There are many expressions on InwardQuest about the nature of reality, our experience of it and our human potential to change it. How do you decide what is true and what is not? Should one be always open to new truths even when they run contrary to what one already believes? Should one be open to the possibility of paradox? Do you believe absolute truths exist?
It depends on what your definition of truth is.
When someone asks me about truth, I always assume that what they mean by truth is knowledge in accordance with fact; or to put it another way, knowledge that describes objective reality. And yes, that kind of reality does exist. But I have come to believe that knowledge that reflects objective reality is always approximate.
Let me give you a couple of examples. First, a simple one: an equilateral triangle. True equilateral triangles have the same measurement for all three sides. But such triangles only actually exist in our mind. Why? Because the tools we use to make these triangles are never perfectly exact. No matter how accurate your drawing instruments are, there is always going to be a small margin of error, and so the three sides will never be exactly the same length.
So an equilateral triangle drawn in the physical world is always an approximation of the pure idea of an equilateral triangle, and the "truth" is the knowledge of that fact.
Another example: Newtonian Physics. When Isaac Newton wrote down the equations that describe celestial mechanics, he transformed our understanding of the physical universe. But if you relied on those equations to get you to the moon, you would miss your target by several miles. Why? Because Einstein's equations predict small variations from the Newtonian equations due to the Theory of Relativity, which is why NASA relies on Einstein's equations for navigation instead of Newton's.
Well, you could say that now we have found the truth, that Newton's equations were wrong and Einstein's were right, but really it's just a matter of precision, isn't it? If we had not had Newton's equations to build on, Einstein might never have discovered his. And Newton built on the discoveries of those before him. As Newton himself once said, "If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants." So it is with all of science; it is a gradual refinement of theories and improvement of precision.
Here's where the paradox comes in. I almost find it shocking for me to write these words, but: If you want to deal in absolute truth, rather than approximation, you can't do it in the physical world. You can only do it in the mental realm.
However, for most purposes, approximation is good enough. Even NASA is limited by the precision of their instruments, but they are accurate within an acceptable level of error. And when I draw an equilateral triangle, I am not bothered too much by knowing that it is approximate, although I do believe that it improves my understanding of the world to know that my triangle is imperfect.
So what does all of this have to do with faeries and pixie dust?
Well, in order to be useful, truth has to have a purpose. I believe that the purpose of truth, the reason for its pursuit, is to obtain knowledge that produces a reliable outcome. In essence, to learn. So now your definition of truth must include a reason or motivation for the pursuit of truth (a goal, if you will), and something to measure that truth against. Ultimately, for most people, that reason is to be happy.
What makes people happy? It depends on the person. For many people, happiness is being comfortable and safe, in a home of your own. For others, it means being with family and friends. And for some, it means believing in faeries and pixie dust.
There is a new, emerging belief about the nature of dementia. For a long time we have associated the cognitive decoupling that comes with this disease as a form of insanity, a person's own private hell. But what if it is just the opposite? For some, dementia is now being thought of as a way to gradually and comfortably transition a person from this world to the next.
And there are people in sanitariums who have built their own little world in their mind, and are quite happy in it. Who's to say that their reality is any less valid than ours?
OK, maybe you don't want to go the way of faeries and pixie dust. Like Issac Newton said, your "greatest friend is truth." You want to be right. Right?
Have a look at what goes on in Washington (or in any other governmental body). You won't find any truth there. What you will find is vested interests, negotiation and compromise. Have a look at our media. You won't find truth there, either. What you will find is opinions, biases, and interpretations. It's nice to think that, well, in science we can still find the truth, but you won't find it there either. Instead, you will find power struggles, profit motives, and compromised principles.
Does that sound depressing? Consider that, in my industry of computer science, the biggest difficulty you will find is not any of these things. The biggest difficulty in my field is the unyielding bigotry of people who say that their way of doing things is the only right way. They have decided that their way is the truth, and therefore they have stopped thinking.
You would think that computers are the most precise thing we have, the closest thing to absolute truth there is. After all, as the old saying goes, "computers don't make mistakes, only the people who program them." In reality, everything about computers is a tradeoff. Everything. Do you want speed, or a low memory footprint? Do you want performance, or ease of use? Do you want long battery life, or small size? There is no absolute truth at all in the computer industry, only the maximization of perceived benefits.
Given these observations, I am now a little more sympathetic when someone tells me what they believe, even if I don't think it's true. It is true for them, from their point of view. Who am I to upset their apple cart?
Believing in anything produces a karmic consequence, a self fulfilling consequence.
(The rest was added later)
Ok, I decided to add more to my rather cryptic answer. I love your excellent question because it is fundamental in the path of inner discovery. I also love all the answers, for they cover the "real" issues that matter in the real world that we live in.
I confronted this dilemma again and again many times in experiencing "Un-explainable" events in my life. It is through these "Un explainable events" that I found my self slowly crossing over to a very comfortable trust in the "Inner Source" of discernment, with regards to "is this right or wrong".
