16. Citta (iii) The First Principle of Truth

In this post, we discuss the relationship between Citta and truth.

What is a truth?

On dictionary.com, the three top definitions of “truth” are: “the true or actual state of a matter,” “conformity with fact or reality, and “a verified or indisputable fact. However, if one looks up the definitions of “actual,“fact, and “verify, they are all circularly defined by one another. Indeed, like reality discussed earlier, “truth has no intrinsic meaning.  

However, Buddha explains why that is the case in his doctrine of the Two Truths. Buddha teaches that there are two kinds of truths.

Two Truths (Sanskrit=Satyadvaya; Chinese=二諦), according to The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, is “”the two truths, viz. “ultimate truth and “conventional truth.” “The two truths are central terms in the Buddhist philosophy of categorizing the phenomena of the universe, and “regardless of the school, the truths are presumed to be exhaustive, with everything that exists, that is, all dharmas, falling into one of the two categories.”

By defining the Two Truths “to be exhaustive, with everything that exists, that is, all dharmas, falling into one of the two categories, Buddha makes it clear that truths are mental because all phenomena are “Nothing but Mentality. What one deems to be true depends on what one thinks.

The definitions of the conventional and the Ultimate Truth are:

1) Samvrtisatya (Chinese=俗諦), according to The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, is “in Buddhist Sanskrit, “conventional truth, or “relative truth. It is “generally understood to refer to objects of ordinary experience that involve misperceptions tainted by ignorance, in distinction to the true or ultimate nature of those objects, which are the ultimate truths. It is important to note that conventional truths, although misperceived, nonetheless exist conventionally or have conventional utility.”

By teaching samvrtisatya to be “generally understood to refer to objects of ordinary experience, Buddha makes it clear that samvrtisatya applies to our universe since the universe is “how things are experienced by us. Furthermore, by teaching that samvrtisatya is “conventional or “relative, Buddha makes it clear that secular truths are traditional or relative. Truths are subject to change and relative to one another over time and space.

In other words, secular truths are just personal or societal opinions. Once opinions change, the “trueness of secular truths changes with them. In a world where mentality never stops fluctuating, opinions can indeed change at times.   

2) Ultimate Truth/Absolute truth, also known as the First Principle of Truth (Sanskrit=paramarthasatya; Chinese=真諦), according to The Princeton Dictionary on Buddhism, “a number of etymologies are provided in the commentarial literature, based on the literal meaning of paramarthasatya as “highest-object. Thus, an ultimate truth is a highest-object truth because it is the object of wisdom (prajna), the highest form of consciousness.

Contrary to the world humans experience, the “truthiness of Citta can never change since it is quiescent. Enlightened and luminous, Citta is the “object of wisdom because it “encompasses all object of knowledge that nature offers. Once people can understand “all objects of knowledge through the profound practice of the perfection of wisdom, they gain the highest prajna, known as Prajnaparamita, as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara did.

To comprehend why Citta is also known as the First Principle of Truth, one must first understand that, in Buddhism, “principle has a similar meaning to “theory in science.

Like the theoretical scientific Theory of Everything in science, that fully explains and links together all aspects of the universe, Citta, as mentality, can be the First Principle of Truth in Buddhism because mentality can fully explain Buddha’s teachings on “how things stand in themselves in nature because they are “Nothing but Mentality.” For this reason, mentality and principle mentality are exchangeable.   

However, while the Theory of Everything is theoretical, mentality is a verifiable phenomenon. With everything in Buddha’s universe being either quiescent or fluctuating, everything can be explained as either mentality fluctuating or not.

Indeed, Buddhism is uniquely the only logically consistent, self-sufficient education that can be independently verified because it starts with an independently verifiable fundamental ground truth. Of course, the uniqueness of Buddhism comes from its epistemology.

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