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THE TWO TRUTHS IN BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY
  KHENPO MIGMAR TSERING IN CANBERRA


Today, we will deal with the significance of t...
nature), of that phenomenon. This does not mean that, in
fact, there are two natures, two substances, which exist
independ...
aligned to either the extreme of existence, (eternalism), or to
the extreme of non-existence, (nihilism).

For example, wh...
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2 truths

  1. 1. THE TWO TRUTHS IN BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY KHENPO MIGMAR TSERING IN CANBERRA Today, we will deal with the significance of the two truths in Buddhist philosophy. This is connected with all the teachings of the Buddha which can be divided into two categories, that of the relative truth and that of the ultimate truth. For example, with respect to the Four Noble Truths, the first two and the last one together are considered as the relative truth, ( that is, the truth of suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering and the truth of the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.) Whereas, the third truth, the truth of the cessation of suffering is considered the ultimate truth. So before one is able to come to the realisation of ultimate truth, it is necessary to go through the different levels of relative truth, as well as the practices concerned with this. From the point of view of the Madhyamika school of thought, the nature of the two truths is established right from the beginning. The two truths serve as the condition for what we formulate and contemplate in the beginning of our practice. This means that before we are able to incorporate the understanding of the two truths into our practice, we have to engage in the study of what is actually meant by relative and ultimate truth. In terms of how phenomena appear to the general mind, they exists in two ways. This refers to firstly, the mind which is not of a realised nature, has not reached the level of transcendental knowledge, which is considered as the relative truth and then secondly, the mind when it reaches the level of transcendental knowledge, which is considered as the ultimate truth. So there is, in every phenomenon, (i) the ultimate nature and (ii) the appearance, (or the relative 1
  2. 2. nature), of that phenomenon. This does not mean that, in fact, there are two natures, two substances, which exist independently, as their own objects, but because a particular thing appears in two ways to two different types of mind, then the levels of ultimate and relative truth are established. So, in the course of one's practice, there will be direct contact and study, as well as the putting into practice of the relative nature of things and then, the realisation of the ultimate nature of that particular thing. According to the Madhyamika philosophy, every point of study is understood or explained on the basis of what is called the ' Middle Way ', (Madhyamika). This is always understood and explained as the middle stance, not falling into any of the extremes. When it comes to the explanation of the two truths, then the explanation of the two truths is also based on this idea of a middle way. This means that the establishment of relative truth, the establishment of the ultimate truth and the unity, or combination of these two truths are all based on this middle way. The explanation of relative truth through other modes of thought may not be what is called the middle way. For example, other philosophical schools of thought, including some other Buddhist schools of thought, postulate that in the relative truth there exists an inherent nature of external phenomena or, some say the mind has an inherent nature, (the mind exists inherently and external phenomena do not.) According to the Madhyamika viewpoint, whether both the mind and phenomena or just the mind alone is considered as inherently existing, then as long as something is accepted as possessing an inherent nature,one cannot have the understanding of the middle way as far as relative truth is concerned, because this idea of the relative truth will be 2
  3. 3. aligned to either the extreme of existence, (eternalism), or to the extreme of non-existence, (nihilism). For example, when one accepts a phenomenon, say a table, as truly existent and if this true existence of the table is considered as the relative truth, then because it is believed to exist as a truly existent entity, this cannot be sustained from the point of view of observed reality. There will be no room for change, either long term or momentary changes in the table. This idea of considering the table as truly existent is known as the view of the extreme of existence, that is, the extreme of eternalism, because something which exists inherently is not subject to any kind of change. The idea of inherent existence is that it always remains so. That it will always be the nature of that particular thing, so since there will not be any change, since it cannot be explained as depending on anything, then one will have an idea of that thing as having a permanent nature. So as a result of this, this particular idea of relative truth will become the extreme of eternalism. This is considered a false view with regard to the explanation of relative truth. Let us consider the situation where a particular phenomena is accepted as inherently existent initially and then, that it will cease at a later point in time, from the viewpoint of the Madhyamika. Now, as the two truths are based on different levels of mind , first let us consider what is experienced from the point of view of the ordinary, worldly mind. As one is still in the beginning of the process, or the beginning of the practice, then whatever appears to this worldly mind is to be established and accepted as the relative truth. 3
