ABSOLUTE TRUTH – By Master Shen Yen

Master Sheng Yen


In the past, there was a Ch’an master who had three disciples. One day, two of them got into a heated argument. One of them went to the Master, stated his case and asked if he was right or not. The Master replied: “Yes, you are right.” The monk then went back outside and told the other two monks. The other monk who had participated in the argument didn’t believe him and went to see the Master himself. After stating his argument, the Master told him that he was correct. Upon hearing this the third monk was confused, thinking it’s impossible that both monks are right. Thereupon, he also went to see the Master and asked: “Isn’t one right and the other wrong.” The Master replied: “Yes, you are right.” The three monks then went to see the master to ask how it was possible for all three of them to be right. Had he made a mistake? No, all of them had been right.

This story illustrates that it is meaningless to get into any kind of argument. In this world, there is no absolute truth. From the Buddhist point of view everything in the world is impermanent and conditioned and therefore can only be considered from a comparative or relative point of view. When we judge one thing to be better than another we always do so from a relative or comparative standpoint. The Enlightened mind, which sees things as they really are, does not attach to any particular thing as being the absolute truth nor does it reject any particular thing as not being the absolute truth.