The Truth, My Truth, and “Truthiness” (#968)

One of the things that used to drive me nuts as a long time student and teacher of the structure of subjective experience was when people would share their point of view as if it was “the truth” in some objective sense. To me, such statements sounded arrogant, ignorant, and so fundamentally misguided that I tended (on a good day) to feel sorry for the purveyors of such “truths” and (on a bad day) to dismiss them and everything they said out of hand.

Which is why it was ridiculously humbling to sit down one day and see a simple fact of life that had been hiding in plain sight, invisible to me through the filter of my prejudice:

Some stuff is just true, whether you believe in it or not.

For example, whether we call it “the principle of gravity” or ascribe it to “the greedy troll who lives in the center of the earth sucking everything towards him”, there is some observable force in the universe that keeps us from floating off into space, regardless of our explanation for it or whether or not we like it.

Similarly, there are 118 principle elements in the physical realm which make up every single thing in the universe, from the hydrogen and oxygen in water to the extraordinary blend of carbon, nitrogen, boron, and hydrogen that has somehow become “truthily” known in our culture as “a girl’s best friend”.

Even the objective truth of subjectivity was invisible to me in my pursuit of “the most useful lie” – the point of view that would make functioning in a truthless world as effortless and enjoyable as possible.

So the fact that I now make my living by pointing people to the truth of the principles behind the human experience is not only ironic, it would have been unthinkable to me eight years ago.

But my years of training in spotting subjectivity has not gone completely to waste. If you’re going to talk about “the truth” in any meaningful way, it’s extremely useful to be able to separate it out from both honesty​, i.e. “this really is how it appears to me” and “truthiness”, i.e. stating that which I believe as if it is an objective fact.

For example, I would assert the existence of Thought – a fluid, transient energy that forms the basis of our personal reality – as “the truth”.

What specifically I think – which football team or country or religion is best, what brand of beer to drink, or which way the toilet roll should go (c’mon people, we all know it should unspool from the top, not the bottom) is “my truth”.

And when I talk about my thought-created truths as though they are the truth, I am demonstrating “truthiness”, defined by Wikipedia as “a quality characterizing a ‘truth’ that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively ‘from the gut’ or because it ‘feels right’ without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”

So why does this all really matter?

One of the most poignant answers to that question came to me in a conversation with a religious leader who told me that while he believed the stories in the bible were true, he didn’t feel like believing that was essential to the larger purpose (in his worldview) of religion – awakening people to their spiritual essence.

By emphasizing the stories about “what God likes and doesn’t like” with the same ardor as the truth of there being a spiritual element to  our existence, we have created generations of people who have thrown the baby of the divine out with the bathwater of dogma, belief, and ritual.

Or as a family friend once pointed out to me, “If I teach my kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and God, what are the odds that they’re going to wind up believing in any of them?”

Here’s some of what I have seen to be universal – the truth about the human experience:

  • We are spiritual creatures – made of the same essential energy or life force that runs through all things. I tend to call this energy behind life the Universal Mind, as it seems to have an intelligence to it that is demonstrated throughout the natural world, but in my subjective mind, to call it God or Spirit or Nature neither aggrandizes nor diminishes it.
  • Our personal realities are created moment by moment via the energy of Thought and the capacity of Consciousness, and are far more fluid and changeable than we think.
  • Seeing these truths or “principles” in action has a predictable impact on the human psyche, softening  people’s world views and leading to quieter minds, greater wisdom, deeper feelings, more common sense, and a sense of love and connection with all living beings and life itself.

What have you seen to be fundamentally true, regardless of opinion, belief system, or upbringing?

Please share your insights and reflection on the Inside-Out Community Facebook page and I’ll look forward to continuing the conversation there…

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,
Michael

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