  4. 4. In the case of the relationship between a cause and a result, then the result is said to arise by depending on its cause. However, it is not that the cause has completely come to an end or inherently ceased after the arising of this phenomena . This establishes that there is no notion of the non-existence of the cause. This means that when a result arises, we do not say that the cause has completely become extinct and that there is nothing left of the cause in the result. So,the cause is not accepted as being either non-existent or existent at the time of the result. In the next moment, since it is subject to momentary changes, the cause does not remain exactly the same at the time of the result. As it does not remain the same, then the idea of a cause is not aligned to the extreme of existence, (eternalism), or the extreme of non-existence, (nihilism). On the basis of this one particular phenomenum, one is then able to explain it from the point of the middle way, without being aligned to any of these two extremes. Now this is with regard to the relationship of two things, cause and result. If one was to explain this line of reasoning on the basis of one entity, or one substance, then stating that a substance does not arise without depending on its cause and condition is the view which is not aligned to the extreme of existence, (eternalism). Whereas stating that it has arisen as a result of dependence, in such a manner as it will change, it will not remain the same in the next moment, is looking at the thing from the 4
  5. 5. view of not aligning to the extreme of non-existence, (nihilism). The idea that a thing arises as a result of cause and conditions is not having the view of the extreme of nihilism. That it is subject to change is the view which is not aligned to the extreme of eternalism. So every single phenomenum, as well as every collection of phenomena in the relative truth is explained or understood on the basis of this middle way. All the various aspects of the relative truth are also to be understood from the point of view of the middle way. Similarly, when it comes to ultimate truth then, since ultimate truth is established as a state of being free from all the four extremes, then one has to again rely on this line of reasoning. For example, when it comes to explaining the ultimate nature of a table, then the view of looking at , or 'grasping ' the table as something existent, non-existent, both or neither, are all considered as false notions because the ultimate nature of the table does not remain in any form of existence or non-existence. As the ultimate nature of the table is free from existence, then the view of ultimate truth is free from the extreme of eternalism. As it is also not non-existent, then the view of ultimate truth is free from the idea of the extreme of nihilism. So the explanation of the ultimate truth is also based on the middle way, in which both extremes are avoided. Then, when it comes to the explanation of the combination of the two truths in terms of the the middle way, then because there are phenomena in the relative truth and these are accepted on a relative level, 5
  6. 6. the viewpoint of the Madhyamika with respect to things is not aligned to the extreme of nihilism. Even though we talk about all phenomena not existing in any way, which means they have the ultimate nature of emptiness, this establishing everything as empty of inherent existence does not mean that from the beginning when one is within the worldly mind, in the process of practice, that one has to completely negate everything which appears, because there is this relative truth which is to be used, which one has to take into account in order to understand and realise the ultimate truth, to gain the complete realisation which is a result of understanding both truths. Since relative truth cannot be avoided or negated just because something possesses this ultimate nature, then phenomena do exist in the relative truth within the parameters of dependent arising. Either a phenomenum is established as something originated by depending on a cause, or it is imputed as depending on other conditions. When we establish what is called a compounded thing, such as a table or a rice sprout, then these are established as existent in relative truth because they have originated by depending on causes. The idea of the existence of a particular thing, a rice sprout in this case, is based on dependence, but a dependence originated from cause and conditions. Whereas, when we establish what is called an uncompounded thing, such as space, this may not neccesarily be established as originating from cause and conditions, but is established on the basis of having been imputed by depending on other conditions. 6
  7. 7. Not every phenomenon in relative truth is considered as an originated phenomena, as a compounded thing which is a product and has an impermanent nature. There are also phenomena which we have to explain on the basis of permanence, which are what are called uncompounded things. These cannot be explained on the basis of dependent origination, of having originated by depending on causes and conditions, but are established as existent in the relative truth because they are imputed as existent by depending on other factors. For example, the uncompounded phenomenon of space is considered as existent in the relative truth as the mind has imputed something, which is a state of the negation of form. This has been imputed as space. Although space does not originate from any cause and condition, its existence is based on the dependence on other conditions because the mind has imputed it as being so. So generally, since all phenomena in relative truth can be established on this basis, that is, things do exist in the relative truth, then the nature of phenomena is not aligned to the extreme of nihilism. Now with regards to the ultimate truth, when we analyse these same phenomena which exist in the relative truth, they cannot be established as truly existent since the ultimate nature of these very phenomena is to be understood as a state free from all conceptual elaborations, free from all extremes. This understanding is on the basis of the view which is free from the extreme of eternalism. Since one accepts all things as they appear in the relative truth, one's understanding of things, or one’s viewpoint is not aligned to the extreme of nihilism. Since one does not 7
