Author Topic: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?  (Read 837 times)

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« on: February 19, 2017, 06:29:33 am »
Transcribed from BuddhaNet:

Only truths that can be tested are real.

There is no better virtue than a heart of grand compassion;
There is no sweeter joy than a mind of quiet serenity.

There is no purer truth than the existence of impermanence;
There is no higher religion than the development of moral wisdom.

There is no greater philosophy than the teaching of truth
which can be verified by all of us right here and now.

Truth is subject to practice and testing.
If it is proper truth, then we should definitely
be able to acquire sweet fruits though practice
right now.  If it only abstractly promises rewards in the next life,
it may be a trick to delude the ignorant.

source:  http://www.buddhanet.net/flash/toc/index.html

What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2017, 06:37:43 am »
The reason I decided to start this thread is because of a recent thread in The Tea Room Forum, which discussed a scientific discovery and made an assertion that a teaching in a specific tradition could be compared to this discovery.

I found this not at all surprising, nor disturbing, because of an old saying:  "The truth is the truth, no matter what the source."  The truth is not the domain of any given guru, teacher, group, or religion.  I simply is the truth.

The problem we all run across is determining if  ideas and concepts, which are presented as true, are really true.  Or, more importantly, do these truths represent reality.  So with that in mind, let us begin:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2017, 08:45:54 am »
Let's refine the question.  This is a Buddhist forum, so we should discuss it in that context, right?  In that there are 2 truths -  relative and and ultimate. 

Which of those 2 truths are you speaking of?

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2017, 10:16:25 am »
Hi, Idle Chater.

Please read the first post in this thread.  It should answer your question.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2017, 10:39:38 am »
Hi, Idle Chater.

Please read the first post in this thread.  It should answer your question.

it doesn't, Ron.  Please answer my question.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2017, 11:11:23 am »
Hi, Idle Chater.

Please read the first post in this thread.  It should answer your question.

it doesn't, Ron.  Please answer my question.


It does.  I will put the answer in red letters for you:

Truth is subject to practice and testing.
If it is proper truth, then we should definitely
be able to acquire sweet fruits though practice
right now.  If it only abstractly promises rewards in the next life,
it may be a trick to delude the ignorant.


This is the truth of which I am speaking.  If you are aware of any other kind of truth which meets this criteria, then I am open to learning from you, provided what you say can be verified and validated by anyone who reads your answer.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 11:15:08 am by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2017, 11:18:32 am »
Hi, Idle Chater.

Please read the first post in this thread.  It should answer your question.

it doesn't, Ron.  Please answer my question.

Relative or Ultimate.  These are the only two truths in Buddhism.  Of which do you speak?


It does.  I will put the answer in red letters for you:

Truth is subject to practice and testing.
If it is proper truth, then we should definitely
be able to acquire sweet fruits though practice
right now.  If it only abstractly promises rewards in the next life,
it may be a trick to delude the ignorant.


This is the truth of which I am speaking.  If you are aware of any other kind of truth which meets this criteria, then I am open to learning from you, provided what you say can be verified and validated by anyone who reads your answer.

What I'm trying to do is "verify and validate" the question.

This:
  • Good
  • Not blamable
  • Praise by the wise
  • Undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness

I want to know, precisely, what you mean when you use the word "truth" in a Buddhist context.

I want to know if you know what you're talking about.

I want to know these things so we can actually talk about them.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 11:35:38 am by IdleChater »

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 11:45:51 am »
Truth?

The was a maiden of the Blackfeet people.  She was fetching water one day.  She looked up on a cliff above the river and saw a herd of Buffalo.  Her people were starving, so she called out to the Buffalo to jump off the cliff and die so her people could eat.  If they did this, she said, she would marry their chief.  The Buffalo lept from the cliff and died.  She was about to run of to tell her people when the chief of the Buffalo stopped her and said she would have to come with him and be his wife.

Later, her father noticed she was missing.  He went to find her and when he got to the river, he saw from the tracks he found that she had been taken by the Budffalo.  He set out to resue her, but he was caught by the Buffalo, who crushed him to dust.

The maiden learned of this and went to the place where her father had died.  She spread her shawl on the ground and began to sing her people's death song.  Before long, she noticed that something was rising beneath her shawl.  It was her father.  She continued to sing the death song and soon, her father was standing before her, alive.  The her husband, the chief of the Buffalo came and praiser and said that in honoring her dead father, she had brought him back to life, yet her people offered no such respect for the Buffalo they killed and now they were starving.  He said that he would teach her their song and their dance and if they would do this, the Buffalo would always return and the people would never be hungry.

