A Quick Look at the Two Truths…

by Benjamin Langley on September 1, 2009 · 1 comment

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

-Albert Einstein

At the risk of being ‘shipwrecked’… I’m going to do my best to give you a useful distinction in this post.

First things first.

What exactly are the Two Truths?

The two truths are Absolute Truth, and relative truth.

Absolute Truth is unexplainable.  It can’t be spoken.  This doesn’t stop us from trying, though.  I talk about it quite a bit in this blog, and many great masters throughout history have done their best to describe the indescribable.  Entering the Kingdom of Heaven, merging with the Tao, and returning to Buddha nature are all attempts to explain Absolute Truth.  I personally like the concept of Energy Oneness… but those words can never be Absolute Truth… it is my sincerest hope that they point you in the right direction…. but ultimately:

Only the experience of Absolute Truth is Absolute Truth!

The classic Taoist explanation:

The teachings are like a finger pointing to the moon… the intention of the pointing finger is for you to look at the moon… but if you only stare at the finger, you will miss out on all the heavenly splendor!

That is all any spiritual teaching really amounts to.  The descriptions can be useful… but only as much as they get you to look beyond the description… to that which can’t be described.  Many get caught up in ‘this teaching’ or ‘that teaching’… and they never really get what the teaching was pointing at in the first place.

If a carpenter wants to build a house, he might use his favorite hammer.  If his favorite hammer isn’t getting the job done, though, he will either modify it to make it workable… or he will find a new tool to get the job done.  The point was always to build a house.  It was never about the individual hammer, saw, chisel, etc.  Those are just tools, and they are only useful when they are helping to bring about the larger goal.

But what about relative truth?

“Relative truth is functional truth.”

-Tamo Willsat

There is a large range of relative truths.  They are usually designed to get some result.  Their value can be measured in how well they get their intended result.

Relative truths tend to be context dependant.

For example, Newton’s Laws of Motion tend to predict a certain level of observable events very well.  They have stood the test of time.  They are very useful.  They can still be used to accurately predict the trajectory of a missile, the effectiveness of a resistance training workout, and any number of forces acting on living and non-living objects.

They don’t work very well at other levels though.  When approaching the speed of light… Newton’s Laws no longer work.  This made way for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Also, at the subatomic level… Newton’s Laws aren’t very useful.  This made way for the work of Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and other explorers of Quantum Physics.

Not all relative truths fall under what is typically called ‘science’.  “Trash pick up is on Monday” is a valuable relative truth in certain neighborhoods.  In others, the more valuable relative truth is “Trash pick up is on Wednesday”.

It is important to note that even the teachings designed to lead us to Absolute Truth… are all actually relative truths.  Some work better for certain people.  Other people prefer different teachings.  Only the experience itself is Absolute Truth.

One last way of looking at this:

Absolute Truth is the experience of Energy Oneness… recognizing your own  Buddha nature… all else (including this description) falls under relative truth.

It takes some time… some consideration… and some meditation… but it is incredibly powerful when you really balance your understanding of Absolute Truth and relative truth.

So what do the Two Truths have to do with Peaceful Prosperity?

The Two Truths are here to remind you what meditation is about.

I talk a lot about the goal of this site:  Cultivating Consciousness for Peace, Power, and Happiness…

How does this operate with the Two Truths?

Cultivating Consciousness describes the methods I use to bring the greater awareness and acceptance that will not only create a greater understanding of the Two Truths… but will also make you more efficient at achieving anything in life.

Peace & Happiness are two descriptions of experience that usually come from different ways of touching Absolute Truth.

Power is aligning yourself with higher quality relative truths that help you re-create yourself and your world in such a way that you not only get ‘worldly outcomes’, you also leave the door open for Absolute Truth.

I hope you enjoy this… and I hope you can make some kind of sense out of it :-)

Of course, in the absence of clear understanding… the best thing to do is smile!

There will be more to come in the near future.

keep smiling,


P.S.  Tamo has done quite a few posts on the Two Truths on his sites.  Take a look:

  1. The Principle of the Two Truths
  2. Common Errors in Understanding the Two Truths.
  3. The Continuum of Truth – a Paradox of the Two Truths
  4. Alchemical Principles in General part 2
  5. More About Relative Truth
  6. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 1
  7. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 2
  8. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 3
  9. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 4
  10. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 5
  11. Vajrayana Buddhism and the Two Truths: An Illustrative Example: part 6
  12. The Two Truths as Antidote to the Problems of Dogma Part 1
  13. The Two Truths as Antidotes to the Problems of Dogma Part 2
  14. When No Dogma becomes A Dogma: More on the Two Truths

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