Journey To Truth…

Over the years, I am, I think, experiencing a transformation from an unquestioning belief about the nature of reality, acquired through systematic process of conditioning and informing by culture and religion, to a stage of rationalist delving into the underlying essence that appears to be too dynamic, like a shifting target receding into the distance, eluding all attempts at grasping it. It is no more believing but seeking, a persistent search for truth, to un-conceal that which is buried below several layers of gross edicts, ritual and dogma. The question, “What is truth?” has reverberated down through history. Probably, India is the only country that carries the dictum, satyam-eva jayate, in Sanskrit, meaning “Truth alone triumphs.”, a mantra from the Mundaka Upanishad. Following the country’s independence, it was adopted as the national motto of India in 1949 and inscribed in script at the base of the national emblem

The pursuit of truth is interestingly captured in an ancient Indian parable that has since been put to rhyme by an American poet, John Godfrey Saxe: “It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined, / Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind) / That each by observation might satisfy his mind”. In the story, each of the six visually challenged travelers takes hold of different parts of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered. The poem concludes: “…And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long, / Each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong, / Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong”. Though each one was describing the truth, the description fell short of the whole truth.

We look at the story from a perspective distance and smile with a degree of condescension, equipped with the knowledge of what an elephant looks like. That someone could make a judgment based on one aspect of truth and apply it to the whole seems absurd or even unbelievable. On deeper thought, can we not, however, recognize ourselves in these six blind men, pleading guilty of the same pattern of thought at many stages in our lives? The world is often seen “through a glass, darkly” and, yet, it appears to be part of human nature to make assumptions and frame observations on incomplete and misleading inputs. Inadequate sensory perceptions and life experiences can lead to limited access and overreaching misinterpretations. Can a person with a limited touch of truth turn that into the one and only version of all reality?

Here I am reminded of a story about a couple who had been married for sixty years. With not many tiffs during their time, their days together apparently fleeted by in happiness and contentment. They shared everything and had no secrets between them, except one. The wife had a box that she kept atop a sideboard, and she told her husband when they were married, that he should never look into the box for the contents. After long years elapsed, the moment came when the husband took the box down and asked if he could finally know what it contained. With wife’s consent, he opened it to discover two doilies and dollars 25000/-. Upon asking his wife as to what it meant, she responded, “When we were married, my mother told me that whenever I was angry with you or whenever you said or acted in a manner I did not like, I should knit a small doily and then talk things through with you”. The husband was moved to tears, marvelling that during sixty years of marriage he had only upset his wife enough for her to knit only two doilies. Feeling highly elated, he took his wife’s hand and said, “That explains the doilies, but what about the $ 25000/-?” His wife smiled sweetly and added, “That is the money I got from selling all the doilies I’ve knitted over the years”.

Not only does the story point to an amicable way of dealing with marital discord but it is also illustrative of the folly of jumping to conclusions aided by insufficient information. So often the truths we tell ourselves are merely fragments of truth and sometimes they are not really the truth at all.

What then is truth?. Is it something that appears in tiny and tantalizing nuggets to the persevering mind to merely relegate it to an unending quest likely to be riddled with frustration? Is it really possible to know the truth? And how should we react to things that contradict truths learnt previously? Some of the greatest thinkers have attempted to answer these questions. The elusive nature of truth has been a favourite theme of renowned poets and storytellers. The intriguing aspect of truth is brought forth in Shakespearean tragedies where the plot often turns on a misunderstanding of an important truth.

Part of the problem in the search for truth is the failure of human wisdom going by the many examples of things that mankind once inferred to be true but were since proven false, ranging from the flatness of the earth, to cerulean blueness of the sky, to numerous planets in their designated orbits, and to most elements constituting the universe still shrouded in mystery. The problem of the origin of man was almost exclusively a theological one until the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, surprisingly, the problem has entered a new phase, the phase of positive science. Human paleontology and prehistory have discovered a series of impressive facts whose volume and quality must be considered transcendental, since these scientific facts lead to the idea that the origin of man is evolutional: the human phylum has its evolutionary origin in other animal phyla; and within the human phylum, humanity has adopted genetically and evolutionally distinct forms until it has arrived at present-day man, the only one until now with which philosophy and theology have concerned themselves.