  8. 8. accept anything as inherently existent, which means one views all things as being interdependent, one's understanding or viewpoint is not aligned to the extreme of eternalism,(or existence). So when one is engaged in the study of the two truths, then the very foundation of this is to be understood on the basis of the viewpoint of this middle way. When the actual nature of the relative truth is explained, then it can be understood on two levels. Whatever appears to the worldly mind is considered as a relative truth, but even to this worldly mind there are things which appear as true and things which appear as false. So we divide the relative truth into the perfect relative truth and false relative truth. For example, the phenomena which are 'grasped ' or which become objects of unmistaken consciousness, like a visual form which is seen by unmistaken eye consciousness, is considered as a perfect relative truth. It is a phenomenon which exists as it appears to the worldly mind. However, if the phenomena that is 'grasped ' is a visual form which is seen by a mistaken eye consciousness, it is classified as false relative truth. For example, if the eye sees something which is actually white but is seen as yellow because of the eye function being defective due to an illness, then that visual form is also in the relative truth, it also appears, but because it is not considered as true in the general worldly mind, it is considered as false relative truth. These false appearances to the faulty or defective consciousness is also relative truth, but it is not considered as perfect relative truth. 8
  9. 9. In the false relative truth we also include all those false notions which are created by different philosophical ideas, as there are many different ideas with respect to particular things. For example, let us take the example of a table, according to the Vaibashika school, what appears as a table is an actual table which is an external thing, having nothing to do with the mind, which exists in its own way as it appears. However, according to the Sautantrika school of logic, that table appears as external, but it is not the actual external table, it is only the appearance of another external thing, which causes the generation of the eye consciousness, which in turn will then have an image of that thing. In other words what is now seen by the eye as a table is only the image of the mind which is created by the actual external table. So the table is not considered as a completely external thing. It is a part of the mind which appears in an external way. Now according to the Yogacarya school, as far as it is viewed as part of the mind, it is the same as the Sautantrika school, the difference being that the Sautantrika school acccepts another external thing besides what appears now. What appears is a simultaneous thing with the eye consciousness, but the actual external object is the one which existed one moment before, which functions as a cause, as a result of which the eye consciousness is produced. Then this eye consciousness comes into direct contact with the present appearance but not the actual external thing. So the difference is that they believe in the existence of an external thing, though it is not what appears now to the eye consciousnesss The Yogacarya school does not accept any external thing, in any form what so ever. So what appears now is the image 9
  10. 10. of the mind and there is nothing external other than that. So their notion of the table is that it is completely an image or projection of the mind. According to the Madhyamika school of thought, there is a stage where we establish things as images of the mind, but in the ultimate analysis, this is not the final explanation, it is also refuted and then one proceeds further. But in the relative case, what is accepted by Madhyamika is that this table is an external thing because it appears so to the worldly mind and it is an external thing which arises as a result of its causes and conditions. So it is accepted or understood as a dependent arising, as an external thing. So these different understandings with respect to the identification of a table in the relative truth, are there. In the same way, there are many other ideologies which have different notions with respect to what a table really is. Since all these ideologies are not in agreement with the actual way the thing manifests, with the actual nature of the thing, then these are considered false, as the false relative truth.The understanding of the table as an image of the mind, but accepting that there is another table which is actually external and which does not appear to the eye consciousness, is a false notion according to Madhyamika. So this false idea is also a relative form, it also is a phenomenon in the relative truth. We have two types of false relative truth: apparent false relative truth, which are the false appearances with respect to the five sense consciousnesses, and then the imputed false relative truth, which is the false object or false ideas imputed by the mind consciousness, by the conceptual thought of the mind consciousness. This is how relative truth is understood according to the Madhyamika school. 10
