Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Matter of Truth

If I write:-                                2H2 + O2 = 2H2O

that is to say, two molecules of hydrogen when combined with one molecule of oxygen produce two molecules of water, then that is a statement of truth. In other words, the symbols used in this chemical equation correspond to "things" which we can handle in the outer world, and which behave in accordance with that equation. The truth lies in the sense of equivalence between symbol and object.

Similarly, if I write:-                     10 + 5 = 15

this could correspond to the fact that if I enter a shop and buy ten articles, enter a second shop and buy a further five articles, I will arrive home with fifteen articles. In other words, there is a direct correspondence between the symbols used in the arithmetical equation and the objects I take home. I have made a statement of truth relative to those objects and their symbolic representation, but these exemplars are not the only kind of truth.

In the comments to an earlier post ("An Instrument of Power," posted on 10.8.2013) it was suggested that I draw the Wand of Power.  I have long puzzled over my antipathy towards that idea.  What purpose would the drawing of the Wand have served?  I concluded that the only purpose which could have been served, and which could have been served equally well without the use of a drawing, would have been to point me in a particular direction, for a Wand of Power needs to direct its energy.  Thus it was that when, in a state of meditation, I pointed the wand to some point ahead, a great hole opened in the air before me.

..........Through that hole I stepped, to be confronted by a world of fire, flames that did not consume.  As I walked through the flames I saw that they were heads of people, man and woman, young and old, modern and ancient, of many faiths and beliefs.  Everyone had their faces turned towards a great column of brilliant, white light.  So bright was the symbol of enlightenment that all eyes were closed against that symbol of enlightenment.  And I also, as I approached the light, was obliged to turn my eyes away......... 
                                                              [Extract from my personal diary]

The symbol referred to in this extract was not truth in itself, but a pointer to an ineffable experience which was truth. It was what I experienced that day that was truth, not the imagery which pointed the way.  Similarly, no words in any book, no matter how learned in psycho-spiritual matters, no matter how holy and sacred, can be said to be the Truth.

Like the Wand, the Word is a pointer towards the truth.  Truth is revealed through experience.

Finally, to say, "God Is," or even that, "I Am," is not truth.  They are nothing more than statements using written symbols.  Equally, to say, "God Is Not," is not truth either, for the same reason. But, the experience of God, or by whatever means that theistic experience is named, and which is an ineffable experience because God cannot be defined, now that is truth, and it is absolute, because that experience is "known" by the totality of my innermost, deepest, being.


  1. simple question by a simple soul - how does one know that what one is experiencing is the Truth? surely there is very often confusion on the subject... why, i feel my whole life of late has been nothing but such a state of confusion.

  2. Simple question indeed! Who are you trying to kid? :)

    Maybe the truth is simply that you are in a state of confusion. Surely your perceptions are your only reality, and reality is truth.

  3. Is one's Truth the same as another's Truth? What if they collide? What, then, IS the truth?

  4. Bruce, the problem I face here is that the truth we are talking about is beyond words. I believe that the experience of truth is unique to each individual. The questions as to whether one's truth is the same as another's, and what if they collide, do not then arise.

    What does arise, however, is the problem of what happens when we attempt to transfer our inner perceptions of truth into our everyday lives. How do I match my perceptions with those of my family, neighbours and society? What compromises must I make so that society can function without destroying my spiritual integrity? These problems, which can be solved with love, honesty and respect, lie at the heart of the interaction between individual ego and community ego.

    As to what truth IS, all I can say from my experience is that one knows it when it presents itself. That of course is probably a far from satisfactory answer, but the truth lies in the most Real part of our Self, not in our conscious ego.
    And perhaps the approach that it is not-this, not-that, is the closest we can get to putting it into words.

  5. The Buddhist idea of emptiness basically refers to the idea that everything in reality is but an appearance, lacking intrinsic existence. Looking at our hand, perhaps that one with fingers pointing at the moon, we see that it's made up of parts - fingers, skin, bones, muscles, each of which is made up of smaller parts. The process can be followed endlessly, always in the direction of something more primary until we begin to understand that everything we recognize is simply a conceptual designation. Wherever we look we see only the externalization of our ideas - all the way down to subatomic particles that we know exist but can't see at all.

    For a very long time the problem I've had with those who declare themselves to be atheists is that term is defined in the dictionary as a denial of God. Being irreligious is perfectly understandable since most all the major theistic religions have endeavored to control people by inserting 'experts' between them and God. Heaven and hell were inventions to promote good behavior and alternatively, punish bad. Meanwhile, in our culture people in general have not only been denied access to (or being guided toward) direct transcendent experiences but have been steered into the dangerously dogmatic territories of seeing only in the black and white concepts found in simple interpretations. Seen in this light it's no wonder that many intelligent young Westerners ran away at top speed from the religions of their youth to the more conceptually relevant Eastern forms of self-actualization.

    You're right that God can't be defined and that is what makes the exploration of our being such a grand and wonderful mystery tour.

    Thanks for yet another very insightful post, Tom (and bearing with one of my rants).

  6. Susan, I did enjoy this comment very much. Please, and this applies to anyone who comments here, don't hold off from ranting. Words from the heart are every bit as valuable as expressions of the intellect.

    In my post I was aware that I was struggling to maintain a line between what is presumed to be "objective truth", which inevitably is flawed, and that genuine "truth of the soul" which can only be imperfectly transferred to the conscious world.

    In the end, the core of Truth cannot be transmitted; it can only be experienced. Although I had no intention of moving into the religious field - and it is often not seen that religion was the only field available for dealing with matters psychological - I did find that my fingers were tapping out something that was relating the Word, or perhaps the Logos, to a pointer towards absolute Truth through spiritual experience. It may even be that God himself, however that term is understood, may be the ultimate pointer, Word or Wand of Power.

    I'm beginning to feel that I am in the process of writing another post in my comments box, so I'll leave it there.....for now.