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Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 59 T HERE ARE TWO KINDS of truth, conven- tional truth and absolute truth, but they are not opposites. They are part of a continuum. There is a classic Buddhist gatha: All formations are impermanent. They are subject to birth and death. But remove the notions of birth and death, and this silence is called great joy. This beautiful poem has only twenty-six words, but it sums up all of the Buddha’s teaching. It is one of the great- est poems of humanity. If you are a composer, please put it to music and make it into a song. The last two lines should sound like thundering silence, the silencing of all specula- tion, of all philosophies, of all notions and ideas. The gatha begins in the realm of conventional truth and ends in the realm of absolute truth. The first line describes real- ity as we usually perceive it. “All formations are impermanent.” This is something concrete that we notice as soon as we start paying attention. The five elements that make up our sense of personhood—form, feelings, perceptions, mental forma- tions, and consciousness—all are flowing and changing day SEPT 58-65.indd 59 SEPT 58-65.indd 59 6/25/07 5:04:55 PM 6/25/07 5:04:55 PM