  11. 11. When it comes to the ultimate state, as far as studying or learning of the ultimate truth is concerned, in fact the actual definition of the ultimate truth is the state of being free from all types of extremes or conceptual elaborations. There can be two versions of this kind of ultimate truth, one which is a mental image, which is formed in the conceptual mind of a lower practitioner, of an ordinary person and then the actual ultimate truth, which becomes an object of transcendental, ultimate and final knowledge. The first level of this is called the ultimate truth of expression, or the expressible ultimate truth. When it comes to explaining the ultimate truth to another person, then that which is explained by the teacher to their student is not the final ultimate truth which is understood directly by transcendental knowledge, as, in the case of learning from another person, it is explained through conceptual mind, so it cannot be the ultimate truth of the object of transcendental knowledge. So it is not the actual ultimate truth which is understood directly by the transcendental knowledge, which is called the ultimate truth of realisation. When it comes to the ultimate truth of realisation, then that particular ultimate truth cannot be taught in a direct way because the understanding cannot be transferred to the mind of another person. There is no way in which one can show it to someone in an ordinary way, because ultimate truth is the state free from all conceptual elaborations. When, in an ordinary way it is explained to one, then there is a mental image or form of this ultimate truth. For example, when we examine a particular phenomena and come to the conclusion that it is free from existence, from non- existence, from both and from neither, then we know that it 11
  12. 12. is a state of being free from all the four extremes. The object of this understanding is also considered an ultimate truth, but it is not the actual ultimate truth, but only a form of ultimate truth which is used when it is expressed to another person. So it is an object of expression and of thought, so it is called the object of nomination, which means the expression through words and then grasping through the conceptual mind. In the beginning one cannot have a direct contact with this actual ultimate truth of realisation, one can only approach it through the ultimate truth of expression. So it is on this basis that the different philosophical reasonings are mentioned in the texts to help to establish the ultimate truth of phenomena and one pursues this understanding of the ultimate truth through the conceptual mind, by depending on these different reasonings. One’s understanding of the ultimate truth in this conceptual way will become better and better and finally there will be a direct realisation of the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth of expression, which is the basis on which an explanation of ultimate truth is given is necessary as a foundation and with regards to one who is on the path of practice, it is called the middle way of foundation. This explanation is in terms of dividing the practices into three sections of 1)ground or foundation,2) path and 3) result or fruition, also sometimes described as 1) view , 2) meditation and 3) action. The actual understanding of the two truths as free from two extremes of eternalism and nihilism, is the understanding of the middle way of foundation. When one has established this middle way of foundation, then the next step, which is again linked with the two truths, is the actual practice, which is 12
  13. 13. also explained on the basis of middle way, and is called the middle way of the path or the middle path. This is the understanding of the two truths in terms of the various practices of method. In other words, the two practices of wisdom,(prajna) and method, (upaya) are considered as the middle path or the middle way with respect to path. The practice of the development of wisdom includes the practice of meditation,divided into single-pointedness or calm-abiding meditation,(shamatha) and insight meditation,(vippashyana) or the understanding of the ultimate truth of emptiness. The understanding as far as foundation is concerned is only a conceptual understanding of the two truths. Since this is not enough for a practitioner, then what one needs is to attain transcendental knowledge or the wisdom which can have a direct realisation of the ultimate truth, a wisdom which can have a complete understanding of the relative truth as well as the final direct realisation of the ultimate truth. In order to generate that kind of wisdom, practice is needed and this is called the practice of generating wisdom or the accumulation of wisdom.As the practice in the form of the path includes these two, the practices of wisdom and method are in fact parallel and the same as the two accumulations of wisdom and merit. The accumulation of wisdom requires the practices of one- pointed absorption,(shamata) and transcendental knowledge or wisdom,(vippashyana). To attain these, one has to engage in the practice of mind training, the practices which require controlling the mind, as a result of which one will then come to the point of one-pointed concentration in the mind. After this is attained, one can place one’s mind on any type of object one-pointedly and since one has this characteristic 13
  14. 14. of one-pointed concentration, whatever is concentrated on will become perfectly concentrated on. Then, one’s one- pointed concentration can use the ultimate truth as an object. Now, the point should be made that one-pointed concentration may have any kind of object as the subject of attention, a table, or any other relative phenomenon, for instance. But since, in terms of real lasting benefit, there is no purpose in focussing one’s mind one-pointedly on any relative object, the purpose being to attain some realisation, one will naturally place one’s mind on the ultimate truth as the object of meditation. This practise of placing one’s mind one-pointedly on the ultimate truth is the practice of the perfection of wisdom, the accumulation of wisdom. This will continue in the course of one’s practice at the different levels of realisation, the different levels of the paths. At the same time, one also has to engage in the path of the accumulation of merit, which means the practice of the method aspect and this includes dealing with the relative truth. Even though, as it was explained earlier, the relative truth is as it appears to the worldly mind, which may be an unmistaken or undeluded mind, but also may be a deluded mind, it can still be used. This very mind, as well as the appearances to that mind, can be used as a form of practice to help in the realisation of ultimate enlightenment. This is the reasoning why the practitioner engages in the practices of loving kindness, compassion and the generation of bodhicitta. This is the reason that the relative truth is considered as a means for understanding the ultimate truth. It is said by Acharya Chandrakirti in his Madhyamika Avatara that the nominal truth, or to be precise, the perfect relative truth, serves as a means for attaining the understanding of ultimate truth. This means that one needs to engage in the practices 14
