This is a transcription, edit, adaption, plus additional sentences, from a recorded session. I gave this guided meditation and talk during a 90-minute Zoom session on Dharma teachings hosted by Sangha Live on 5 June 2022 on the theme of Relative and Ultimate Truth.
Thank you to Sangha Live and Jorge (based in Portugal. Guardian Angel for the 90-minute session) for hosting the teachings.
I wish to offer a 30-minute guided meditation, a 30-minute talk and respond to any questions and answers. The guided meditation will focus on relative truth.
If you find the periods of silence between the words are not long enough, please put in a complaint to Sangha Live. I will increase the length of the periods of noble silence in the guided meditation in the future.
Let me first speak to you for a couple of minutes on the theme of the evening. We find ourselves as human beings under the influence of the world impacting upon us. We impact upon the world. We find ourselves addressing and attending to these impacts every day. Practice shows the way to mindfulness, clarity, well-being, equanimity, wisdom and much more. Such a development gives us the capacity in the daily life to respond well to outgoing and incoming situations, which we did not plan, nor expect.
There is the capacity to respond well to situations within ourselves. We often have a conditioned view about ourselves but there is the potential to find insight and clarity not bound to a conditioned view. All of this is called relative truth conventional truth. It is important and valuable to be mindful of relative truth.
I will address the ultimate relative truth. Consider ultimate truth in a different way to relative truth.
A Guided Meditation on Relative Truth
Let’s first have a 30-minute guided meditation together.
I will say a sentence or two. Then there is noble silence between one to two minutes. Then I say another sentence or two This will be the thread running through the guided meditation.
First, we check the posture. If you are sitting on a chair, sit tall. if you have any back issues use the back of the chair to support the back. Experience the whole posture. Feel tall, upright and alert.
- This is the experience of just sitting. Be very steady
- A human being abides conscious of itself.
- Be unusually still with the posture.
- Be conscious of the physical life.
- Energy reveals vibrations.
- Life experiences an intimacy with itself.
- Expand your awareness This includes the space around your being.
- In a conventional sense and our everyday agreement, we abide in the immediacy of this environment
- We co-exist with what is around us.
- Life is relative to what surrounds us. What surrounded us is relative to the way we perceive it.
- As human beings, we have potential. We have the potential to make worthwhile changes with ourselves.
- We have the potential to initiate changes with who or what surrounds us, near and far.
- This is our conventional experience of life.
- Every event is relative to something else, inwardly and outwardly.
- Is this the totality of discovery?
- We make changes to develop as a human being exploring coexistence with another and what surrounds us, near and far. This is a worthwhile preparation. For what?
- What is That not about co-existence, not about self/I/my and other?
- To see deeply into life, we explore the richness of touching upon liberating truth.
- What is a liberating truth, an ultimate truth, not tied to conventional truth/self-other?
- Thank you for lending an ear for the past 30 minutes.
Talk on Relative and Ultimate Truth
In our brief, lifelong engagement with this world, we experience daily dynamics This includes all that shows itself from within including feelings, thinking, perceptions, consciousness, awareness, meditation and more. All of this reveal features of our experience of life.
We realise these experiences, directly or indirectly, can have a considerable impact on us. Recognition of the impact shows acknowledgement what life brings. With it, a response ability comes – as distinct from the weight of responsibility. Response-ability manifests in the conventional world. This includes taking wise care of our existence and our response ability to expand seeing clearly in terms of care for other people, creatures and the environment.
In this movement through daily life, we explore the relative truth of things which requires a huge dedication. We encounter this body of teachings, as well as other teachings. The teachings appeal to something deep and authentic with value. Any worthwhile body of teachings reduces the suffering, stress and unhappiness, as well as offers fresh insights and understanding about the dynamics of life. We feel an empathy of the circumstances of the other whatever they might be.
Some of you listening this evening experience and know a wealth of Dharma practice. I am using this word practice as an umbrella concept to bring the best out of our being. This includes livelihood, action, meditation, awareness, love and wisdom. There is no end to our potential to keep practising to stay steady and true to the practice, so that we leave no stone unturned. Practice makes possible a sense of our validity as a human being. Through this process, we need to be exceptionally mindful to see clearly any kind of reactivity of the self, of I and my.
If you think you are important, then frankly regard this view as an ego trip. If you think you are unimportant, then regard this view as an ego trip, as well.
Exploration leads to the freeing up of the being through an exceptionally mindful and conscious life without polarising into the extremes, such as I am somebody and I am a nobody. This preoccupation with the condition of the self becomes a distraction from authentic discovery. A world of practice might be over years or decades. For another person, practice emerges after a significant turning point including a sudden inspiration or realisation.
Perhaps a change from a dramatic situation, due to the phenomena of the impact of the event, shifted your life in a fresh direction. To use religious language, you were born again. You decisively moved out of a situation, opened up your life and moving onwards. You became deeply committed to developing a new way of life. This can become a gradual and ongoing practice – heart, mind and actions or the combination of sudden and gradual change in lifestyle.
Practice requires vigilance regarding the ego that contracts our being into a certain condition. We can recognise our potential and feel our limitations. There is much more we can engage in. Our potential as a human being is phenomenal. While going on a remarkable journey we might experience a healthy doubt.
A summary of the doubt arises in our thoughts.
- Is that it?
- Is life all about a constant exploration and constant looking at issues with engagement in service?
- Is there anything more?
