What is your reaction when you hear the word “truth”? Whether you cringe or swoon I would like to ask that you put your previous impressions aside for a moment. It may be possible to liberate capital “T” truth from our positive or negative connotations about the word and place our feet on the trail to something limitless and unexpected.
For those who draw back at the word—it may be that you have seen “truth” used as a bludgeon i.e. “I know (or possess) truth and you don’t”. Some who resonate with the word may believe that they have the one and only truth which can provide a sense of security. Others may find “truth” to be a heart-warming aspiration.
We are also living in a time where doubt, skepticism, and even paranoia cloud even our most taken-for-granted facts. In whichever way this word/concept lands with you, I would like to introduce “truth” as first and foremost: unknown
Any definition we hold about truth is relative and conditioned. While some formulations may be more or less accurate when reality tested, I am inviting an understanding of the word that is paradoxically both ungraspable and infinitely more substantial.
William Stafford says in his poem the way it is:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
On a cosmic scale this thread of truth can be seen as a dynamic living presence that is the source of all that is happening and all that has or will happen. A theist might call this the invisible hand of God.
On a personal level the thread includes your entire life experience: work, relationships, feelings, thoughts . . . even your breath and the beating of your heart. The truth is both in you and is you. When you are attuned on every level you are a pure self-aware expression of Truth (capital “T”). Even when you are confused or doubtful you are one living, dynamic presence of truth experiencing yourself with doubt or confusion.
What I am pointing to is that Truth is non-dual . . . not two. As we become more intimate with truth and more trusting we discover a wholeness that is simultaneously loving, aware, vibrant and vast and most importantly: the stuff we are made of. For those who have tasted this experience of unity there is ecstasy, however for most of us it is still rare or unheard of to experience our lives as a living dynamic wholeness. So how can truth help us now—precisely where we find ourselves today?
To start we’ll have to take a couple steps back from the cosmic oneness and see how everyday relative truth shows up in our lives. Our investigation has to come alive with curiosity and wonder. We also need the courage to face what may be challenging and even destabilizing to our view of ourselves and the world. Here are a couple questions you can ask: [you can use a journal and this question can be repeated] How important is truth in my life? In what ways do I avoid telling the truth and why?
You will likely discover that you soften or deny the truth to avoid feeling pain or causing it for your loved ones. On the flip-side it may be that telling the truth would threaten some coveted pleasure or challenge you in an uncomfortable way. When we numb ourselves to the truth we dampen our own life force, we lose vibrancy and clarity. What other discoveries happen when you ask these questions? What does it feel like inside?
Exploring your relationship to truth will inevitably call forth the attention of your Judge or inner critic and that can be distracting or downright derailing. This is not a situation where you need the help or criticism of the Judge so I would invite you to disinvite this help—firmly if necessary. Separating from the judge is imperative and deserves more attention than can be given here.
I wrote above about attunement which means that you are functioning optimally at all levels: head, heart and body (some will see this as all chakras open and aligned). Being bold with our personal truth helps to resolve conflicts within ourselves—as a practice it begins to heal the rifts between what we feel in our bodies, what we know in our hearts and what makes sense in our heads. The pain of being divided within ourselves is always greater than the pain revealed by truth or the pleasure that is lost. Remembering this gives us strong incentive to be true. The feeling of being united or more whole emboldens us toward the next step: Loving the truth for its own sake.
When Mary Oliver, in the poem Summer day asks: Who made the world? She is not asking us to provide an answer in words. She begins to paint wonder and mystery on to the page. She is inviting us through poetry to drop what we know about the world and our own lives and open. Our practice of telling the truth begins to erode our fortified positions. (I will pause a moment and say explicitly that I am not advocating unskillfully speaking whatever comes to our minds, but rather being available to the sound of our authentic inner guidance) This will make us both more vulnerable and more human. Commitment to truth begins to wear away our unkind belief systems, our hidden resentments, as well as our shortcomings and lack of development—which have for so long needed to see the light. Truth begins to clear the earth of our souls for new growth and life.
In this clearing we see that truth is not just something we speak, but a force in our lives—a source of support and guidance. It is at the heart of our own conscience. Our love of the truth for its own sake strengthens and clarifies our conscience; it brings more heart and caring to our lives. As the force of truth matures, our discovery of Oneness comes alive. We come to realize that our distance from truth is identical to the pain of being disconnected from ourselves; compassion for ourselves and others grows more potent and meaningful.
This begins a new journey: no longer seeking or finding truth but living it and being it. This is unique to each person and can look very different in every circumstance. It could be as simple as “In this moment I am confused, I don’t know what is true” or “The truth is that when I binge watch television I feel disconnected from myself, what I really want is comfort and connection” It can be as profound as recognizing that all forms of matter are transparent to a living, loving light of presence.
The continuity, dynamism, and flow of truth show up in human beings as resilience, malleability, and evolution. There is no stagnation. Alignment with truth places us in a current that feeds into ever deeper, more profound realization.
We hold on or let go or simply admit when we don’t know. There is no stopping point or finished product. Remember we are talking about wonder! Life, the universe, and everything are constantly revealing Truth. Why should you or your life be any different?
The journey of Truth makes no promises; rather it walks us deeper into mystery. As we work through the fears and blockages that are bolstered by our own fantasies, beliefs, and half-truths we challenge life to reveal its splendor. Life in her infinite creativity steps up in the form of Truth and delivers in spectacular fashion.
Although we see the world “outside” of ourselves 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒆𝒙𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒔. Discoveries and insights are found by slowing down and making contact with our direct experience. As a person becomes more attuned to her own experience, inner guidance comes online. We become adept explorers of our own inner worlds. It is not an exaggeration to say we are a portal to the entire universe. This is perhaps what Joseph Campbell was referring to when he wrote of 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒐𝒖𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒔𝒑𝒂𝒄𝒆.
So in this sense how important is it to be in touch? It is everything–quite literally. If we live only in the surface reality it is like being located only in the dry and brittle skin covering the onion. To be in touch is to take a bite right out of that onion, to take one’s place as the majesty of creation. To find that 𝒘𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒃𝒐𝒕𝒉 𝒂 𝒘𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒐𝒘 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒖𝒏𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒔𝒆 𝒊𝒕𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒇. This is awakening, this is freedom, this laughter.