The undeniable somatic evolution, however, leaves untouched another fact that must be kept in mind and integrated with evolution if we are to explain the phenomenon of humanity completely: the essential irreducibility of the intellective dimension of man to all his sensory animal dimensions. An animal, being merely sentient, always and only reacts to stimuli. There can be, and there are, complexes of stimuli structured as units, often endowed with the character of a sign, and an animal selects from them according to their attunement with the tonic states it feels. Still, it is always a case of mere stimuli. In contrast to this, man with his intelligence, responds to realities. Intelligence is, not the capacity for abstract thought, but the capacity that man has to perceive things and deal with them as realities. Between mere stimulus and reality there is not a difference in degree but in essence. What we are accustomed to call, improperly, “animal intelligence” is the refinement of the animal’s capacity to move among stimuli in a very diversified and fruitful way, but always on the level of giving an adequate response to the situation with which the stimuli present it; and this is why it is not, properly speaking, intelligence. In contrast, man does not always respond to things as stimuli, he also responds to them as realities. The richness of man’s response is of an order essentially distinct from that of an animal’s. This is why his life transcends animal life, and the evolutional lines of man and animal are radically distinct ones which follow divergent directions. An animal, for example, may be completely classified; man cannot. For psycho-biological reasons, man is the only animal that is adaptable to all climates of the universe, that tolerates the most diverse diets. But this is not all. Man is the only animal that is not imprisoned in a specifically determined medium but is constitutively open to the undefined horizon of the real world. Thus, he constructs artifacts he has no need of in the present situation against the time when he might have need of them. He handles things as realities. In a word, while the animal only “settles” his life, man “projects” his life. This is why man’s industry is not found to be fixed or to be mere repetition; rather it denotes an innovation, the product of an invention, of a forward-moving, progressive creation.

The truths people cling to, define the quality of societies as well as individual characters. Where such truths are based on incomplete and inaccurate data, they mostly end up serving selfish ends. Part of the reason for poor judgment arises from human tendency to blur the line between belief and truth, as, too often, belief is confused with truth, thinking that just because something makes sense or is expedient, it must be true. There is also the other extreme of truth not being accepted or rejected because it would require one to change or admit that one was in the wrong. Truth is mostly rejected when it is not in consonance with previous experiences. Another dimension of truth is that it exists beyond belief. What is true is truth, even if no one believes it, and there is such a thing as absolute truth, unassailable, unchangeable truth.  It is different from belief and hope. It is not dependent upon public opinion or popularity. Polls cannot sway it; not even the authority of celebrity endorsement can change it. Over the centuries, many wise men and women—through logic, reason, scientific inquiry, and, yes, through inspiration and intuition—have discovered truth. These discoveries have enriched mankind, improved lives, and inspired joy, wonder, and awe. Even so, the things we once thought we knew are continually being enhanced, modified, or even contradicted by enterprising scholars who seek to understand truth. Such studies can be summarized under different, clarifying heads:

Absolute Truth or Inflexible Reality:
“Absolute truth” is defined as inflexible reality: fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. For example, it is a fixed, invariable, unalterable fact that there are absolutely no square circles and there are absolutely no round squares. In the Vedas, Truth is defined as “unchangeable”, “that which has no distortion”, “that which is beyond distinctions of time, space, and person”, “that which pervades the universe in all its constancy”.

Absolute Truth versus Relativism:
While absolute truth is a logical necessity, there are some religious orientations (atheistic humanists, for example) who argue against the existence of absolute truth. Humanism’s exclusion of God necessitates moral relativism. Humanist John Dewey, co-author and signer of the Humanist Manifesto1, declared, “There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural law or moral absolutes.” Humanists believe one should do, as one feels is right.

Absolute Truth – A Logical Necessity:
It is not possible to logically argue against the existence of absolute truth. To argue against something is to establish that a truth exists. Absolute truth cannot be argued against unless an absolute truth is the basis of one’s argument. Consider a few of the classic arguments and declarations made by those who seek to argue against the existence of absolute truth…

“There are no absolutes.” First of all, the relativist is declaring there are absolutely no absolutes. That itself is an absolute statement which is logically contradictory. If the statement is true, there is, in fact, an absolute – in saying that ‘there are absolutely no absolutes’..

“Truth is relative.” Again, this is an absolute statement implying truth is absolutely relative. Besides positing an absolute, it supposes the statement to be true and “truth is relative.” Everything including that statement would be relative. If a statement is relative, it is not always true. If “truth is relative” is not always true, sometimes truth is not relative. This means there are absolutes, which means the above statement is false. When you follow the logic, relativist arguments will always contradict themselves.

