Wednesday, September 29, 2010

True Gnosis of Truth

“They who imagine truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, never arrive at truth, but follow vain desires.
They who know truth in truth, and untruth in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires.” ……..Dhammapada 1:11-12

The Buddha issues a warning to his followers in these words as to how we easily get trapped into defining a value system in our lives. An example is what we call a ‘white lie’. We deem it harmless to pay a complement to someone by making a false statement but the definition of what we say being harmless is a very personal judgement, driven by the ego, and can have severe repercussion if the recipient of the complement analyses the context of this particular situation and comes to know that there is no truth in the statement that has been just made. Seeing truth in untruth is an imagination and is the product of a conditioned mind.

This is the reason that unless, in our egoless consciousness, we are sure that we know and act in truthfulness, we cannot arrive at the truth. But this involves a complex process. The distinction and categorization of ‘truth’ and ‘untruth’ are grounded in the ego. As consciousness descends from a pure state into the carnal ambience, a duality takes place in the perception of nature of reality. Our absolute true nature, with all its attached divine attributes, is buried under a sheath of amnesia induced by our material nature. The ‘I’ separates itself from the undivided whole.
Human consciousness is modified form our pre-natal evolutionary imprints as well as by the nurturing that we undergo from childhood to maturity. This world is rooted in a materialistic dimension which is far removed from reality and the true purpose of human existence. There are two value systems that are given to us; one which is based on sensory comforts and pleasure and the other which is based on elevation of our consciousness to the greater purpose in life, a spiritual value system which has been defined by various spiritual masters and traditions.

Most religious traditions while promoting the deeper value system needed for spiritual empowerment have got trapped in vain desires which are driven by their structural nature and adhere to the faith and canonical route in dispensing the gnosis of ‘truth’. The limitation of human reasoning and perception has to be overcome by faith and belief in a deeper value. But mere belief in no way establishes ‘truth’.

Nietzsche, writing in his famous work ‘Genealogy of Morals’ says;

“We ‘men of knowledge’ have gradually come to mistrust believers of all kinds; our mistrust has gradually brought us to make inferences the reverse of those of former days: wherever the strength of a faith is very prominently displayed, we infer a certain weakness of demonstrability, even the improbability of what is believed. We, too, do not deny that faith “makes blessed”: that is precisely why we deny that faith proves anything — a strong faith that makes blessed raises suspicion against that which is believed; it does not establish ‘truth,’ it establishes a certain probability — of deception.”

By social, cultural and psychological agencies truth can not be dispensed. It is only within the experiential realm of one’s being, through an intuitive path; one can discern the ‘truth’ from the ‘untruth’

To ‘know’ the truth in truth, means exactly this and there is no other arena where one can come to the knowledge of truth except in truth itself. This is a process of integration at the highest level but involves many small steps including the teachings and recommended practices of the great master, Gautama Buddha.

This situation has been captured in all simplicity by these verses of Dhammapada.

Love to you all


  1. They who know truth in truth, and untruth in untruth, arrive at truth, and follow true desires.” is very good saying, we can follow it but should never make a statement in situations where we have to endorse an untruth.Is it possible in our life?

  2. EMPTY, Thanks for your feedback.
    Endorsing an untruth is a very relative statement as in social relationships and environments, the cultural context determines what is the untruth.
    We should never endorse what our inner conscience dictates to be untrue.

  3. I believe being truthful starts with the self. Let's forget about the white lies that we exchange in the society - these days they are the rule, rather than the exception. We tell ourselves so many lies - huge and trivial - every day.
    Like everything else Buddha teaches, this path also starts when we start reconciling the lies and contradictions within.

  4. Anand, thank you for your insightful comment which is very valid but I did not understand what you mean when you say "this path also starts when we start reconciling the lies and contradictions within".

  5. EMPTY posed the question how realistic it would be to follow the path of Buddha in our day-to-day lives. I believe the answer comes from following it within, rather than seeking to enforce it in our social life, which is influenced by so many variables not in our control.
    The lies and contradictions part comes from the fact that many times when we are not able to follow the perceived honest path (due to circumstances referred to above), we tend to convince ourselves that what we do is correct. I believe that being aware of such contradictions and accepting them will be the start to eliminating them.

  6. Anand,
    Very true in our day to day living we go through the action of our consciousness which is modified by our evolutionary traits, social-cultural upbringing etc.,
    As you say the awareness of our condition is the beginning of the spiritual path.
    Thank you for your sharing!