From Buddha-Nature

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Sanskrit Noun


ultimate truth

Basic Meaning

"Ultimate truth" or "absolute truth"; the reality of things as they truly are.

Simplified English Usage

"There is no higher truth to be seen. The mind that sees that reality experiences truth as it is. Thus it is called "ultimate truth," the essential mode of existence. For all other truths, their mode of appearance and their essential mode of existence are incongruent. Thus, they are called deceptive and superficial." - The 14th Dalai Lama, Transcendent Wisdom (1988)

Read It in the Scriptures

Relative and ultimate,

These the two truths are declared to be.
The ultimate is not within the reach of intellect,

For intellect is said to be the relative.
~ The Way of the Bodhisattva, Padmakara Translation Group, 2008, page 229
On this topic
Term Variations
Key Term paramārthasatya
Topic Variation paramārthasatya
Tibetan དོན་དམ་བདེན་པ་  ( dön dam denpa)
Wylie Tibetan Transliteration don dam bden pa  ( dön dam denpa)
Devanagari Sanskrit परमार्थसत्य
Romanized Sanskrit paramārthasatya
Chinese 第一義諦
Chinese Pinyin zhendì
Japanese Transliteration shintai
Buddha-nature Site Standard English ultimate truth
Karl Brunnhölzl's English Term ultimate reality
Richard Barron's English Term ultimate truth
Jeffrey Hopkin's English Term ultimate truth
Dan Martin's English Term ultimate truth
Gyurme Dorje's English Term ultimate truth
Ives Waldo's English Term ultimate truth
Alternate Spellings paramārtha-satya
Term Information
Usage Example Sanskrit:
saṃvṛtiḥ paramārthaś ca satyadvayam idaṃ matam
buddher agocaras tattvaṃ buddhiḥ saṃvṛtir ucyate
Śāntideva, Bodhicaryāvatāra 9.2


བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་པའི་སྤྱོད་པ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་ 9.2
Source Language Sanskrit
Basic Meaning "Ultimate truth" or "absolute truth"; the reality of things as they truly are.
Related Terms saṃvṛtisatya
Term Type Noun
Tshig mdzod Chen mo bden pa gnyis kyi ya gyal zhig ste/ bye brag smra bas gang zhig bcom pa'am blos cha shas so sor bsal ba na rang 'dzin gyi blo 'dor du mi rung ba'i chos cha med gnyis dang/ mdo sde pas sgra rtog gis btags par ma ltos par rang gi sdod lugs kyi ngos nas rigs pas dpyad bzod du grub pa'i chos rang mtshan dang/ sems tsam pas don dam dpyod byed kyi rig shes tshad mas rnyed don yongs grub kyi chos/ dbu ma pas rang mngon sum du rtogs pa'i mngon sum tshad mas rang nyid gnyis snang nub pa'i tshul gyis rtogs par bya ba gnas lugs stong pa nyid la 'dod pa bcas 'dod lugs mi 'dra ba bzhi yod/
Grammatical / Etymological Analysis The Sanskrit for "ultimate truth," paramārthasatya, is etymologized three ways within identifying parama as "highest" or "ultimate," artha as "object," and satya as "truth." In the first way, parama (highest, ultimate) refers to a consciousness of meditative equipoise directly realizing emptiness; artha (object) refers to the object of that consciousness, emptiness; and satya (truth) also refers to emptiness in that in direct perception emptiness appears the way it exists; that is, there is no discrepancy between the mode of appearance and the mode of being. In this interpretation, a paramārthasatya is a "truth-that-is-an-object-of-the-highest-consciousness."

In the second way, both parama (highest, ultimate) and artha (object) refer to a consciousness of meditative equipoise directly realizing emptiness in that, in the broadest meaning of "object," both objects and subjects are objects, and a consciousness of meditative equipoise directly realizing emptiness is the highest consciousness and thus highest object; satya (truth), as before, refers to emptiness. In this second interpretation, a paramārthasatya is an emptiness that exists the way it appears to a highest consciousness, a "truth-of-a-highest-object."

In the third etymology, all three parts refer to emptiness in that an emptiness is the highest (the ultimate) and is also an object and a truth, a "truth-that-is-the-highest-object." See Donald S. Lopez Jr., A Study of Svātantrika, (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1986), 314–315. Chandrakīrti, the chief Consequentialist, favors the third etymology in his Clear Words; See Jang-ḡya's Presentation of Tenets, 467.18. (Jeffrey Hopkins, Reflections on Reality: The Three Natures and Non-Natures in the Mind-Only School [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006], 267, note c.)