Truth, Assumptions, You and Me
Whether it be Mickey Mouse or Gandhi, I look for truth where ever I can find it. Everyone has their version of what is true, and everyone believes that their version is right. If you believe yours to be the absolute truth and that mine is completely wrong, and I believe the opposite, what is true?
Along with truth we hear a lot about honesty, as if the two are the same thing. After thinking about it I have found that there is a difference between truth and honesty. I can tell you something “in all honesty” but that doesn’t make it true. I may firmly with every ounce of my being, believe it to be true, but my belief does not make it so.
I have finally realized that for something to be a truth it must be inherently so, without emotion or bias. When it is true it can stand on its own. Truth doesn’t need props, explanations or a fancy hairstyle. When we realize the truth of something, we find there is no other way to see it. It is important to keep in mind that just because something is true doesn’t mean we will like it. Truth doesn’t really care it you like it or not.
To find and understand what is true we have to eliminate all assumptions and test it as we would gold. A golden block is placed in front of you and with all sincerity you are assured that it is pure gold. From all outward appearances it looks like gold. You pick it up and it feels heavy in your hands. You turn it over, scratch the surface a bit, examining it closely. Sure enough, it looks and feels like gold. After this brief study you conclude that it must be gold. You have determined that this is indeed the truth of the block.
The wonderful thing about truth is that it does not fear being closely scrutinized. Buddhist teachings say that if something is true, the closer you look at and examine it the truer it will become. You begin to question your belief in the goldness of your block and are determined to know the truth of it. The only way to discover this is to peel away all of its perceived layers. You examine it with every test available, a magnet or with acid, you drill into and melt it. Once you are assured that there is no other metal mixed in, that it is not merely gold-plated lead or any of the other numerous ways it could deceive you, only then you will know that it is purely gold.
We are bombarded constantly with so-called truths, in an effort to steer us toward a point of view, to get us to feel a certain way, vote for a politician or purchase a product. The talking heads of media spew their network’s version of truth, with hair on fire they daily signal the end of the world as we know it if we don’t fall in line with their version of what is true. They have become masters of manipulating us through our emotions, which we seem all too willing to go along with. They present quite the juxtaposition, a perky bright-eyed news reader talking about a horrific act and followed by the weather. Then there is the trusted grandfather type whose sincerity of voice and gravitas of presence win us over every time. How are we supposed to feel? No need to ask, give them just a moment and you will be told how to feel. Not think mind you, but feel, they really don’t want you to think. It seems that some in their arrogance view us too stupid to think for ourselves, so therefore it is up to them to do it for us.
The media, whether it be advertising or politics, are masters at this. They have been studying human behavior and how to influence it since man first painted on cave walls. They hook our attention with the horrific and assign us an emotion. Over the years the public has become more than a bit desensitized to this tactic so of course they have had to evolve. Choices were made and instead of toning it down they chose to sensationalize over civility. We’ve heard it all before from snow flurries to black ice; if you go outside, you are going to die so please stay off the roads.
Imagery that was once seen as to graphically horrific, deplorable or lewd is now the norm. Deception plays on our gullibility. We have all seen the well-known news anchor kneeling in water to make it appear he was over his waist in flood waters, or another one hanging on to a sign post for dear life in hurricane force winds, only to see a couple stroll down the road behind him. What is disturbing is our reaction to these falsehoods. Many of us continue to listen to these people and trust that they are telling us the truth.
Questions of truth are obviously not confined to politicians and the media. They arise from the day-to-day dealings with your teenager, to the truth about God. Just as a side note. It has been known for endless generations that a teenager will lie to you. Just sayin’. Trust but verify. One of the most important things to remember about truth is that it is completely indifferent to right and wrong. What is true is true, it doesn’t matter if you like it or agree with it.
The truth of cause and effect appears to be undeniable; because you smashed it with a hammer your thumb hurts. Carry that over to, because we dumped chemicals in a river the fish died. Every action of ours as individuals or collectively as a community on up to nationally and globally will produce a result. Acting in haste through emotion based on assumptions, does not turn out very well. Our not having a clear understanding of a cause always seems to result in our not having a clue about the effect of our actions. I wonder how many individual battles or wars have been fought over our not understanding the truth of a matter. We learned all of this as children when taught to think before we acted.
Looking at this amazing world in which we live the truth of cause and effect is everywhere, plant a garden and tend to it properly you are rewarded with food for the table. The examples are endless from the cosmic birth of a star to Mom and Dad made love and here we are. It doesn’t take long for one to realize that our lives and our world are completely governed by the wheels of cause and effect. When we think about the condition the world is in today with this in mind, it is very easy to see how we got ourselves into the apparent mess we are in.
The wonderful thing is that we can use the truth of cause and effect to change our lives and our world. We do it in small ways with our home, with family and then extend it outward to our community. When our actions are motivated by love and compassion for all others, including the many creatures that share the earth with us, as well as the earth itself, the result can only be one of beauty and love. Yes, there are many who are motivated by greed and lust for power; that’s ok, we must love and have compassion for them as well. In my heart I believe there are many more of us than there are of them.
In the end you already knew all of this. Nothing that you’ve read here is new. So, this begs the question, “Are you living it?” When the aggressive driver cuts you off, do you swear at him or back off and let him in? When the news anchor tries to grab your emotions do you allow it and get angry? If how we act starts with emotion are you aware of yours? When we learn to tame our emotions and have patience through love and compassion, the seeds of anger won’t have a place to grow. If we desire peace, understanding and love in our life, it is up to us to plant the seeds of their cause, mindfully nurture them, and as they ripen share the bounty with others.
William C. Judge 2019