“Who knows what the truth is, right?” In the same sentence the speaker declares that no one knows what the truth is, then he turns around and asks those who are listening to affirm the truth of his statement.

“No one knows what the truth is.” The speaker obviously believes his statement is true.

There are philosophers who actually spend countless hours toiling over voluminous writings on the “meaninglessness” of everything. We can assume they think the text is meaningful! Then there are those philosophy teachers who state, “No one’s opinion is superior to anyone else’s. There is no hierarchy of truth or values. Anyone’s viewpoint is just as valid as anyone else’s viewpoint. We all have our own truth.” Then they turn around and grade the papers!

Absolute Truth – Morality:
Morality is a facet of absolute truth. Thus, relativists often declare, “It’s wrong for you to impose your morals on me.” Or, as, in a particular context, my managing director’s advice (during my career years) “not to categorize people and events in black and white terms, but in relative shades of grey”. By declaring something is wrong, however, the relativist is contradicting himself by imposing his morals upon the other.

One might hear, “There is no right, there is no wrong!” If so, it encourages the query whether that statement is right or wrong?

If a relativist is caught in the act of doing something he knows is absolutely wrong, and someone tries to point it out to them, he may respond in anger, “Truth is relative! There’s no right and there’s no wrong! We should be able to do whatever we want!” If that is a true statement and there is no right and there is no wrong, and everyone should be able to do whatever they want, then why are people becoming angry? What basis do they have for their anger? No one can be appalled by an injustice, or anything else for that matter, unless an absolute has somehow been violated.

Relativists often argue, “Everybody can believe whatever they want!” It makes us wonder, why are they arguing? We find it amusing that relativists are the ones who want to argue about relativism.

If one attempts to tell a relativist the difference between right and wrong, one will no doubt hear, “None of that is true! We make our own reality!” If that’s true, and we all create our own reality, then our statement of moral accountability is merely a figment of the relativist’s imagination. If a relativist has a problem with a statement of absolute morality, the relativist should take the issue up with himself. In defining truth, it is first helpful to note what truth is not:

• Truth is not simply whatever works. This is the philosophy of pragmatism – an ends-vs.-means-type approach. In reality, lies can appear to “work,” but they are still lies and not the truth.
• Truth is not simply what is coherent or understandable. A group of people can get together and form a conspiracy based on a set of falsehoods where they all agree to tell the same false story, but it does not make their presentation true.
• Truth is not what makes people feel good. Unfortunately, bad news can be true.
• Truth is not what the majority says is true. Fifty-one percent of a group can reach a wrong conclusion.
• Truth is not what is comprehensive. A lengthy, detailed presentation can still result in a false conclusion.
• Truth is not defined by what is intended. Good intentions can still be wrong.
• Truth is not how we know; truth is what we know.
• Truth is not simply what is believed. A lie believed is still a lie.
• Truth is not what is publicly proved. A truth can be privately known (for example, the location of a buried treasure).

The Greek word for “truth” is aletheia, which literally means to “un-conceal”, “disclose” or “hiding nothing.” It conveys the thought that truth is always there, always open and available for all to see, with nothing being hidden or obscured. The Hebrew word for “truth” is emeth, which means “firmness,” “constancy”, “veracity”. Truth is presented as “Satya” in Sanskrit. It also refers, in Indian tradition, to virtue, of being truthful in one’s thought, speech and action. In Yoga, satya is the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one’s expressions and actions, being true and consistent with reality in one’s thought, speech and action. Such definitions imply an everlasting substance and entity that can be relied upon.
From a philosophical perspective, there are three simple ways to define truth:

1. Truth is that which corresponds to reality.
2. Truth is that which matches its object.
3. Truth is simply telling it like it is.

First, truth corresponds to reality or “what is.” It is real. Truth is also correspondent in nature. In other words, it matches its object and is known by its referent. For example, a professor facing a class may say, “Now the only exit to this room is on the right.” For the class that may be facing the teacher, the exit door may be on their left, but it’s absolutely true that the door, for the professor, is on the right.

Truth also matches its object. It may be absolutely true that a certain person may need so many milligrams of a certain medication, but another person may need more or less of the same medication to produce the desired effect. This is not relative truth, but just an example of how truth must match its object. It would be wrong (and potentially dangerous) for a patient to request that their doctor give them an inappropriate amount of a particular medication, or to say that any medicine for their specific ailment will do.