I refer to the idea "My Higher Self" many times. I learned this word from a book I read years after I experienced the so called "Higher Self". I was around 16 - 17 years old. I had already experienced an out of body experience that had "opened up" my concept of life & existence.
Myself & my father were the only ones at home that day and something told me to ask my father to sit by the window & pretend to read something & allow me to do all the talking. I am by nature a very timid person & I don't know from where I got the courage to even suggest this idea to my dad. The mob approached up the narrow lane leading up to our house, and I noticed many of them wore blood soaked clothing from having murdered many families prior to arriving at our house.
As I observed this mob appear, my sheer terror of what was about to happen to me and my dad suddenly left me and a strange absolute calmness descended into my consciousness. I felt a presence come in & I didn't have any emotion. It was as if I was pushed aside to being an observer while another presence took over my body. The leader of the mob inquired as to the whereabouts of the occupants of the house. I heard myself say in their language "They have moved out of here long ago, we are the only ones here now". Where did these words come from I don't know. But it stalled their decision to kill me and my dad long enough for someone else "maybe sent by God?" to come down the lane and call off the mob to proceed to the next address on the list to continue the rampage.
On that day many families were murdered. A couple of blocks from our home another family suffered a terrible fate. The mob pulled the entire family out of the home and forced the husband and sons to watch while the wife & 2 daughters were raped and then murdered. Then the remaining witnesses were murdered as well.
From this point onwards I accepted that there was something watching over me and I decided to get to know what that something was. Being guided from within became far more meaningful that trying to authenticate things from the outside.
I still try to authenticate what I choose to believe, but I initiate that process from the inside and allow my self to be guided towards the truth of what I believe. I don't ask people, "Can you substantiate your ideas with proof?” The inner guidance either tells me "this information is BS pretending to be fact" or "you can trust this". You will be surprised by How much so called "Factual information" resonates as bulls**t from the inner guidance.
Long time, no speak, John :)
I would say that the only reliable indicator of what is true for an individual is how something feels. I would say that there is no absolute conception of truth, only what is true for you - and your emotions are the key to discovering what that is.
I would say that is what is happening on Inward Quest anyway. When an answer is posted, people are forming judgements of that answer based upon how it feels to them...whether it fits in with what they personally feel is true or not.
To me, truth for an individual is a distilling of all of that individual's beliefs, experiences, hopes, fears (and many other non-physical factors) into a binary true/false result...that result becomes either something that feels right (true) or does not feel right (not true).
Because of this, even one's personal truth is not fixed. I'm sure we have all experienced cases where our truth now is different compared to what it was when we were younger.
As for whether one should be open to new truths, I would say that ideally you should be open to new truths, but you are going to be hampered by the operation of the Law of Attraction. The Law brings evidence to you for whatever you believe to be true so that tends to perpetuate any existing truth within our individual and mass consciousness.
I think this is why truths on a global scale change fairly slowly. Old believers need to die off while new believers, with different truths, gradually dominate the mass consciousness.
Because of the operation of the Law in manifesting whatever you believe to be true in your reality, I think the question of truth becomes secondary to the question of does your truth serve you?
answered 10 Feb '10, 13:59
I have a book by Max Heindel one of my Rosy Cross books that said "every religion of the world was tailor made to suit the people that study those religions." In other words something to follow that fit their vibration of their experience of how things are. It fit the capacity of thought at the level of comprehension and deed, not more than they could handle.
In this light think of it as we are all on levels of existence not all experiencing this reality as it so seems but each experiencing this reality according to the level of acceptance each can conceive of understanding and accepting.
The old idiom "To each his own" takes on a greater impact when looked at from a world wide personal experience view. We could even be right next to each other seeing and experiencing the same thing observantly, but subjectively (where our experiencing of the reality we observe comes in) experience two entirely different things. One could say this is a terrible ending and the other a beautiful beginning, the same event is saw by both, the end of one thing starts the beginning of another thing, each experience matching the set belief set of each observer in the subjective.
What I do personally with any information is I take what fits with me and what does not I let behind. Not to not be learned from as there are many lessons on many levels for many people from the same thing so I do study even what I disagree on. There may be something useful to me in it even the enlightenment that reality is right for all as they believe.
(Welcome back John)
You know truths vary from moment to moment, person to person and situation to situation. An answer or a question that might help me on my spiritual journey may not help another person. Something within that answer or question may click and help you on your merry way. It is one of those ha ha moments. Sometimes there are many truths to a time and situations depending on what degree of the center point you are standing on.
I think everyone brings a little or a lot of truths to this site, a spiritual knowledge library of information that can and may go a long way to help us on our spiritual and conscious journey.
