increasingly aware of the distinction.
There would seem in fact to be a close parallel in modern times in the difference between our naive world-view and that of the physicist, both points of view having their use in their own sphere. Thus, conventionally speaking, or according to the naive world-view, there are solid objects such as tables and chairs, whereas according to physics the alleged solidity is seen to be an illusion, and whatever might turn out to be the ultimate nature of matter, it is certainly something very different from that which presents itself to our senses. However, when the physicist is off duty, he or she makes use of solid tables and chairs just like everyone else.

In the same way, all such expressions as 'I', 'self' and so on are always in accordance with conventional truth, and the Buddha never hesitated to use the word attaa 'self' (and also with plural meaning: 'yourselves', etc.) in its conventional and convenient sense. In fact, despite all that has been urged to the contrary, there is not the slightest evidence that he ever used it in any other sense except when critically quoting the views of others, as should clearly emerge from several of the Suttas here translated.

In point of fact, it should be stressed that conventional truth is sometimes extremely important. The whole doctrine of karma and rebirth has its validity only in the realm of conventional truth. That is why, by liberating ourselves from the view point of conventional truth we cease to be subject to karmic law. Objections to the idea of rebirth in Buddhism, too, are sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the nature of the two truths. As long as we are unenlightened 'worldlings', our minds habitually operate in terms of 'me' and 'mine', even if in theory we know better. It is not until this tendency has been completely eradicated that full enlilghtenment can dawn.

At Samyutta Nikaaya 22.89 the Venerable Khemaka who is a Non-Returner, explains how 'the subtle remnant of the 'I'-conceit, or the 'I'-desire, an unextirpated lurking tendency to think: 'I am', still persists even at that advanced stage."

DN9
"these are merely names, expressions, turns of speech, designations
in common use in the world, which the Tathagata uses without
misapprehending them.

A important reference to the two truths referred to in DA as ‘conventional speech’ (samuti-katha) and ‘ultimately true speech’ (paramattha-katha). See Introduction, p.31f. It is important to be aware of the level of truth at which any statements are made. In MA (ad MN5: Anangana Sutta), the following verse is quoted (source unknown): Two truths the Buddha, best of all who speak, Declared:
Conventional and ultimate – no third can be,
Terms agreed are true by usage of the world;
Words of ultimate significance are true
In terms of dhammas. Thus the Lord, a Teacher,
He
Who’s skilled in this world’s speech, can use
It, and not lie.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by daverupa » Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:13 pm

I linked DN 9 earlier since Karunadasa did so, which seems to be Walshe's point. That brings us to three Suttas, all of which were occasions for explaining two truths, but none of which actually seem to clearly do so.

The problem here, as I see it, is that whether or not this is something that logically, soundly, and without error can be extrapolated from the SuttaVinaya, it isn't already extant there. I anticipate an objection at this point:
tiltbillings wrote:So, if it is not clearly spelled out in the suttas, then drawing out any implication found in the suttas is an inappropriate thing to do, so it would seem.
This is obviously not correct. Indeed, if it is not clearly spelled out in the Suttas, drawing implication may in fact be wholly necessary. A Buddhist stance on abortion is one such example - there are innumerable others. The point here has nothing to do with extrapolating from the Dhamma - the point is that in the context of the two truths idea, I do not see a reason to begin the extrapolation.

With abortion, the ensuing discussion would strive to grapple with a challenging and complex ethical scenario while consistently cleaving to the Dhamma.

Here is why I asked the question I did earlier, but it can be rephrased to mirror the above statement, underlining thereby the issue at hand:

"With 'two truths', the ensuing discussion would strive to grapple with _________________ while consistently cleaving to the Dhamma."

The point tilt's objection highlights is whether or not the idea consistently cleaves to the Dhamma. To my way of thinking, however, there is as yet no clear indication why we should bother.

What goes in the blank?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by tiltbillings » Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:01 pm

daverupa wrote:What goes in the blank?
Be happy to give my opinion, but first tell us how you understand the two truth notion, so that we can see that we are on the same page, talking about the same thing.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Two truths theory. Did Buddha teach it?

Post by daverupa » Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:21 pm

tiltbillings wrote:I'll be happy to answer the question, but I asked you first...
tiltbillings wrote:Okay, then let mne simply say that I'll be happy to address your question when I understand what your objection is...
tiltbillings wrote:Be happy to give my opinion, but first...
:thinking:
tiltbillings wrote:You were asked as simple question, and I got dodge in response.
:shrug:

"With 'two truths', the ensuing discussion would strive to grapple with _________________ while consistently cleaving to the Dhamma."

What goes in the blank, tilt? Your thoughts on this matter would be greatly edifying.
Last edited by daverupa on Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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