What is “Truth”? 


Nichiren Buddhism distinguishes between 2 kinds of truths: Relative and Absolute:


  1.      Relative truth is that which is valid according to changing circumstances.

  2.      Absolute truth is that which is valid at all circumstances in time and space.


In his Orally Transmitted Teachings “Introduction” chapter: seven important points, Nichiren explains what is relative and what is absolute though the example of the phenomenon of “fire” :

  1.     it is true that “fire” can be used as in a burning torch to produce light that can be beneficial at night. This is a relative fact, because fire will not produce this effect at daylight, where everything is already visible.

  2.     but “fire” will burn the matter it consumes - and this is true, whether it is day or night.  This is a truth that Nichiren calls Unchanging. It does not change with occurring circumstances.


The concept of Universal Truth in Buddhism


The words Universal, Absolute and Ultimate, imply an observation that is valid at all times, past, present and future, as well as in any place.  An observation that is occurring everywhere and at all times - is beyond the conditioning of time and space, and because it is not relative to anything, then it is universal. 


Of the truths that are unchanging (or universal and absolute) Nichiren Buddhism refers to the three observations of:


Impermanence, Interconnectedness and Order (or Law)


1/    Impermanence: All things and phenomena undergo change.  Although various phenomena repeat in time, but they do not last in duration.  This is the truth of impermanence, referred to also by the truth of “temporary existence”.


2/    Interconnectedness: All things are interconnected and dependent on each other through relationships.  Nothing can claim an isolated separate identity - because everything is dependent on other things, which are also dependent... etc..   This observation is based on the concept of Dependent Origination. (It is also referred to by Sunyata or the field of Non-substantiality).  Using the word “interconnectedness”, however, is easier to refer to the basic essence of this truth.


3/     The Law (of Cause and Effect):   The world is not random, it manifests certain order or laws of nature and patterns in relationships.  The dynamism of changes is not arbitrary and connections of phenomena are not chaotic.  Events occur in consistent patterns of causes, conditions and effects.  The Law of Cause and Effect is the bond of all what exists.


The above presentation of the Three Truths (Impermanence, Interconnectedness, and Order or Law) is based on the concept of the Three Truths: three truths | Dictionary of Buddhism | Nichiren Buddhism Library


How do we perceive the truth of an object?


In order to identify an object, we use the five senses to discern its physical features.  It is undeniable that any object or phenomena must have traces through which the object is detected.  The truth of the physical existence is referred to in Buddhist terms as the truth of Temporary Existence.


Another important aspect of existence is the mental or inner nature of an observed object.  It is not possible to detect the mental nature by the five senses.  This marks the difference between the Physical and Nonphysical aspect of existence.  In Buddhist terms, the inner nature (or mental aspect) is a field of information related to the history and relations of the object - and it is called the field of Non-substantiality (Sunyata).  In this field of information there is no matter to be detected, no substance existing on its own - it is empty of matter (and it is usually called Emptiness or Void, but it is filled with vibrant imagery and information about its potentiality).


The truth of the Physical aspect, and the truth of the Mental aspect were always debated in philosophy and religions, and are viewed as dualistic and separate in nonBuddhist views.  Nichiren Buddhism regards the integration of the Physical and Mental - as a truth in itself, called the MiddleWay. 


The MiddleWay of existence is the fusion of both truths of physical and mental.  This fusion is evident in the entity of a living being, having both aspects of body and mind in the same time. This is why the Middle Way truth is called the “Entity” of existence. 


The MiddleWay then is the bond that fuses the physical and mental into one entity, and this is the Law of Cause and Effect. In Nichiren Buddhism, this power that is operative at the essence of all existence is called the Mystic Law: MyohoRengeKyo.


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Author: Safwan Darshams


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