Are the positive qualities of enlightenment ultimate or conventional realities?

These are

permanence, bliss, personality, purity.

If they are ultimately the case, can they be directly seen?

  • Do you mean "are they ultimate truths?" or do you mean "do they exist ultimately?" May 10, 2016 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


Enlightened qualities are ultimate. One's mind is innately ultimate ie. enlightened.

A highly achieved buddhist practitioner often likens the enlightened mind with the clear blue sky.

Often clouds (defilements) obscure the clear blue sky and the clear sky cannot be seen. In other words, without the clouds, the clear blue sky (the ultimate) can be seen.


'Ultimate realities' (paramattha dhamma) in original Pali Buddhism means things that are always true. For example, that for suffering to occur, there must be craving & attachment as causes, is an ultimate reality. Suffering cannot occur without craving & attachment.

Conversely, the general truth that good karma leads to good results & bad karma leads to bad results is not an ultimate reality because this is not always the case. For example, good karma (eg. loving one's family) had lead to suffering (eg. if your family die) & bad karma (eg. hurting another person) can lead to enlightenment (since one learns to never perform that action again).

Convention realities can also refer to ideas such as 'man', 'woman', 'hot', 'cold', 'American', 'Chinese', etc, which are not always 100% or inherently true or fixed.

Therefore, full enlightenment (rather than partial enlightenment) is always permanent, blissful & pure for the entire lifetime of an enlightened being. This is an ultimate truth, which, naturally, can be directly seen by the fully enlightened being.

As for 'personality' or 'self', this is not an ultimate reality in Buddhism.

However, if 'personality' is taken to mean 'character' or 'mental qualities', yes, the virtuous & enlightened character of a fully enlightened being will have a permanent quality.

When the Buddha was old, it is reported he said:

I am now old, aged, burdened with years, advanced in life and come to the last stage: my years have turned eighty... Sariputta, even if you have to carry me about on a bed, still there will be no change in the lucidity of the Tathagata's wisdom.


  • in what way is full enlightenment not a self if it is permanent?
    – user2512
    May 10, 2016 at 11:03
  • why would enlightenment be a 'self'? since when was 'permanence' as 'self'? imagine if the universe or space was permanent? would the universe or space be a 'self'? the word 'self' refers to ideas of "I", "me" & "mine". enlightenment, nirvana, space, the universe, a block of long lasting concrete, do not have any ideas of "I", "me" & "mine". there was once an Indian logician named Nargajuna, who equated 'sunnata' with 'conditionality'. Nargajuna was not the Buddha. The Buddha was not Nargajuna. The Buddha taught nirvana was unconditioned, permanent & not-self. May 10, 2016 at 11:35
  • i dunno, all those terms (i me and mine) sound like totally viable conventional designators, which, if picking out something permanent, would be very much like a "self". so, those terms, as much as what they designate, seem like they break down under scrutiny, at least without supporting them with a further ontological quality, like permanence
    – user2512
    May 10, 2016 at 14:07
  • What you are posting is not related to Buddhism, which is about suffering & the end of suffering. The unconditioned state, empty of craving & self-view, is permanent but is not a 'self'. How can something, 100% devoid of 'self', be a 'self'? 'Not-self' is not actually dependent on impermanence. The physical body has no self in it. The physical body, when seen as merely the physical body, is empty of self. That is why it was taught 'form is void; void is form'. Impermanence may demonstrate 'not-self' but this is just a beginners introduction. The only self that exists is a mental construction. May 10, 2016 at 16:41
  • 1
    ok, millions of buddhists are practicing a fake religion
    – user2512
    May 12, 2016 at 7:10

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