March 6, 2008
Only the ignorant would believe that things exist in the way that they appear. Yet this false appearance of conventional truths does not render them utterly nonexistent. As Nagarjuna says, without conventional truths, the ultimate cannot be known. Indeed, the category of the conventional encompasses all of the salubrious components of the Buddhist path, including the Buddha. The relation between the two truths would then seem to be one between an object (the conventional truth) and its true nature (the ultimate truth). The Heart Sutra famously declares, “Form is empty. Emptiness is form.” Commentators have taken this as an expression of the relation between the two truths. Form, the first of the five aggregates and a conventional truth, is empty. Emptiness, the ultimate reality, is not to be found apart from the objects of ordinary experience; it is the very nature of form.