Absolute

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Absolute (Tib. དོན་དམ་, döndam; Wyl. don dam), or absolute truth (Tib. döndam denpa) — everything has an absolute and a relative aspect: the absolute or ultimate is the inherent nature of everything, how things really are; the conventional or relative is how things appear. In the teachings, these are known as ‘the two truths’, but they are not to be understood as two separate dimensions, rather as two aspects of a single reality.

Subdivisions

Patrul Rinpoche writes[1]:

In its essence, [the absolute] is without any divisions, but still it is possible to speak of ‘divisions’ according to whether or not this reality has been realized. Thus, there are divisions into

  • the absolute which is the basic nature itself and
  • the absolute which is the realization (or ‘making evident’) of this basic nature.

Then again, there is the division into

  • the absolute that is clarified[2] through study and reflection and
  • the absolute that is experienced through meditation practice;

or

  • the absolute that is conceptually inferred by ordinary beings versus
  • the absolute that is experienced directly by noble beings.

There is also a division into

  • the conceptual absolute (namdrangpé döndam) and
  • the absolute that is beyond conceptualization (namdrang mayinpé döndam).

Notes & References

  1. An Instruction on the View of the Mahayana Clarifying the Two Truths by Patrul Rinpoche
  2. Literally “about which misconceptions are eliminated.”