We are learning that we have more power within our grasp that God has given to us and Jesus Christ has spoken about. If we could live to be a 1000 years old, we would still be learning. For there is so much knowledge to be consumed that we won't ever retain it all as a human, for our brains will not hold the vastness of God's infinitely spiritual genius and power. We can't even comprehend it.
well you can't bro for the simple reason that this whole site is based on OPINIONS. many of these peoples belifes are just that...BELIEFS. so there isnt much truth on this site (real solid evidence) so you must decide for yourself bro. and YES you should be open to whatever makes you happy. if you can connect to it, then go right ahead. as long as you are not a person who believes that if you dont do gods will you will go to hell ( christians, muslims) then nothing should be holding you back. shlama ( peace in aramaic)
answered 10 Feb '10, 08:00
I discern reality on this website in a couple of ways.
First: if someone can tell me a personal anecdote about how they were able to apply a particular belief or technique to their life, and what the results were, that carries a much higher weight with me than if they say they just believe in something, or that a book or other resource was good but they didn't or couldn't apply it to their life in a practical way (I assume that they are telling me the truth, and not just making up some imaginary story).
Second: I use resources like the Bible as a source of divine inspiration and insight, rather than a blueprint to be followed slavishly.
Third: I try to apply the ideas myself, and see if they work. Ideas have much more appeal for me if they have some practical application. I am much less inclined to think about things like faeries and pixie dust, because for me I don't see how they can improve my quality of life, imaginary or not.
Fourth: I avoid mind traps, examples of which are:
Whether these things are true or not (and they are not provably true), believing they are true makes them true for you. Why bring that kind of confusion into your life?
Finally, I do use my intuition. If something feels right, it's more likely to be right.
What is more important than your decision on what is true or not is that you have reached the stage where you are willing to expand your consciousness enough to consider your fellow man's opinions. Follow your IN-tuition.
Wow! Some amazing answers here. I would say first and foremost I listen to my own inner guidance and intuition. For most of my life I have accepted other people's beliefs as True(and that didn't work too well) and now I am at a point where I am looking at those beliefs and discarding the ones that don't work for me ( a long and slow process). In order to learn and grow we have to be willing to move outside our comfort zone and at least consider new possibilities and in the process we become more openminded and the potential for learning and growing becomes unlimited. Because there are no such things as absolute truths on this earthly plane, we realize that there are no right or wrong answers and what resonates with me and I choose as 'My Truth' may be totally out of sync with where you're at.Also what I choose today as 'My Truth' may not resonate with me a year from now as I am choosing to continually expand and grow so my concepts are no longer 'fixed'. In order to grow we have to at least consider that the beliefs we hold may not be the only answer and those that run contrary to our own belief system could possibly hold some truth.
I finded an editorial into a Romanian site named "Prayers' and spirituality review" (www.rugaciuni.ro). It is only on Romanian, hence I translated it for you and I hope that, being in the topic of question, it will interesting.
The cosmic truths beyond the prayer. The seven beggings from "Our Father".
Through this prayer, the human aspires to rise his being to Divinity. Jesus Christ set it for us and it finds into itself the cosmic truths of Creator.
All the human nature hold into herself the expression of Divinity. Refering to the human nature, Rudolf Steiner told about "superior trinity" and the "four inferior parts" as being a whole - the Human. The superior trinity of the human is manifested by the three superior parts of man similarly to the three inferior parts of Divinity, Who gived us the soul drop (Genesis 2:7), These three principles are Manas, Budhi and Atma; Atma represents the human-spirit; will-Budhi prefigures the life-spirit; Manas-Spirit himself. Therfore, in the superior trinity of human, the main is the Spirit, As these three superior parts of the human nature could be considered parts of Divinity, like this the four inferior parts of the human are parts of Divine Nature. Therefore our body is the temple into which abides the Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16) These four "natural" parts are: physical body, etheric body, astral body and the Self.
The Divine Thruth of the Creator about the Creation nature is emphasized in the Christian prayer "Our Father", which refers to the all seven parts of the human, which is addressed the seven asks-beggings for. The prayer begins with "Our Father, Who is in heaven", formula by wheach the human recognize God and his kingdom. Follows the three asks referring to the three superior parts, to what is Divine: "Holy is Your Name (1); Your Kingdom come (2), Your will be done (3), The passing from the spiritual kingdom to the earthly is finded into "oh earth as it is in heaven." The last four asks are referring to the four inferiour components; for the physical body: "Give us this day our daily bread," (4). When we say and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sins against us; (5)" we request the settling of mistakes commited by the etheric or vital body; and lead us not into temptation, (6), temptation belongging to the astral body, the bearer of impulses, passions, fiery wishes; about the Self we say: but deliver us from evil. (7) because the worthless is in us, together with the suporiour Divine part. For end of prayer we say: "The your are the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen", as recognizing those Whu build the kinddom, the Powerful our Creator.
Rudolf Steiner told: "Our Father is the expression of primordial wisdom; like the light is expressed by seven colours and the fundamental sound by seven tons, as the human life, constituted by seven parts or seven feelings, is ascending to God".
The seven asks from "Our Father", rised sincerely and correctly, implore the Divine will for gathering up and balancing the seven parts into structure-evolution for finding his Divine Universe. God don't let nothing to the happening; when the human is praying, he follow the cosmic guidance of Divinity.
answered 19 Feb '10, 07:55
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