This is the origin of the Buffalo Dance and the People have practiced it ever since.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 12:15:02 pm by IdleChater »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 04:00:26 pm »
I answered your question:  Read what was written in bold red, which was quoted from the Buddhist teaching website, which discussed truth as a topic. Perhaps you want to spend some time exploring the website instead of repeatedly complaining about my answer to you.

I (personally) find this test and definition a good place to begin this discussion. If you don't agree, provide your own ideas.  That's the purpose of forums like ours.

I find what you have provided in what I assume you intend to be a Buddhist context to be a good build upon a description of the truth.:

Quote
Good
Not blamable
Praise(d) by the wise

Not sure what your source is, but it works for me as a better, more expansive definition, although I have found that sometimes the truth is not considered to be good. At least folks might not like the answer to questions they ask about it.

Truth is sometimes downright evil and harmful.  I provide an example of this kind of truth later in this discussion.

Quote
Undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness

Not always does truth lead to benefit and happiness.  I think this is often dependent upon perspective.  For example, when the Nazis pointed out that exterminating Jews in Post WW-I Germany would solve all of their economic and political problems, when they began the process of killing them, the result was non-beneficial all the way around resulting in WW-II.

As for your Native American (American Indian) myth, which I have read before in a museum in Rochester, New York. There it was displayed as a Seneca story, which, like many myths was offered to explain to children why certain conditions exist as they were in their time.  As you must know, such myths were created to explain what we now know are purely conditions and events in nature, which were not understood at the time, or, where there was more advanced understanding, was perhaps provided purely as entertainment when socializing around a campfire.

In another thread I gave you the definition of "The Dhamma", Truth, from The Pali Text Society:

Quote
The Dhamma, i. e. moral philosophy, wisdom, truth as propounded by Gotama Buddha in his discourses & conversations, collected by the compilers of the 5 Nikāyas (dhamma -- vinayaŋ sangāyantehi dhammasangāhakehi ekato katvā VvA 3; cp. mayaŋ dh.˚ŋ ca vinayañ ca sangāyāma Vin ii.285), resting on the deeper meaning of dhamma as expld under B 1 a, & being in short the "doctrinal" portions of the Buddhist Tipiṭaka in contradiction to the Vinaya, the portion expounding the rules of the Order (see piṭaka). Dhamma as doctrine is also opposed to Abhidhamma "what follows on the Dhamma."

I think you will agree that even this definition cannot currently meet the test suggested in what I posted in bold red, because those of limited education, training, facilities, and skill cannot even dream of where to begin in applying the test I provided to you in bold red.

In science I can point out similar circumstances.  For, example in the science of chemical analysis, in a chemistry lab in order to determine the contents of a given sample, you must first have the education, the training, the skill, the facilities, the equipment, the authorization, the motivation, and the materials to perform an analytical test to verify and validate the contents of any given sample provided or discovered.  And the result of the appropriate test will only tell you that any given element,  molecule, or compound was present.  This is called a qualitative test.  To know how much of it is present requires a different test, a quantitative test.  Even then, after properly applying these tests, there will be variations in the results due to ambient conditions in the lab environment such as temperature, humidity, and pressure.  Then other variations in results get introduced due to experience levels on the part of the experimenter or technician, or the kind of, or condition of equipment used.  For example mass spectrometry  is much more accurate, than liquid chromatography.  Liquid chromatography can be more accurate than a wet lab titration, and etc.

I am sure, since you seem like a reasonably smart person, you get my point.

Therefore, when it comes to truth, since you don't like the test method I provided from another teaching Buddhist Website, what do you suggest as a better test for truth?



« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 04:27:08 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 04:43:28 pm »
I answered your question:  Read what was written in bold red, which was quoted from the Buddhist teaching website, which discussed truth as a topic. Perhaps you want to spend some time exploring the website instead of repeatedly complaining about my answer to you.

I (personally) find this test and definition a good place to begin this discussion. If you don't agree, provide your own ideas.  That's the purpose of forums like ours.

I find what you have provided in what I assume you intend to be a Buddhist context to be a good build upon a description of the truth.:

Quote
Good
Not blamable
Praise(d) by the wise

Not sure what your source is,


Kalama Sutra.



Quote
Quote
Undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness

Not always does truth lead to benefit and happiness. 

Well, if it's the Buddha's instruction, .......


Quote
I think this is often dependent upon perspective.