In short, truth is simply telling it like it is; it is the way things really are, and any other viewpoint is wrong. A foundational principle of philosophy is being able to discern between truth and error, or as Thomas Aquinas observed, “It is the task of the philosopher to make distinctions.”

Aquinas’ words are not very popular today. Making distinctions seems to be out of fashion in a postmodern era of relativism. It is acceptable today to say, “This is true,” as long as it is not followed by, “and therefore that is false.” This is especially observable in matters of faith and religion where every belief system is supposed to be on equal footing where truth is concerned.

There are a number of philosophies and worldviews that challenge the concept of truth, yet, when each is critically examined it turns out to be self-defeating in nature.
The disciples of postmodernism simply affirm no particular truth. The patron saint of postmodernism—Frederick Nietzsche—described truth like: “What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms … truths are illusions … coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.” Ironically, although the postmodernist holds coins in his hand that are now “mere metal,” he affirms at least one absolute truth: the truth that no truth should be affirmed. Like the other worldviews, postmodernism is self-defeating and cannot stand up under its own claim.

A popular worldview is pluralism, which says that all truth claims are equally valid. Of course, this is impossible. Can two claims – one that says a woman is now pregnant and another that says she is not now pregnant – both be true at the same time? Pluralism unravels at the feet of the law of non-contradiction, which says that something cannot be both “A” and “Non-A” at the same time and in the same sense. As one philosopher opined, anyone who believes that the law of non-contradiction is not true (and, by default, pluralism is true) should be beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten and burned is not the same thing as to not be beaten and burned. Also, note that pluralism says that it is true and anything opposed to it is false, which is a claim that denies its own foundational tenet.

The spirit behind pluralism is an open-armed attitude of tolerance. However, pluralism confuses the idea of everyone having equal value with every truth claim being equally valid. More simply, all people may be equal, but not all truth claims are. Pluralism fails to understand the difference between opinion and truth, a distinction Mortimer Adler notes: “Pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those areas that are matters of taste rather than matters of truth.”  In order to understand absolute or universal truth, we must begin by defining truth. Truth, according to the dictionary, is “conformity to fact or actuality; a statement proven to be or accepted as true.” Some people would say that there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Others would argue that there must be some absolute reality or truth.

One view says that there are no absolutes that define reality. Those who hold this view believe everything is relative to something else, and thus there can be no actual reality. Because of that, there are ultimately no moral absolutes, no authority for deciding if an action is positive or negative, right or wrong. This view leads to “situational ethics,” the belief that what is right or wrong is relative to the situation. There is no right or wrong; therefore, whatever feels or seems right at the time and in that situation is right. Of course, situational ethics leads to a subjective, “whatever feels good” mentality and lifestyle, which has a devastating effect on society and individuals. This is postmodernism, creating, if it can be so described, a post-truth society that regards all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth claims as equally valid.

The other view holds that there are indeed absolute realities and standards that define what is true and what is not. Therefore, actions can be determined to be either right or wrong by how they measure up to those absolute standards. If there are no absolutes, no reality, chaos ensues. Take the law of gravity, for instance. If it were not an absolute, we could not be certain we could stand or sit in one place until we decided to move. Or if two plus two did not always equal four, the effects on civilization would be disastrous. Laws of science and physics would be irrelevant, and commerce would be impossible. What a mess that would be! Thankfully, two plus two does equal four. There is absolute truth, and it can be found and understood.

To make the statement that there is no absolute truth is illogical. Yet, today, many people are embracing a cultural relativism that denies any type of absolute truth. A good question to ask people who say, “There is no absolute truth” is this: “Are you absolutely sure of that?” If they say “yes,” they have made an absolute statement—which itself implies the existence of absolutes..
We all know there is absolute truth. It seems the more we argue against it, the more we prove its existence. Reality is absolute whether one feels like being cogent or not. Philosophically, relativism is contradictory. Practically, relativism is anarchy. The world is filled with absolute truth.

