Origins of the "double truth"

Steve Farmer saf at SAFARMER.COM
Fri Dec 22 19:31:09 UTC 2000

Bjarte Kaldhol writes on the origins of the "double truth":

> There is, of course, no need to point to a privileged tradition, but on the
> other hand, a Buddhist or Indian origin of the idea cannot be ruled out by
> pointing to superficially similar ideas elsewhere (at a later time).

The resemblances are not superficial and are not all from later
periods. See my last post for examples.

> From a
> Buddhist standpoint, it might not be a question of "two truths" in any
> western meaning, but rather two ways of perceiving phenomena - either
> accepting them as "real" and suffer, or meditate upon emptiness until they
> become "unreal".

Your suggestion that there is some peculiarly "western" (as
opposed to "Indian"?) meaning of "truth" is a remnant of old
romantic ideas about the "wisdom of the East." I don't see a
great divide here.

> In Buddhism, the only "truth" that matters is the Path.
> Shantideva says that those who wish to "pacify suffering", should
> "generate" the wisdom of emptiness through meditation. It is this
> insistence upon meditation that makes the idea specifically Indian, I
> believe. This is very different from scholastic ways of harmonizing
> manuscript traditions.

Go back and read the Stoics or Epicureans or Daoists for many

Followed by the kicker:

> Buddhist thought is much deeper than anything I have
> met elsewhere.

No comment needed.

My best,
Steve Farmer

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