Absolute And Relative Realities

Posted by Anuj Pandey on Sep 14, 2017
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[A particularly poignant reflection from last night's rich Awakin Circle -- by none other than Yaniv! :)]

I was thinking how the origin of this teaching on emptiness arose at a time when perhaps there was too much of an emphasis on external forms, gods, rituals and so on. Emptiness became a counterbalance.

In that sense, another equally valid way of saying that everything is empty is saying that everything is God. And that also has its own trappings.

That got me thinking if there is another way to frame this. In the juxtaposition between the absolute and the relative, what's another way of how we can describe the absolute without relative-izing it?

We can say that absolute is what is always true, and relative is what is sometimes true and sometimes not. The absolute is what always Is and the relative is what is sometimes.

One of the trappings we keep making in our lives, in subtle and profound ways, is trying to absolutize the relative and relativize the absolute. For instance, when we say, "We must have chai in the morning to realize Truth. It's a must", we absolutize the relative. Or on the flip side, we can say, "We live in a post-truth society. There is no truth. It's just your truth, your own construction of reality. Morality is just a series of ideas that someone developed -- take it if it works for you." That's relativizing the absolute.

That got me thinking of a beautiful analogy made by Paramahansa Yogananda. He said when you go to the movie theater, you see the hero and the villain on the screen but when you look up to see the source, you see the whole film is projected from one point.

That's a wonderful analogy, I think, of the whole path of spirituality and understanding the relative and absolute. When we turn our own perception from the world of light and shadow on the outside, to the inside source where the light projects from, then we might get a better understanding of the boundary between relative and absolute.

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Comments (2)

  • Brinda Govindan wrote ...

    Beautiful analogy--thanks for sharing!

  • Colleen Choi wrote ...

    I could get behind bowing down to chai ;) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel comfort staring at the stars. It reminds me that they are also me, with a different vantage point. When I stare at them (rather, me), I remember where I come from and all of the earthly details seem to fade away.