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16 January, 2010

WHAT IS THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH? SO HELP ME GOD, I'M NOT REALLY SURE

How can you find truth when you don't really know the truth about "truth" itself?  A good question, right?

I set out recently to find the definitive meaning of truth.   It has been a difficult, even frustrating, exercise in contradictions.  Is truth subjective or objective?  Is it relative or absolute?  Is truth a hard fact that cannot be refuted, or is it merely something that the majority agrees upon?

Truth has been a topic of discussion in its own right for thousands of years.  It is one of the central subjects in philosophy and one of the largest, and as such is beyond my limited ability to define.  I spent countless hours studying the major theorists of truth and trying to understand truth in logic.  In the end I am left clinging to my original theory that truth is, on one hand, what you want to believe and, on the other, not always what you want to believe.

When you stop to think about it, who was ever appointed as the keeper, the custodian, the true dispenser of God's illimitable truth?  Many indeed are moved and so called to be teachers of truth; but the true teacher will never stand as the interpreter of truth for another.  The true teacher is one whose endeavor is to bring the one being taught to a true knowledge of self and hence of their own interior powers, that they might become their own interpreter.

From Eastern literature comes the fable of a frog.  The frog lived in a water well from which he had never strayed.  One day he had a visit from another frog whose home was in the sea.  Once in the well, the visitor was greeted with a series of questions:  "Who are you?  Where did you come from?  Where do you live?"

"I am your long-lost cousin and my home is in the sea," was the prompt answer.

"The sea?  What is that?  Where is that?" asked the host frog in the well. "It is a very large body of water and not far away," came the quick response.

"How big is your sea?"  "Oh, very big."

"As big as this?" asked the well frog, pointing to a little stone lying nearby.  "Oh, much bigger," he was told.

"How much bigger, then?" 

"Why the sea in which I live is bigger than your entire well, in fact it would make millions of wells such as yours."

"The well frog was not impressed.  "Nonsense, nonsense; you are a deceiver and a falsifier.  Get out of my well.  I want nothing to do with any such frogs as you."

The frog in the well was living in his own truth.  He was not prepared to accept the visitor frog's truth that may well have set him free of the confines of the well.

Closing one's self for whatever reason to potential truth is self-damaging.  There is also danger in arrested growth caused by taking all things for granted, without proving them for one's self merely because they come from a particular source.  This is caused by one's always looking without instead of being true to the light within, and carefully tending to it so that it may give an ever-clearer light.

With the brave and intrepid Walt Whitman(*), we should all be able to say: 
"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."

On reflection, it may be wrong to expect certainties in life.  Truth in the end, may well be simply what the voice within tells you. We should never stop listening to that inner voice and never lose sight of the accompanying light within.

I wish I could be more definitive.
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(*) WALT WHITMAN, 1819-1892, was a controversial and influencial American poet, essayist and humanist.

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