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The Three Truths

I was recently in Australia and heard an aboriginal D'harawal people's dreaming story that discussed what are known to them as the Three Truths.  Gawaian Bodkins-Andrews defined the Three Truths as:

  • Midan Yewing:  What you see
  • Barkolo Yewing:  What others see
  • Duragai Yewing:  What is

I find this to be a profound teaching, quite in line with Buddhist teachings on emptiness (shunyata) and nirvana.  We are often captured by what we think we are seeing and then hold it to be the whole truth. We usually go further than this, though, and tell ourselves stories about what is and what has happened, and we make ourselves the hero (or heroic victim) of the story. Yet, what we see is only one part of what is constantly unfolding, and once we label it we take away its vibrancy and vitality. 

Most of us have had the good fortune to realize that what others see can often be very very different from what we saw. If we're lucky, we used those occasions to undermine the certainty of our own position. We probably remained somewhat skeptical that their position was more accurate, because we also have a sense that there is a greater view that could include both views (and other views of which we aren't yet aware). That is, we sense that "what is" must be bigger than our limited views.

What I find to be so profound is that this teaching calls all three of these viewpoints "truths."  What you see, even though it's deeply limited, is still your truth.  What others see is their truth. What is is still another truth.  This teaching does not say that only what is can be the Truth.  This is similar to how Buddhism considers both relative and absolute truths. Absolute truth isn't more "true" than relative truth, even when they may appear to conflict. One goal of training is to learn to hold more than one truth at a time, and to be skeptical of all of our interpretations of them. This is why some Buddhist practices focus on keeping "Don't Know" Mind. Can we remember in each moment that there are more truths than ours, and none of them is as all-encompassing as What Is?

 

Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/Menura_superba_-_Thomas_Davies.jpg

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