- Are we bound to a relative and conventional way with learning and discoveries for personal development as the most important?
- Can we treat such an approach to life in another way?
- Is development in life is a preparation.
Practise is a Preparation for What?
Let me speak to you right now about what it is a preparation for.
Take all the sound years of practice that you have engaged in and all the changes you have made in your life. You have attended retreats you have been on pilgrimages. I hope you’ve all made pilgrimages in your life. You have experienced great benefits of meditation, religion, spirituality psychology, psychotherapy, ordination, yoga, tai chi, massage, solitude, silence being in the nature and more. You have developed wise relationships, communications, contact with family members, children as well as being seasoned meditators. You are still willing to make changes in your life. precious and important. The experience of happiness still arises years after made such changes.
You have a vision as well as the practice for exploration. This happiness takes you in the right direction.
- Can you recognise progress, development and its change take place in time?
- How about forgetting your life?
- How about forgetting your life right now?
It is an everyday truth since it is relative to your past, present and future. This is an invitation for you to turn your back on your life.
You forget all the subtle levels of self-interest to improve, develop and expand. Forget it all. Where does it leave you? You might think it leaves you in the present moment. Forget the present moment. It is another distraction. It is so easy to glorify the here and now. Do not put yourself into that box. What is far more important than being in the here and now?
Yes. See past, present and future as relative and mutually influencing perceptions. Do not plant yourself back into these three fields of time. You are turning your back on your life turning your back on everything you have done and turning away turning away from all the changes that you have made and any achievements you have accomplished. You are turning your back on time.
Don’t you feel in the deep of your being it is limiting to be confined to development. change and progress?
You might be calm, engaged in beautiful work serving others and experiencing a beautiful way of life. You may still feel contracted to worthy activities. Be ready to leave behind the calmness and clarity Forget all of that. You’ve done your work you’ve done the preparation so forget the relative truth.
Say to yourself: “I’ve done enough work on myself. I’ve done enough preparation.”
How will you find out the ultimate truth of life which has nothing to do with me and my life, you and your life. It has nothing to do with how we are as a human being. It is not relevant to ultimate truth.
Exploration now gets interesting
I trust you’re still able to listen. This requires a certain trust, but the trust has a relativity to it since it comes from within. You ignore your history without any more interest in development. You let go of all of that without slipping back into the old patterns. One person might say to herself or himself, “I am left being in the moment.” Another might say: “I want to be different from how I was. We totally decline to hold to these two views or other similar views the mind has manufactured. Find another way of knowing which is without any connection to your personal story.
I’m using the word ultimate in a cautious way as it can imply a duality in the language of relative and ultimate. You drop the focus on the relative truth, so you are not left with one truth, nor an ultimate truth. There is no interest to be boxed in to a relative or ultimate truth. If I’m not boxed in, nor wishing to be contracted in any way, this begins to give a sense of a profound discovery without changing any thinking about myself or anything else.
(Added in italics and first paragraph following. Not in recording).
In reality, there are:
- no truths
- no two truths
- multiple truths
- no truth in a view everybody has their own truth
- no relative truth
- no ultimate truth
- no truth beyond words
- no truth within words
- truth neither exists nor does not exist
- no individual, no organisation, no book, no tradition, secular or otherwise has the truth
- nobody can tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Views of truth bear little or no relationship to truth. Useful facts have a genuine value in the conventional world. Relationship to facts have a value. Truth wakes us up, Waking up, freeing up, realising (makes real) confirms truth. Views do not. Facts do not. This is the relationship to truth in Dharma teaching. This is worth seeing and knowing.
The uncontracted and uncontactable have no bearing on the persona of the human being. Owing to sufficient preparation, we find a receptivity without interest in sudden or gradual changes. There is no concern where life is going. Being uncontractable around self-other interest reveals a liberation, an absence of being contracted. If you are religious, you might call the uncontracted finding God, nirvana or waking up. The Buddha used more than 100 words for the ultimate. He said we turn mindfulness, our practice away from ourselves and the world towards the deathless or timeless -two concepts for the uncontracted.
Past present and future contract each other revealing the limitations of each one. A liberated sense has an extraordinary potential to put our small life into a proper perspective. I am neither important nor am I unimportant. Both views revealing themselves in the reactive state by building ourselves up or putting ourselves down. We might believe we are good enough or not good enough. These views are unhealthy. As you listen right now, it may sound theoretical. You listen and it may sound abstract. The words may seem to fly over the top of your head or land in the brain cells. This is unfortunate.
The Distinction of Truth and Views
Nevertheless, truth remains distinct from views as truth brings about extraordinary freedom. When speaking of truth, the touch of truth genuinely dissolves the walls of limtation. Truth wakes us up offering a genuinely liberating realisation. This is precious. We may not notice any single change in our whole being. Seeing and knowing truth does not fall into a theory. This is not abstract.
Yet truth does not require any experience. Seeing and knowing truth does not require any reaction of the mind. nor is it abiding in not knowing. Out potential does not require an event in our being to confirm the nature of truth.
A seeing and knowing does not depend upon feelings and thoughts. Without such dependency, or any special environment, you experience the sense of wellbeing. There is nothing that you want from life. You are not making any demands on yourself. You’re not living in the spell of yesterday, today or tomorrow.
Life lacks the power to grab you and hold onto you. Everyday life dwells in a proper perspective. Most significantly of all there is a freedom not dependent on the human condition, not confined to birth, death or events in between.