What is the ultimate truth of Buddhism?
Have you ever wondered which is the ultimate truth of Buddhism? In facts, all doctrines, all Dharma talks, all statements of Lord Buddha are the truths. They are the truths of the world, the truths of the human life. However, we may find it difficult to remember all Buddha teachings. That’s the reason why we would like to pick up the ultimate truth in Buddhism. From this perception, we can take the further steps while discovering and studying as well as practicing the Buddha lessons.
Before researching the ultimate truth in Buddhism, it is vital for us to recognize what kinds of truths are.
Four Types of Truths in Buddhism
- First of All: The World Truths
The truths of the world or the right awareness about the humanity and ethos includes two kinds. The first one is the truths of the natural world or the cosmic. And the second one belongs to the human world created by the natural world and the ethos.
- Second: The Dharma or Scientific Truths
They are the truths which are discovered by the research process. The Dharma or scientific truths consist of four types: the scientific truths which are evidenced by the professional scientists; the truths of the philosophers, the truths of the spiritual leaders who make connections to gods. And the final one is the truths from the mindful cultivators.
- Third: The Truths Witnessed The Calm Wisdom
These truths can be achieved by the wisdom that is no longer affected by the suffering. And only the Holy ones like the Sravaka, the Pratyeka-budda or the Bodhisattva can attain this wisdom.
- The Last and Highest Level of Truth: The Wisdom and Truth of Buddha
Because of the Pure Bliss Wisdom, the various Buddhas had discovered the “suchness” of Dharma truths. This is the first type of truth. And the other is the perfect “suchness” Dharma truth that Lord Buddha had attained.
The Nature of Truths
Taking caution: According to the Buddhism worldview, there are four types of truth in the world. However, Buddhism neither refuse nor criticize other truths. In the Buddhism perspectives, each truth has its own role and plays different important levels for the humanity.
In other words, in spite of being on lower or higher level, all of the truths in our world have its value. Evidently, the existences of all above truths are helpful for human life. That is the reason why, of course, these truths are approved and still maintain their unchangeable positions for people.
Additionally, some truths of humanity or some truths relating to reality perception are not examined fully. Therefore, we can easily see that many truths from the ancient ones become the fairy tales or comedy story nowadays. On the other hand, some facts which are widely and commonly accepted somewhere. However, these facts may not be agreed with or become funny stories elsewhere.
How about the truths of philosophers or scientists? No matter how these truths are found out, by scientific calculations or spiritual alertness, these truths are just temporary. Literally, the truths from philosophers and scientists can be changed over the time. In reality, we can see these phenomena easily. In sum, nature lower levels of truths are constantly changed.
The Ultimate Truth of Buddhism
Before discovering the ultimate truth of Buddhism, we should remember that we are living in the binary world. To some extent, the Buddhism perspectives show the difference to our popular worldview.
The Binary World and The Buddhism World
The world we live prefer the opposite terms such as Yes or No, Right or Wrong, Birth or Death, Success or Failure to the Middle point of view. To be honest, if someone tells you that: “The ultimate goal of my life is to experience life”, you might feel that he or she is a little out of the crowd. As we have the tendency to achieve the specific things, we will not feel familiar to the terms “Middle Way”, “Impermanence”, or “Emptiness”.
In a famous book, “No death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life”, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh had mentioned as below:
“The Buddha taught that there is no birth, there is no death.
And, there is no coming, there is no going.
There is no same, it is no different.
And, there is no permanent self; there is no annihilation.”
Our Lord Buddha had chosen the “Middle Way” and that pathway leads Buddha to the enlightenment. On the contrary, as a normal person, we tend to fall into the thinking traps. It is extremely difficult for us to know which are the right pathway to follow. Normally, we would rethink or overthink if someone tells us “This thing is true”. The more we think about something we believe that they are the real facts, the more complicated these facts would become and hard for us to practice.
“The Buddha said that if you get caught in one idea and consider it to be “the truth”, then you miss the chance to know the truth. Even if the truth comes in person and knocks at your door, you will refuse to open your mind. So, if you are committed to an idea about truth or to an idea about the conditions necessary for your happiness, be careful.”
How about The Ultimate Truth of Buddhism?
Our Lord Buddha had attained the ultimate truth of Buddhism. This is the great achievement after understanding the perfect “suchness” Dharma truth. At this level, Buddha had deleted all suffering, totally liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Finally, Lord Buddha had perfectly enlightened and came to Nirvana. In fact, Nirvana is the highest level of attainment in Buddhism. Therefore, we can say that Nirvana is the subtlest truth, whereby no more binary world. Only are suchness and emptiness available in Nirvana.
It is really hard for us to express the ultimate truth of Buddhism fully. Nirvana is the reality that goes beyond ideas. One of the most famous statements of the great English writer, William Shakespeare: “To be or not to be, that is the question”. In contrast, Buddha said: “To be or not to be is not the question.”
If the birth and death are not the real concepts we have to pay much attention, we should have the same approach to Nirvana. According to Buddha:
“If you are caught by the notion of being and non-being, then the notion of emptiness can help you to get free. But if you are caught by the notion of emptiness, there is no hope.”
Now, you can remember again about the Three Poison in Buddhism: Greed, Hatred, and Illusion. Even though you get inspired by the “suchness” or “emptiness”, you are still misleading. Here is the reason: Nirvana is empty of all notions, including the notion of Nirvana. At the point, you may find the really subtle of Buddhism truth. Nevertheless, our Lord Buddha with the great compassion for the humanity and all sentient beings has shown us the Dharma pathway to the ultimate truth of Buddhism.
The Dharma Pathway to The Ultimate Truth of Buddhism
Although the ultimate truth of Buddhism is hard to express, it does not separate from all phenomena of the world. In the Buddhism point of view, all of us have Buddha-nature. An ant has its Buddha-nature, too. The Buddha had enlightened and become the World-honored One. And all Buddhism Dharma is available in the real world. We can say that the Buddhism world is not somewhere in the heaven. In fact, the Buddhism world and all Buddha teachings are beside us, within our mind. Only if we wake our Buddha-nature, we will find ourselves the appropriate Dharma pathway to the “perfect enlightenment”.
On the journey of experiencing the Dharma pathway, we enlighten ourselves. By this way, we can delete all suffering, liberate from the cycle of reincarnation. And becoming Buddha will be no longer a dream, Nirvana is no more far away from us. Becoming Boddhisattva, Buddha, attaining Nirvana are the wonderful becomings that are worthwhile for all enlightened ones.