As for your Native American (American Indian) myth, which I have read before in a museum in Rochester, New York. There it was displayed as a Seneca story, which, like many myths was offered to explain to children why certain conditions exist as they were in their time.  As you must know, such myths were created to explain what we now know are purely conditions and events in nature, which were not understood at the time, or, where there was more advanced understanding, was perhaps provided purely as entertainment when socializing around a campfire.

They offer far more than just that.  It's a matter of perspective.

Truth, in this case, is relative.  Everything we've discussed thus far is relative.  Dependantly arisen and not real.

Why do you insist on a discussion that is ultimately futile.

« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 05:03:45 pm by IdleChater »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2017, 05:13:28 pm »
Quote
Idle Chater:  "Why do you insist on a discussion that is ultimately futile."

Not insisting.  Participation is voluntary, unless you are compulsive neurotic.   :wink1:

Quote
Kalama Sutra.

Ahhhh!   :smack:  Thought it sounded familiar. 

It has been a long day,  the odors from my wife's cooking is wafting in from the kitchen.

Catch you down stream.

If you are willing, would like to explore what your definition is of "real", other than "that which is dependently arisen."  There are many things which are real, such as entropy, energy, and matter, none of which are dependent upon consciousness.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2017, 05:20:04 pm by Ron-the-Elder »
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 06:09:26 pm »


Quote
Kalama Sutra.

Ahhhh!   :smack:  Thought it sounded familiar.

Really?  Sounded familiar?  You've been promoting the Kalama Sutra in the web, for years, like it was the most important teaching, ever, making it sound like it was the basis for all this "validate and verify" talk you're so fond of and this simply sounded familiar?  Geez, Ron, it's the most important part of the teaching.  It's the Buddha's instruction on how we "vaildate and verify", the criteria by which we evaluate a teaching or even a question.

And it sounded familiar?

I've pondered this and some of your recent posts and wondered how, seeing as the KS is so important to you, how you could assert some of the things you do, when they seem to be so cleary different from what the Buddha taught.


That's really disappointing.


Offline VincentRJ

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2017, 07:24:50 pm »
From a completely pragmatic perspective, what is 'true' is a procedure, attitude, action, understanding (whether documented or not), that is beneficial to oneself and others within a particular set of circumstances.

'Truth' as a general concept that applies to all circumstances, seems to transcend all practical considerations at the basic level of our existence and survival. A good example, I think, would be Newtonian mecahnics and the laws of motion as they apply to our life on earth, as opposed to Einsteinian and Quantum theories where there are no straight lines, and time and space warp to maintain the constancy of the speed of light (in a vacuum), and so on.

I imagine there is a 'trickle down' effect when such 'universal truths' begin to have to have a practical use. Will the amazingly fast Quantum Computers ever become a practical reality?

From the perspective of Buddhist philosophy, a 'so-called' universal truth that impresses me, is the concept that all our perceptions, and all our ideas, thoughts and theories, exist only in our own minds.

The confusion arises when people illogically deduce from such a statement, that because a perception of an object exists only in the mind, it therefore follows that the object itself, which is the source of the perception, exists only in the mind.

Such an argument is clearly nonsense. A perception of a tree is a perception. It's not the tree itself. It's a particular type of perception which a Homo Sapiens creature who speaks English labels as a 'tree'. The perception exists only in our mind, but the source of the perception exists in its own right.

The true nature of that object we call a tree, is up for indefinite debate. There will be as many different versions as there are people who view the tree, as is the case with all things.

There will be billions of different perceptions if we include all sentient creatures, such as ants, insects, birds and all wildlife etc.

From an advanced scientific perspective, we might break down all the constituent parts of the tree into atomic sub-particles and waves.
So what is a tree? It's an organism that gradually grows and gets larger if the environmental conditions are favourable. If it's near your house it might fall on your house during a severe storm, flatten your house, and even kill you. It's a real object.

I'm not sure whether I've now clarified the situation or added to the confusion.  :wink1:

Offline IdleChater

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2017, 07:58:29 pm »
From a completely pragmatic perspective, what is 'true' is a procedure, attitude, action, understanding (whether documented or not), that is beneficial to oneself and others within a particular set of circumstances.

'Truth' as a general concept that applies to all circumstances, seems to transcend all practical considerations at the basic level of our existence and survival. A good example, I think, would be Newtonian mecahnics and the laws of motion as they apply to our life on earth, as opposed to Einsteinian and Quantum theories where there are no straight lines, and time and space warp to maintain the constancy of the speed of light (in a vacuum), and so on.

I imagine there is a 'trickle down' effect when such 'universal truths' begin to have to have a practical use. Will the amazingly fast Quantum Computers ever become a practical reality?