A relativist maintains that everyone should be able to believe and do whatever he wants. Of course, this view is emotionally satisfying, until that person comes home to find his house has been robbed, or someone seeks to hurt him, or someone cuts the line in front of him. No relativist will come home to find his house robbed and say, “Oh, how wonderful that the burglar was able to fulfill his view of reality by robbing my house. Who am I to impose my view of right and wrong on this wonderful burglar?” Quite the contrary, the relativist will feel violated just like anyone else. And then, of course, it’s okay for him to be a relativist, as long as the “system” acts in an absolutist way by protecting his “inalienable rights.”

Meaning of Life? – This has been the ultimate question since the beginning of mankind. It seems inherent in our nature to ask questions such as “Where did we come from? How did I get here? What is my purpose on earth? Where do I go when I die? What’s the meaning of all this? The answer to this question cannot come from human intelligence or reason, but only from an unrelenting pursuit of the Absolute Truth that pervades and transcends the material world. As we see in today’s naturalistic society, once we remove such pursuit from the equation, we only have materialism to engage our thinking. Or else, we really do have a transcendent purpose, and really do have meaning for our lives. Not only do we find day-to-day significance in our lives, but an ultimate significance in the form of a cherished hope to ascend to progressively higher states of awareness. Based on the Absolute Truth, we remove the moral relativism that pervades today’s society, and we replace it with a standard of absolute right and wrong, which also lends significance to our day-to-day choices. We can choose to live a meaningless life or a life with absolute and eternal purpose. Some people would say there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Others would argue there must be some absolute reality or truth. What matters is to stop taking sides as believer of one or the other, and transform into a seeker. As yet another year recedes into history, it may yet be that ultimate truth resides in the Absolute, Relative, or Plurality or even way above known fields in finer material nature or subtler realms of the spiritual. It is, nonetheless, important to journey on in questing continuity. As Mark Twain quipped, “truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t”.


21 thoughts on “Journey To Truth…

  1. This is a great philosophical piece from you, Raj. So many perspectives and ideas to the notion of ‘truth’. ‘The truths people cling to, define the quality of societies as well as individual character’ Maybe that’s why societies are so different with different values – the ‘truth’ is always different for each of us. As you mentioned, a ‘truth’ can turn out to be a lie if it was derived from an idea of fiction. Agree with you truth corresponds to reality – but often telling it like it is is easier said than done. Each of us might have a different interpretation of reality.

    To me, the truth is about being honest – being honest about how one is feeling in the moment and about what one wants.

    Wishing you well for the year ahead. Take care 🙂

    • Thanks, Mabel, for your take on truth. A comprehensive definition of truth is not easy as it means different things to different people, even different things in different periods. All the more reason why one should not be blindly accepting whatever is laid down as truth before him. I agree with you that being honest in all situations may be the closest one can be in alignment with truth. My best wishes to you too for a happy and successful 2018….😋

  2. So loved that story of the long marriage of sixty years and the knitted doilies 😀 made me smile Raj.

    I often think Truth changes, We see how that happens throughout the years, as what is perceived as truth one moment in time then changes . For instance, once upon a time it was thought the world was flat.. And anyone who was foolish enough to sail over the horizon would fall off its edge..
    Science, expands its knowledge and as we open up our own awareness, to allow in other perspectives, so too we evolve and expand that which we perceive to be true..
    And as more knowledge is attained our truth alters as we shift our perception .

    I always think dear Raj, that is why our political arenas are stuck in the ruts they are.. They are unwilling to move from the same old patterns of thought that have been held within their domains for such a long time. So they keep ruling by the same methods. The people however are still evolving, awakening and get restless, with the same old same old, for the same old same old.

    I loved your deductions on Absolute Truth versus Relativism: and Absolute Truth – A Logical Necessity:

    And your Last Paragraph sums it all up beautifully Raj.

    “Some people would say there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Others would argue there must be some absolute reality or truth. What matters is to stop taking sides as believer of one or the other, and transform into a seeker. As yet another year recedes into history, it may yet be that ultimate truth resides in the Absolute, Relative, or Plurality or even way above known fields in finer material nature or subtler realms of the spiritual. It is, nonetheless, important to journey on in questing continuity. As Mark Twain quipped, “truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t”.