  15. 15. related to the nominal truth, such as the practice of loving kindness, compassion and the generation of bodhicitta. This is especially necessary in the course of Mahayana practice. As the ultimate purpose of the Mahayana practitioner is not just to have a direct understanding of the ultimate truth alone, ignoring all aspects of relative truth, but to have the understanding of the ultimate truth of all phenomena and to benefit all sentient beings. By making every effort to benefit sentient beings, one will ensure that when the result is finally attained, that this result will consist of both aspects of the truth, the ultimate and the relative. From the point of view of path, we have the two accumulations of wisdom and merit, which are explained on the basis of the middle way. This means that through the cultivation of the accumulation of wisdom, one is not aligned to the extreme of eternalism and through one’s accumulation of practices,the accumulation of merit, one is not aligned to the extreme of nihilism. In the practice of the accumulation of merit, one accepts all phenomena as they appear and then engages in the activities involving this very relative truth. This stance is very different from those ideologies who negate appearances even in the relative truth and negate such things as past and the future lives, or from those who negate anything which is not a direct object of one of the sense consciousnesses. Such ideologies state that whatever is not understood or known by an ordinary or deluded mind does not exist, and this is clearly aligned to the extreme of nihilism. However, if one is engaged in the practise of the accumulation of merit, although one accepts the existence of all appearances, now, all sentient beings become the object 15
  16. 16. of that practice through one’s practice of loving kindess, compassion and the generation of bodhicitta. In one attempts to familiarise oneself with these practices, there is always the opportunity of meditating on all sentient beings and having a detailed approach with respect to generating loving kindess and wishing happiness for all sentient beings, followed by the arising of compassion in which you do not wish suffering for all sentient beings. So all these practices involve the existence or acceptance of relative truth, which is necessary for the achievement of the ultimate result, which consists of the result of both the truths. As in the foundation and in the path, the result also consists of what is called the two bodies of enlightened beings, the truth body, (dharmakaya) and the form body, (rupakaya). This is the same as the division into the arupakaya and the rupakaya, the former being the dharmakaya and the latter being the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya together. The truth body is one’s accu,ulated understanding, the aspect of transcendental knowledge, which is a state of ultimate abandonment, and is the result connected to the ultimate truth. The form body, which has the thirty major and eighty minor signs of an enlightened being, is the result of the accumulation of merit, which is based on the relative truth. So, based on the knowledge or learning of relative truth,as a foundation, one can approach the ultimate truth. Then one engages in the pratcice of the accumulation of wisdom during the course of path, as a result of which one achieves the result of the truth body,the transcendental result, the ultimate transcendental knowledge of the enlightened being. 16
  17. 17. As a result of studying the relative truth as a foundation, then in the course of one’s path, one engages in the practice of the accumulation of merit, as a result of which then the ultimate result one achieves is the form body, by which the enlightened being manifests in many different emanations, to work for the sake of all sentient beings on a continual basis. There is another form of practice, another level, in which a the practitioner gets rid of one’s personal sufferings of one’s form and attains a certain level of realisation, but because it is not reinforced by a solid practice of the accumulation of merit, as in the case of a Mahayana practitioner, it cannot lead to the ultimate result. So , such an enlightened being may not be able to benefit other beings as a bodhisattva, as the ultimate enlightened being would do. It is due to the fact that the accumulation of merit is lacking more in this particular case, that is, the accumulation of wisdom is not complete as there is still something which this particular enlightened being has not understood, so one’s accumulation of wisdom is not complete, in terms of in this case,the aspect of the accumulation of merit. What we are referring to here, is that the practise of loving kindness and compassion in which all sentient beings are taken as the object of one’s meditation is not practised in this category of practice that covers the the lower levels of realistion. So because of this lacking, the accumulation of merit which leads to the result will also be incomplete. There is another stage where it can be a level higher than this lower level of enlightenment, but also not the ultimate. This means that the final realisation or attainment of the result depends on both accumulations which of course depend on the understanding or learning of the two truths as 17