From the perspective of Buddhist philosophy, a 'so-called' universal truth that impresses me, is the concept that all our perceptions, and all our ideas, thoughts and theories, exist only in our own minds.

The confusion arises when people illogically deduce from such a statement, that because a perception of an object exists only in the mind, it therefore follows that the object itself, which is the source of the perception, exists only in the mind.

Such an argument is clearly nonsense. A perception of a tree is a perception. It's not the tree itself. It's a particular type of perception which a Homo Sapiens creature who speaks English labels as a 'tree'. The perception exists only in our mind, but the source of the perception exists in its own right.

The true nature of that object we call a tree, is up for indefinite debate. There will be as many different versions as there are people who view the tree, as is the case with all things.

There will be billions of different perceptions if we include all sentient creatures, such as ants, insects, birds and all wildlife etc.

From an advanced scientific perspective, we might break down all the constituent parts of the tree into atomic sub-particles and waves.
So what is a tree? It's an organism that gradually grows and gets larger if the environmental conditions are favourable. If it's near your house it might fall on your house during a severe storm, flatten your house, and even kill you. It's a real object.

I'm not sure whether I've now clarified the situation or added to the confusion.  :wink1:

I think there's a lot of truth in your post.

Perception is so important.  Everything we experience is perception.  This is not reality.  It is an interpretation of of our sensory consciousness -what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste.  We interpret this based on habitual patterns of thinking and behavior as well as conditioning.  We call the sky blue, not because there is some inherent "blueness" in what we see.  Somewhere in our past someone told us it was blue and we believe that.  Conditioning.


Offline VincentRJ

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Re: What Is Truth & How Do You Know It?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2017, 10:14:15 pm »
From a completely pragmatic perspective, what is 'true' is a procedure, attitude, action, understanding (whether documented or not), that is beneficial to oneself and others within a particular set of circumstances.

'Truth' as a general concept that applies to all circumstances, seems to transcend all practical considerations at the basic level of our existence and survival. A good example, I think, would be Newtonian mecahnics and the laws of motion as they apply to our life on earth, as opposed to Einsteinian and Quantum theories where there are no straight lines, and time and space warp to maintain the constancy of the speed of light (in a vacuum), and so on.

I imagine there is a 'trickle down' effect when such 'universal truths' begin to have to have a practical use. Will the amazingly fast Quantum Computers ever become a practical reality?

From the perspective of Buddhist philosophy, a 'so-called' universal truth that impresses me, is the concept that all our perceptions, and all our ideas, thoughts and theories, exist only in our own minds.

The confusion arises when people illogically deduce from such a statement, that because a perception of an object exists only in the mind, it therefore follows that the object itself, which is the source of the perception, exists only in the mind.

Such an argument is clearly nonsense. A perception of a tree is a perception. It's not the tree itself. It's a particular type of perception which a Homo Sapiens creature who speaks English labels as a 'tree'. The perception exists only in our mind, but the source of the perception exists in its own right.

The true nature of that object we call a tree, is up for indefinite debate. There will be as many different versions as there are people who view the tree, as is the case with all things.

There will be billions of different perceptions if we include all sentient creatures, such as ants, insects, birds and all wildlife etc.

From an advanced scientific perspective, we might break down all the constituent parts of the tree into atomic sub-particles and waves.
So what is a tree? It's an organism that gradually grows and gets larger if the environmental conditions are favourable. If it's near your house it might fall on your house during a severe storm, flatten your house, and even kill you. It's a real object.

I'm not sure whether I've now clarified the situation or added to the confusion.  :wink1:


I think there's a lot of truth in your post.

Perception is so important.  Everything we experience is perception.  This is not reality.  It is an interpretation of of our sensory consciousness -what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste.  We interpret this based on habitual patterns of thinking and behavior as well as conditioning.  We call the sky blue, not because there is some inherent "blueness" in what we see.  Somewhere in our past someone told us it was blue and we believe that.  Conditioning.


Interesting point about the blue sky. I've had the impression for a number of years that the ancient Greeks were not aware of the 'blueness' of the sky, because there is no reference to it in their literature, that survives.

Here are a couple of sites that attempt to explain the issue.
http://www.sciencealert.com/humans-couldn-t-even-see-the-colour-blue-until-modern-times-research-suggests
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2976405/Could-ancestors-blue-Ancient-civilisations-didn-t-perceive-colour-didn-t-word-say-scientists.html

Maybe the DailyMail is not a credible source. Sorry about that.  :wink1: 

 


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