Conventional truth and ultimate truth

Through the development of right understanding we shall know what is real and what is not real. There are two kinds of truths:
conventional truth (sammutti sacca)
ultimate truth (paramattha sacca)
 
 
Conventional truth are people, soul, body, animal, tree or chair, all the
 
things we have been familiar with throughout our life, all the things we take
 
for granted. Before we listened to the Dhamma and studied it we only knew
 
about the conventional truth and we took it for real. When there is no right
 
understanding one thinks that conventional truth is the only truth. Through
 
the Dhamma we learn that conventional truth is not real in the absolute or
 
ultimate sense. This does not mean that we should deny conventional truth
 
and that we should avoid thinking of concepts. Concepts and ideas are in
 
our ordinary language expressed by conventional terms and we need these
 
to make ourselves understood. We cannot help thinking of concepts, it is
 
conditioned. We all think of concepts but there can be more understanding
 
of what is real and what is not real.
 
 
Namas, mental phenomena, and rupas, physical phenomena, are ultimate
 
realities, paramattha dhammas. They are different from concepts and ideas.
 
They can be directly experienced, one at a time, when they appear through
 
their appropriate doorways. Seeing, for example, is a reality in the ultimate
 
sense. It can be experienced by everybody who has eyesense; it has its
 
own unalterable characteristic and there is no need to name it “seeing” in
 
order to experience it. It is real for everybody. Anger is a reality; it has its
 
own unalterable characteristic and it can be experienced by everybody
 
when it appears, without the need to name it anger. Heat is a reality; it has
 
its own unalterable characteristic and it can be experienced when it appears
 
through the bodysense without the need to name it “heat”. Seeing, anger or
 
heat are not concepts, we do not have to use any names in order to know
 
them; they can be experienced when they appear, one at a time. Realities
 
have each their own characteristic, their own function and their own
 
manifestation, they are the same to all people. Paramattha dhammas are
 
true for everybody and they can be directly experienced through one of the
 
senses and through the mind-door. 
 
 
In the beginning it is difficult to know the difference between concepts
 
(conventional truth) and realities (ultimate truth). When we, for example,
 
look at  a flower and we like it, what are the realities? Usually we are only
 
interested in the people and things we perceive, in concepts, and we are
 
ignorant of realities. When we like a flower, there is pleasant feeling, but
 
there are also other realities besides pleasant feeling. It seems that seeing
 
and thinking of a flower with pleasure occur at the same time but this is not
 
so. Seeing experiences visible object, not a flower. We don’t have to call
 
what is visible “visible object” or “colour”, we don’t have to give it any name,
 
but there is a reality that can be experienced through the eyesense. We can
 
verify the truth at this moment, while there is seeing. This will lead to more
 
understanding of what seeing is and to detachment from the idea of a self.
 
Seeing is different from thinking of something, but if there were no seeing
 
we could not think of things and people.Thinking is conditioned by seeing.
 
There are different namas which each perform their own function and which
 
are not self. When we look at a flower we take the flower for something
 
which lasts, but in reality there is no flower which lasts. When we pick it
 
there are different realities appearing through the bodysense; hardness, for
 
example, may appear. When we smell its scent, there is only odour
 
appearing through the nose. We are not used to knowing different objects,
 
one at a time, through different doorways, but this is the only way to know
 
the truth. Because of wrong view there are always  people and things in our
 
life which seem to last. We take the unreal for real, we are living in a dream.
 
 
We think of people and things. We should not avoid thinking of them, but we
 
can have less misunderstandings about realities and concepts. Nama and
 
rupa are not imaginary, they are real. We do not have to name them nama
 
and rupa in order to distinguish them from each other.
 
 

Topic 221