Paramārtha (ultimate truth)

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Paramārtha (T. don dam pa དོན་དམ་པ་) - the highest or whole truth; spiritual knowledge; the way things are.

The Princeton Dictionary states:

The term paramārtha is variously defined in the Buddhist philosophical schools but refers in general to phenomena that do not appear falsely when directly perceived and that are the objects of wisdom, that is, those dharmas the understanding of which leads to liberation. Thus, Buddhist philosophical schools do not speak simply of a single “ultimate truth” but of ultimate truths. For example, according to Vaibhāṣika school of Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma, an ultimate truth is anything that cannot be broken into parts, such as particles or atoms (paramāṇu), and persists only for the shortest unit of time, an instant (kṣaṇa). The term paramārtha is especially associated with the Madhyamaka school, where the ultimate truth is emptiness (śūnyatā); the object qualified by emptiness is a conventional truth (saṃvṛtisatya).[1]

Hopkins (1992) states:

An equivalent of ultimate truth (don dam bden pa, paramArthasatya) so called because it is the object of the activity of Superiors' exalted wisdom of meditative equipoise; "highest" (dam pa, parama) is taken as the exalted wisdom of uncontaminated meditative equipoise, and "object" (don, artha) is taken as the thusness, or emptiness, that is the object of that exalted wisdom, whereby thusness is called the truth that is the object of the highest [wisdom] (dam pa'i don, paramasya artha-satya). In another interpretation, that wisdom itself is called the highest object (don dam pa, parama-artha), since it is both highest and object; emptiness is called the truth of the highest object (don dam pa'i bden pa, parama-arthasya satya).[2]

Related terms


  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Paramārthasatya.
  2. Internet-icon.svg དོན་དམ་པ་, Christian-Steinert Dictionary


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