Dedication to truth

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Dedication to truth

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:38 am

By and large, Buddhism is embedded into a paradigm of suffering and how to end suffering, whether it be for oneself or for all sentient beings. That's the driving purpose and motivation for practise

In many other transcendental traditions though, they take unwavering dedication to truth as the driving force on the spiritual path and relegate all other concerns as necessarily secondary to this aim. This seems a bit different from Buddhism which, although it does understand itself as a path that arrives at the true nature of all things, sees realising the true nature of all things as more of a necessary part of ending suffering than an aim in itself.

I don't particularly recall many Buddhists texts talking about taking a dedication to truth as the driving motivation, so I find myself wondering how such a thing would fit into a classical Buddhist model. Has anyone here come across this in texts?
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby mindyourmind » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:25 am

I suppose the first, obvious caveat would be to ask what the "truth" really is.

I have always accepted (and experienced) Buddhism as a religion / philosophy that was ancored in the truth, that sought it, that found it. It tends to leave certain truths, such as scientific ones, to those who are seized with finding that, other than some traditions that seek to fit the truth into its own boxes - maybe a good thing in Buddhism.

Your question is an interesting one, but I keep on coming back to my own experience, my own understanding of Buddhism as very much The Truth.

I'll think about this some more, but that's pretty much what I have for now.

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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Indrajala » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:36 am

Good question.

I agree with your assessment that in Buddhist texts the primary goal is soteriological and attainment of the truth is generally regarded as secondary or even as an epiphenomenon of liberation.

Taking as an example the following line from the text I'm reading right now:


《梵網經菩薩戒本疏》卷1:「又前離業障令福圓。後除滅惑障成慧滿。此則離二障成二嚴方為究竟故以為宗。」(CBETA, T40, no. 1813, p. 604, a28-b1)


"Again, first one removes karmic hindrances and perfects one's merit, and then one removes afflictive hindrances accomplishing the fulfilment of wisdom. Here then is detaching from the two hindrances and attaining the two adornments which is then the ultimate and is thus considered [part of] the model. "


Fazang states he is borrowing this from the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra.

In this example attainment of wisdom, which I suppose is akin to attainment of the truth, is considered as part of the process, but not the end goal in itself. It is a necessary prerequisite for the ultimate goal of Buddhahood, but only one part. Attainment of the truth comes before the final goal of Buddhahood, therefore it cannot be considered the ultimate aim.

Even in the Śrāvakayāna model you'll note that prajñā / paññā is a prerequisite to liberation from the wheel of cyclic existence, but it is just that: a prerequisite and not the end goal in itself.
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby noclue » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:34 pm

In pali texts the encouragement ehi passico (come and see) as well as the words of Kalama Sutta come to mind, but I am sure there are more pertinent texts. Of course there are the Noble Truths as well as the Buddha encouragement of skeptical inquiring mind, such as the approval of Sariputta(?) in one of the suttas where the Buddha asks him is he believes after an explanation, and the disciple answers "Not yet."

In a lot of cases I think it was taken as a given. Without a fundamental commitment to truth, what spiritual search can there be?
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Yogicfire » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:13 pm

I am not quite sure what you would actually mean by transcendental traditions. Mainstream religions such as Christianity and Islam would not be focused on truth as much as salvation. Same with their offshoots, although perhaps Gnosticism would have a stronger emphasis on gnosis, which might be comparable to 'truth'.

In the Indian traditions, jnana yoga is just one path, and I don't see an overemphasis on truth myself. Maybe some examples or further explanation on what you are actually comparing Buddhism to....?
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby plwk » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:43 pm

As Pontius Pilate had reportedly asked Jesus, 'What is truth?'
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:24 pm

Yogicfire wrote:I am not quite sure what you would actually mean by transcendental traditions.


Traditions that emphasise realisation of or awakening to some sort of trans-sensory- and/or -trans-intellectual element. In Buddhism, Nirvana. In mystical christianity, the notion of god, or the kingdom of heaven, as something that is realisable in the present life. In Hinduism, Brahman, and so forth.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Will » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:38 pm

Dharma is often defined as Truth and we do take refuge in (or are dedicated to) that. Also Nirvana is thus defined.

MN 70 says (Bhikkhu Bodhi tr.) "he realises with the body the ultimate truth and sees it by penetrating it with wisdom." Note 708 says "ultimate truth" = Nibbana.

Also, from ch. 9 of the Avatamsaka Sutra (Cleary)

If, regarding the Buddha and truth,
One understands that they are equal,
Having no thought of duality,
One will walk on the inconceivable plane.


If you mean motivation to tread the path, I suppose the Pratekyabuddha has pretty pure seek-the-Truth motive.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby muni » Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:11 pm

When we enter the path, no idea how not to dedicate with confidence for the sake of all to truth (its included in the price), which then reveals itself spontaneously, naturally in which no doubts dwell. So is me explained.
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Yogicfire » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:47 am

Anders Honore wrote:
Yogicfire wrote:I am not quite sure what you would actually mean by transcendental traditions.


Traditions that emphasise realisation of or awakening to some sort of trans-sensory- and/or -trans-intellectual element. In Buddhism, Nirvana. In mystical christianity, the notion of god, or the kingdom of heaven, as something that is realisable in the present life. In Hinduism, Brahman, and so forth.


I think you are on firmer ground if you analyse the meaning of truth in Buddhism without trying to compare that with other religious traditions. If you do want to make comparisons, you need a good knowledge of the other traditions, and perhaps a narrower focus, such as 'Indian transcendental traditions' or something like that (although I still have misgivings about what you are actually talking about!).

