Reply To: Thoughts on the Absolute Truth


1. Tobi wrote: “Anyone who tries to know the Absolute Truth with his six senses will fail miserably and continue to suffer in infinite samsara. “

That is exactly right. There is a deep point here. Normally, an average human (puthujjana) thinks that “pleasures” (assada) are in external objects perceived with five physical senses. Then they use the sixth sense (mind/mano) to come up with ways of acquiring more “things in the external world” in the hope of enjoying more assada. For example, one makes money to buy better houses, cars, cell phones, and watch movies, listen to music, eat delicious foods, try to marry a beautiful partner, etc. 

  • Even though it seems first that those efforts bear fruit, in the long run, none of those efforts lead to a “permanent satisfaction.” 
  • It is not easy to understand that any sukha experienced has a “hidden dukkha” embedded. This world can be thought of as a coin with sukha on one face and dukkha on the other. If one likes to get rid of even a trace of suffering, one should not be “attached to” (or have tanha) those external things. Dukkha cannot be eliminated without giving up “worldly pleasures.” In return, one will get a “permanent sukha” that is not a “vedana” since it cannot be expressed in terms of this world. It is the ‘absence of even a trace of suffering,” and it can be experienced in this life! That experience comes in stages where one can experience the loss of “dukha vedana,” mostly the “mind-made dukha vedana” (one obvious aspect of this is depression, which is of common occurrence these days despite the availability of so many ways of experiencing sensual pleasures. 

2. Under the “First Noble Truth,” Tobi wrote: “3. Vipariṇāmadukkhatā “dukkha mano” is related to mental suffering and pīḷana, i.e., attachment to what one has or craving for what one desires.”

That is correct. But there is another way to look at it, which I have tried to emphasize recently. 

  • Vipariṇāma is the opposite of pariṇāma. Let us understand the meanings of those two words. In English, evolution (pariṇāma) means the time progression of something where it gets better with time. For example, Darwin’s “theory of evolution” (“pariṇāma vāda” in Pāli/Sinhala) says monkeys progressed with time to become humans. Vipariṇāma is the opposite of evolution (devolution), where things move in the wrong/opposite direction with time. When one uses the eyes to enjoy sensory pleasures, one moves away from Nibbāna.
  • Every time we engage in an action seeking sensory pleasure, we move away from the “hidden pure mind” or the pabhassara citta; that means we move away from Nibbana
  • I tried to explain that in “Aniccaṁ Vipariṇāmi Aññathābhāvi – A Critical Verse.”
  • It requires learning about the “pure mind” in a “pabhassara citta.” One needs to spend some time on the series “Does “Anatta” Refer to a “Self”?” including the section referred there on the pabhassara citta: “Recovering the Suffering-Free Pure Mind.”

3. You wrote toward the end: “I have two guesses as to what this statement of the Buddha means; “has never been heard in this world.”

  • The simplest explanation is the following: When encountering an “unpleasurable situation/sensory input,” an average human (puthujjana) knows only two responses: (i) to try to avoid it or (ii) to compensate for it by seeking a “pleasurable sensory input.”
  • However, that approach only takes one away from the “suffering-free pure mind,” as explained in #2 above. I explained this in the post “Anicca Nature- Chasing Worldly Pleasures Is Pointless.”
  • However, no one knows about this “suffering-free pure mind” (pabhassara citta) unless explained by a Buddha!

4. Regarding Tobi’s question on the double meaning of Pali words, that issue is there with any language. 

5. At the very end of Tobi’s post: “These concepts did not even exist in the deva realms. As we know, Abhidhamma was first delivered in a Deva realm.”

  • The Buddha delivered discourses in ways compatible with the listener. Devas probably have their own “language” or way of communicating. They likely do not understand Pali. 
  • On each day of delivery in the Deva realm, the Buddha came to the Earth and met with Ven. Sariputta and summarized that day’s concepts to him (in probably Magadhi, the language spoken at that time by most). This is explained in “Abhidhamma – Introduction.” See #7 there.
  • The concepts are the same regardless of the language used. Each language has its own issues. This is a serious issue in translations since a translator needs to be versatile in both languages to do a decent job. Of course, one must also understand the concepts; that is the first requirement. 

6. Overall, I am quite impressed by your progress, Tobi. May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you in your efforts!

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