    Have a Wonderful New Year Raj, May we all become Seekers.. 🙂 Sue 🙂

    • The shifting pattern of truth down the ages, as rightly concurred by you, is only because mankind has been perceiving untruths as truth. And vested interests continue to vitiate the scene by dividing people on the issue of custodianship of truth. It is, therefore, high time for each one to ignore these interests and journey on in the path of personal explorations that will not only ensure goodness in the individual but will also progress societies. Inspite of the machinations of interested groups, the world is, it is heartening to note, becoming a better place, with decline in violence, rise in living standards and opportunities expanding for all groups; people are more empathetic and compassionate now than at anytime in history. While niggling dissatisfactions can drive people to do better, they must not blind us to the big picture and the true story, which is a happy one. May it be more strongly so going forward and may I also thank you, Sue, for graciously sharing your thoughts on the subject. With new year wishes for happiness and good health…😋

      • Onward and forwards do we go Raj, as we explore our inner realms of thought, and Live by the guidance of our hearts. May we always seek that which holds at its heart Love, and we will not go far wrong..
        Many thanks for your most welcome New Year Wishes, as those are again returned to you for you and your family…
        stay Blessed.
        Sue 🙂 🙂

  3. What a wonderful post, Raj. We are all so incredibly conditioned and it can be so difficult to see even the possibility that our core beliefs are just that- a belief and not an absolute Truth/true for everyone. I think it is so important to keep an open mind and be willing to change all aspects of how we see the world as we learn more and gain greater perspective as we (hopefully!) grow throughout our lives. Your line “What matters is to stop taking sides as believer of one or the other, and transform into a seeker” is so important for us all to hold to.

    Wishing you a light-filled, peaceful and joyous year ahead. Much love, Laura.x

    • Thanks to you, Laura, for joining in the discussion. You have captured the essence of it all in stating that we need to progress from passive believers to active seekers and evolve in the process. With new year greetings and best wishes…

  4. Dear Raj,
    This is truly an insightful post with many perspectives and ideals as to what Truth really is. I think a few more readings would be beneficial, too, because of so much to grasp. I love the story of the couple, which brought a smile, but you’re right, “Not only does the story point to an amicable way of dealing with marital discord but it is also illustrative of the folly of jumping to conclusions aided by insufficient information.” Many people simply believe something is true because that’s the way it’s always been done. But as time moves forward, people progress, as well, which leaves room for new changes in how things are conducted.
    One example of believing something to be Truth as opposed to seeing the truth is believing in God, the dogma of Christianity. This is how my husband and I were raised, and how we brought up our children. We believe in something bigger and better to help sustain our spirits while dealing with all the horrific news in the world , but without seeing. As we’ve grown older, us including our children, we’ve questioned this belief. We haven’t walked away from it entirely, but we do wonder more, and ask, “why” more often than we did in the past. You’re right, everyone’s definition of truth is different. You’ve given us much to ponder, while the Truth remains probably more of a personal opinion, except for those absolute Truths that are scientifically proven. Thanks for getting the wheels turning, and I wish you a New Year filled with much love, joy, peace, and maybe some positive answers, too. 🙂

    • Thanks to you, Lauren, for your gracious visit and adding to the subject discussion. The Semitic religions are based on faith, and faith is unquestioning belief in a thing that cannot be seen. So to be a practitioner of any such religion, one has to be a believer blindly accepting a monotheistic god. It is, therefore, up to the concerned individual whether to continue believing in a personalised entity called god. However, the good thing is you have started questioning some of your cherished beliefs with the intent of looking deeper into the nature of reality. Continue at it. Best wishes…

  5. I am just going to go with what’s on my mind before reading comments, Raj. This is not an easy subject to delve into its depths the way you have managed here.

    First, I love the elephant story. Second, the doilies. Which proves the point the power of storytelling, and how, before written language, it managed to hold together entire cultural histories. What I like most about it is that it’s been the provenance of the masses rather than the gentry, which feels more authentic to me somehow.

    I think truth in the end is relative, though I am no athiest. I have had too many extra-ordinary experiences in life to deny the presence of the numinous. Yet I’ve also been given the idea many years back that “God is evolving.” And I’ve never been quite able to shake that one off. If I think about it, it makes perfect sense. Why else these experiments in Creation?

    I know for those who need Absolute Truth a kind of Father God seems imperative. Yet I like the more flexible notion of Creation being a neverending process whereby all is in motion, in flux, without a fixed direction, per se. Your conclusive ‘continuity,’ I believe. Which paradoxically compels one to shore up one’s integrity even more than if there were rules set in stone, though said rules (like the 10 Commandments) can still prove useful as guideposts. Like endlessly repeating a prayer or mantra, however, words can lose meaning as the clever mind takes one down roads perhaps unintended.