Terms like mystical Christianity, Hinduism, and Brahman don't mean a lot unless placed in the correct context. And, they become even harder to understand if you are trying to make general comparisons between them.

Almost all Christian traditions consider salvation to be something realisable in the afterlife, and not in the here and now. There are a few evangelical traditions that talk about the coming Messiah, and the kingdom of heaven on earth, but they are generally in the minority.

You should perhaps define clearly what you mean by truth, and give clear examples from other traditions, and how you see a connection, in order to make your point.

It also seems problematic to me that you are trying to compare a world religion such as Buddhism, to a small selection of rather obscure sub-traditions within Christianity and Hinduism.
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby muni » Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:32 pm

These words, Yogicfire, bring a reflection about truth of our being, how we percieve it here right now.
Whether we are abiding in contamination by obscurations arisen out of a solid entity among other solid existences or by deeper investigations we see the complex interactivity of our being in a whole.

The discrimination-truths (slave-boss, casts, gender, skin color, and so on...) aren't possible when we percieve all as for example the diety, or we see clear in own delusions in discriminating and categorizing in our environment.

I heard about Jesus who loved everyone. So these followers have an example. I see him as a Bodhisattva.
Muslim people say "our religion is love"...
God is expressed as purity, goodness; so fine.

What we "do" with religion -truth is the most important, I think.
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Anders » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:50 pm

Yogicfire wrote:I think you are on firmer ground if you analyse the meaning of truth in Buddhism without trying to compare that with other religious traditions. If you do want to make comparisons, you need a good knowledge of the other traditions, and perhaps a narrower focus, such as 'Indian transcendental traditions' or something like that (although I still have misgivings about what you are actually talking about!).


I am not looking to make comparisons. I simply used it as a starting point to inquire about this in Buddhist texts.

Almost all Christian traditions consider salvation to be something realisable in the afterlife, and not in the here and now. There are a few evangelical traditions that talk about the coming Messiah, and the kingdom of heaven on earth, but they are generally in the minority.


I am quite aware. It's not really relevant to my inquiry though. I am asking about Buddhism.

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You should perhaps define clearly what you mean by truth, and give clear examples from other traditions, and how you see a connection, in order to make your point.


This is a quote from a vedanta teacher:

Awakening opens a door inside to a deep inner revolution, but in no way guarantees that it will take place. Whether it takes place or not depends on many factors, but none more important and vital than an earnest and unambiguous intention for truth above and beyond all else. This earnest intention toward truth is what all spiritual growth ultimately depends upon, especially when it transcends all personal preferences, agendas, and goals.


Similar in some areas to Buddhism (in the sense of stressing going beyond personal preference, agendas and such), but at a glance also quite different. You would expect a Buddhist teacher to take aspiring to the total cessation of suffering, or the attainment of Buddhahood for the sake of all living beings, as the most important and vital factor on the path.

Which made me curious as to how such an intention as described above (or perhaps more poignant - the vitality of such an intention as priori to other intentions) fits into a Buddhist paradigm. I already have a fairly good idea about this, but I am hoping to see some different and surprising perspectives on this.

It also seems problematic to me that you are trying to compare a world religion such as Buddhism, to a small selection of rather obscure sub-traditions within Christianity and Hinduism.


I'm not.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Yogicfire » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:58 pm

Vedanta and Buddhism do have a lot of parallels. And yes, the quest for truth in vedanta, and the overall theoretical approach, can make for some interesting comparisons.

Makes sense now.
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby Astus » Wed Jun 30, 2010 5:33 pm

It is a wonder that no one has mentioned prajnaparamita yet. Also truth could be understood as satya, thus we have catvari arya satyani (4NT) and satyadvaya (two truths). But I'd say, unlike in the European tradition, Buddhism works with the personal, rather than the objective aspect, so wisdom instead of truth. ("And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.", "I am the way, the truth, and the life")

The Buddhist concept of truth is not an objective, independent thing or knowledge but something to be realised and has relevance only as far as its realisation happens. On the other hand, the truth in the European view is something outside of us, therefore knowable by all and doesn't require any inner achievement. Or, from a Christian perspective, truth is by grace and something people has to believe in.

Another perspective is truth as correct view. It is the beginning of the path in Buddhism to obtain a correct understanding of the teaching and then eventually realise it. In the European tradition truth is something one attains in the end and completes one's journey (holy grail, scientific truth). Also note that Socrates was a philosopher and not a sage.

A similar phenomenon in Buddhism like the European understanding of truth is the teaching of buddha-nature. Because the full knowledge of buddha-nature is buddhahood, also everyone has it and can realise it. But again, buddha-nature is a personal thing and not an independent one.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
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"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
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“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Dedication to truth

Postby zengammon » Sat Jul 03, 2010 11:39 am

Anders Honore wrote:. This seems a bit different from Buddhism which, although it does understand itself as a path that arrives at the true nature of all things, sees realising the true nature of all things as more of a necessary part of ending suffering than an aim in itself.

..., so I find myself wondering how such a thing would fit into a classical Buddhist model. Has anyone here come across this in texts?


Hi Anders,

I don't have an answer to your question. My personal view, which I of course hope is based on text and the path, is that Suffering is the absence of Insight. So, I think of Suffering as the state of mind without insight, and the mind free of suffering as the state of mind with insight. It seems to me, to paraphrase, that Buddhism teaches 'only the lack of insight and the development of insight.' (realization)

best wishes,
John
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