Astus wrote:How does this match with the Buddha's teachings?
TRUTH: RELATIVE OR ABSOLUTE?
Beyond the realm of simple and verifiable facts, the certainty that “I
am right and you are wrong” is a dangerous thing in personal relationships as
well as in interactions between nations, tribes, religions, and so on.
But if the belief “I am right; you are wrong” is one of the ways in
which the ego strengthens itself, if making yourself right and others wrong is
a mental dysfunction that perpetuates separation and conflict between
human beings, does that mean there is no such thing as right or wrong
behavior, action, or belief? And wouldn't that be the moral relativism that
some contemporary Christian teachings see as the great evil of our times?
The history of Christianity is, of course, a prime example of how the
belief that you are in sole possession of the truth, that is to say, right , can
corrupt your actions and behavior to the point of insanity. For centuries,
torturing and burning people alive if their opinion diverged even in the
slightest from Church doctrine or narrow interpretations of scripture (the
“Truth”) was considered right because the victims were “wrong.” They were
so wrong that they needed to be killed. The Truth was considered more
important than human life. And what was the Truth? A story you had to
believe in; which means, a bundle of thoughts.
The one million people that mad dictator Pol Pot of Cambodia ordered
killed included everybody who wore glasses. Why? To him, the Marxist
interpretation of history was the absolute truth, and according to his version
of it, those who wore glasses belonged to the educated glass, the bourgeoisie,
the exploiters of the peasants. They needed to be eliminated to make room
for a new social order. His truth also was a bundle of thoughts.
The Catholic and other churches are actually correct when they
identify relativism, the belief that there is no absolute truth to guide human
behavior, as one of the evils of our times; but you won't find absolute truth if
you look for it where it cannot be found: in doctrines, ideologies, sets of
rules, or stories. What do all of these have in common? They are made up of
thought. Thought can at best point to the truth, but it never is the truth. That's
why Buddhists say “The finger pointing to the moon is not the moon.” All
religions are equally false and equally true, depending on how you use them.
You can use them in the service of the ego, or you can use them in the
service of the Truth. If you believe only your religion is the Truth, you are
using it in the service of the ego. used in such a way, religion becomes
ideology and creates an illusory sense of superiority as well as division and
conflict between people. In the service of the Truth, religious teachings
represent signposts or maps left behind by awakened humans to assist you in
spiritual awakening, that is to say, in becoming free of identification with
There is only one absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it.
When you find that Truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human
action can reflect the Truth, or it can reflect illusion. Can the Truth be put
into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. They only point to it.
The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the truth. If
you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being
that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said, “I am the way
and the truth and the life.”2 These words uttered by Jesus are one of the most
powerful and direct pointers to the Truth, if understood correctly. If
misinterpreted, however, they become a great obstacle. Jesus speaks of the
innermost I Am, the essence identity of every man and woman, every lifeform,
in fact. He speaks of the life that you are. Some Christian mystics have
called it the Christ within; Buddhists call it your Buddha nature; for Hindus,
it is Atman, the indwelling God. When you are in touch with that dimension
within yourself – and being in touch with it is your natural state, not some
miraculous achievement – all your actions and relationships will reflect the
oneness with all life that you sense deep within. This is love. Laws,
commandments, rules, and regulations are necessary for those who are cut
off from who they are, the Truth within. They prevent the worst excesses of
the ego, and often they don't even do that. “Love and do what you will,” said
St. Augustine. Words cannot get much closer to the Truth than that.
Hi Astus, I'm hoping that this clip from his book will answer your questions.