    Perhaps humans desire a fix on truth as a way to wrap the human experience, expecting in the end to know ‘what it was all about.’ To me, that’s a pretty limited perspective, but to others, it’s All There Is. In the end, being a Seeker seems to at least ensure this precious life is not wasted. There are, after all, certain illusions that one becomes addicted to that obscure judgment, but above all, cloud actual experience itself. How difficult it is, then, to make decisions based on any kind of moral compass/inner perception of truth or ‘right-ness.’ Still in the end, even illusions might prove useful if one continues searching for truth.

    Thanks for such a deep and insightful post. Blessings to you in the New Year! Aloha

    • A warm namaste to you, dear Bela, for graciously dropping by and contributing to the subject discussion. Please do, however, accommodate my respectful disagreement with you on the absolute dimension of truth. Ultimate truths are absolutes, as they cannot be holistic truths if they are relative. In stating that, I am not a theist as I do not agree with the monotheistic possibility of ultimate reality. My thoughts are pantheistic, as I see every speck of matter as a facet of divinity, which can be equated to energy that can neither be created nor destroyed. Material nature, sustaining all things animate and inanimate in its web of interconnectedness, constitutes the entirety of planet earth and, by extension, the universe. In putting forth my viewpoint, I am not claiming it is the entire truth as my situation may well be akin to the blind men in the elephant story, interpreting a mere portion of the truth. So the journey continues with my best wishes coming your way…

      • Aloha Raj. I’ve now reread my comments and can see how they may have been misconstrued. I do not rally to any Absolute Truth, raher feel as though there is magic everywhere – your pantheism, from the view of my extensive gardens, totally resonates. I was born with second sight in a fundamentalist household, so I had exposure to two completely different worlds. Spirituality has been a lifelong exploration for me since I was very small. Up to this point in what amounts to nearly 65 years on planet earth, I rule nothing out and subscribe to no fixed version of The Truth – for just when I think I’ve wrapped my mind around a concept, the universe (my garden, dogs, the sky) conspires to include something beyond what I had formerly – and so recently – experienced. Life is a wonder! Best wishes returned, dear Raj.

  6. This is a magnificent discussion on truth, Raj! You are a philosopher as well as friend I value 🙂 As people continue to analyze the meaning of life, “what is truth” continues to be a question to ask, time and again. By the way, time is relative, as is truth, in many instances! In these difficult times today, it can be argued that truth has been scorned, and for me I try to keep faith in God to help me make sense of so much around me. It is likely that truth has objective and subjective elements, depending on the situation… there is a lot to think about! They’re two sides of a coin, perhaps. Regardless, the truth is… I wish you a wonderful 2018 and may you and family be surrounded by good health and cheer 🙂 ❤

    • Thanks very much, Christy, for joining in so eloquently. Friendship may well be one of the abiding truths going by how it bonds people even so far apart in space and time zones. Your well wishes are most heartily reciprocated…😋

  7. Dear Raj,

    Just got around to reading this wonderful piece. At once philosophical and theological.

    You speak of Truth. But is there such a thing? And if it was there, does it impact human life in any way? The fact remains that from the minute we come into this world to when we leave it, we get increasingly conditioned to live in a reality of our own making. A reality that draws upon the plethora of beliefs, experiences, prejudices and un-examined assumptions that we accumulate and carry through life.( You too have alluded to this in your post) It stands to reason that each one of us have our own reality which is different from the other person’s. The assumption I make that your reality is or should be the same as mine creates the aspect of reality illusion and has been at the core of most conflicts that mankind has witnessed from times immemorial.

    So should we not be more concerned about the need to increase our own awareness of the Reality of others than the quest of the absolute truth? I sense the former way would yield a more worthwhile and effective life…….


    Shakti Ghosal

    • Thanks very much, Shakti, for your thoughts on the subject. I may kindly be excused for my late response as I was tied up with prior engagements. Awareness may vary according to the width, depth and intensity of each one’s perception and intuitary powers. Seers may probably have the capacity to enhance the seeker’s awareness provided the seeker is willing to invest with the required perseverance. Truth, presumably, exists as an attainable goal at the end of evolutionary scale. Clearly, the world is not what we infer it to be with our finite sense perceptions. It is not immediately discernible because we may still be several notches down the scale. So there is the need to expand faculties and sharpen it continually to ascend to higher levels of awareness.

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