  18. 18. a foundation. So, from the Madhyamika point of view, study of two truths is used as a foundation and then these are related to the two accumulations which one engages in during practice, as a result of which the two aspects of the result are attained. As a result of the final understanding of the ultimate truth, the enlightened mind of the enlightened being, in this case a Buddha, always remains in this understanding of the ultimate truth, but because of one’s practice of the accumulation of merit, the understanding of all relative phenomena is also concurrently existent, as a result of which a Buddha can give teachings according to the different levels of minds of sentient beings. It is because the kowledge of both the truths has been acomplished that a Buddha can lead every type of sentient being through different means or different methods, because the path or practice which a Buddha followed included the practice of the method and since this is the accumulation of merit,which has become the ultimate accumulation of merit, then as a result of this one can display all types of methods and means for different levels of disciples. This is the explanation why the the teachings of the Buddha, the sutras taught by the Buddha, encapsulate many different types of teachings, which are not meant for one particular type of disciple or one particular level of mind, because what is said in one sutra may not be appear to be in agreement with what is said in another sutra, on a relative level. The Buddha stated in one particular sutra, that he taught the different approaches to the teachings for the sake of different levels of disciples. So for every level of mind of those who are in search of the truth, there is an appropriate method, or 18
  19. 19. form of teaching to be found in the sutras. All these methods and means are ultimately ,of course, to assist in the realisation of the ultimate truth, but on a relative level, one has to depend on these means and methods, one has to accept and depend on the relative truth, on the appearances or phenomena which appear to one in the relative truth. Q: Could you explain a little more how the view of the Madhyamika school looks at eternalism and nihilism ? Khenpo: Just by the act of recognising phenomena as dependent arising, that they arise from cause condition and result, and not grasping onto things as being inherently existent, then this is an understanding or a view of phenomena which is not aligned to the two extremes of eternalism or nihilism. The understanding of the Madhyamika viewpoint is that one looks at everything from the point of view of the middle way. One’s understanding and viewpoint should not be aligned to either of the two extremes.If one accepts a phenomenon as inherently existent, then one is aligned to the extreme of eternalism, (that is, existence) and there is no more extreme view of existence than this, of accepting something as truly existent. On the other hand, if one says that whatever appears to the worldly mind does not exist at all, if one negates the appearances of the world, then this is a view aligned to the extreme of nihilism, non-existence. However, the Madhyamika approach to the viewpoint of relative truth is that it is dependent arising and as such,is free from both extremes. By asserting that it is not accepted as truly existent, one is not aligned to the extreme of existence, but due to the fact that something is accepted, that is, dependent arising, one is not also falling into the extreme of nhilism. 19
  20. 20. Q: Could you explain how I can approach understanding dependent arising in my everyday practice ? Khenpo: Well, the understanding of something as dependent arising will serve as a skillful means. You see, getting rid of grasping is not something that happens instantly. It requires gradual practices, the process of practice. With respect to the different levels of mind, for those who are very attached to the inherent existence of things, then the teaching that they do not exist inherently will help to get rid of that attachment and then the practitioner can continue from there. Now, if one is attached to the non-existence of mind, thinking that nothing exists ultimately, then one is again attached to a particular stance, one is aligned to the other extreme of nihilism. One has to relinquish this grasping also and realise that it is not so. Through this process of reasoning one can come to the understanding of the ultimate state where one will know that there is nothing to grasp at, that it is beyond the grasping of all samsaric conceptualisations or formulations. So it is a matter of the process. So the understanding of interdependent origination, (dependent arising) will help a great deal as this is the very basis of the Madhyamika point of view.Without having this understanding, nothing more can be imputed as to the nature of phenomena. Emptiness is also imputed on this as we have what is called the ‘emptiness of emptiness ‘. There are different types of emptiness mentioned in the texts. However, if one thinks that what is called emptiness is inherently existent, then this is also a false notion. This is a Vajrayana practise. The practice of Sutrayana and the practice of Vajrayana are different means of getting to the same ultimate result.Vajrayana is also a method which deals with the 20
  21. 21. relative truth. The various levels and different methods are there to stimulate one’s realisation. Even in the ordinary sense there are different methods or different roads that one can take to reach the same destination. For example, there may be different roads leading to the same town. One can take the circuitous route or the short cut to arrive at the same town, but both roads are made of the same material. In the same way the Vajrayana path, which involves the visualisation of and meditation on particular deities, is also a practice in the form of the relative truth, it can also be termed the accumulation of merit. It is a faster method due to many reasons which cannot be elaborated on here, so the result of enlightenment is said to be attained in less time. This is why it is considered as the most superior of the many skillful means, (Sanskrit;Upaya, Tibetan:Thabs) which are available to the practitioner. 21

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