Absolute and Relative Truth

I am writing this about 1:00 pm Easter Sunday, 2013, and the fact it is Easter Sunday is an interesting place to start this discussion. There are many ways to think about what is and is not true, and about what we mean by true, but here I am going to be using the Buddhist view of absolute and relative truth.

Relative Truth

From the Buddhist viewpoint,relative truth is truth as we normally think about it.  so from a relative truth view, I am Michael Sanger, I am not Ken Wilber. From a relative truth point of view it is warm where I am sitting, it isn’t freezing.

Absolute Truth

Absolute truth is what is true from the point of view of an enlightened being. I find it difficult to say much about what that means, since I’m not an enlightened being, but that won’t keep me from trying.  So I think that while an enlightened being would agree that my name is Michael Sanger, they would disagree (sort of – the next paragraph explains the sort of) that I am Michael Sanger. They would agree my name is Michael Sanger, but they would not say that I am Michael Sanger. If you think about the social creation of reality, then you might see that anything you can say about who or what I am is socially constructed, it is all just definitions of who I am that are defined by words.  And there is something (or are somethings) behind/beyond that social construction of who/what I am.

Absolute and Relative Truth don’t contradict each other

The most interesting thing about absolute and relative truth is that they don’t contradict each other.  Many mystic traditions talk about life being like a dream, and in a dream whatever is happening is really happening. But once you wake up you realize it wasn’t really happening — not from the waking point of view.  So last night I dreamt I was locking in a car and while I was dreaming that was true.  Now that I’ve woken up I know I wasn’t really trapped in the car (absolute truth) but in the dream I was trapped in the car (relative truth.)  I think it is something like that.

How this relates to FSATFOTI

So how does this relate to FSATFOTI?  It isn’t that the FSATFOTI is absolute truth – I’m sure it isn’t. (at least pretty sure.)  It is a relative truth, but it might be a more accurate relative truth than the view that each of us are independent, isolated individuals.

Which is to say, the fetish of the individual–placing undue emphasis on the importance of the individual being–is based on the assumption that there are individuals.  Now of course each of us is an individual; this is a relative truth. We are not borgs, or hive-mind beings. But this is a less accurate relative truth than the truth that we are all interconnected.

So while neither the idea of FSATFOTI nor the idea we are all on our own are absolute truths, FSATFOTI is a closer approximation to absolute truth than the alternative.

But that is only relatively true, and if you look for where your ‘me’ really is, you might have a hard time finding it.

What is the Absolute Truth?

As somebody once said, “What can’t be said can’t be said. And it can’t be whistled either.”  And from what i’ve read it appears that not much can be said about absolute truth.  It is like “a mute describing the taste of honey.”  However, if you click on the Buddhism tag in the tag listing to your right, you will find some hints.

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