What is Truth

Today, on the long commute home from work, I started pondering the core reasons I first became interested in spirituality. Why did I dive down this rabbit hole? What was my goal?

And I came up with two:

  1. As a means of coping with the mental health challenges
  2. In the pursuit of truth

Given that as my mental health challenges subsided I still continued on this quest, I will focus on the second reason as the constant. Pursuit of truth.

As I continued the first thought that came to me was a common piece of spiritual advice that I had heard on many occasions, and in many forms. It was to stop believing your thoughts. To stop thinking that whatever your mind says is automatically true. So if I am earnest in my pursuit of truth, and I heed this advice, I should cease to continually pour so much energy into the obsessive examination of my own thoughts.

As an experiment I convince myself momentarily that my mind has nothing to offer in this spiritual quest. As this paradigm takes hold I find myself retreating from my familiar home in my head and my focus diverts to my immediate surroundings. My environment starts to feel fuller and sense of calm begins to develop. Simple items near me start to gain depth. I postulate the following idea: what if the most obscure item in my car provided a more profound gateway to the truth than my mind could ever conjure. Unfortunately, but predictably, this feeling doesn’t last. There is far too much momentum in my habitual thinking.

But why do I even want to know the truth? Why bust my ass to find something so elusive?

My initial answer is to enable a life well lived. I had thought that in knowing the truth I could then make the right decisions to shape my life in the most desirable way possible. But if the greatest spiritual teachers tell me that my mind is not a source of truth, my idea of ‘knowing the truth’ does not make sense. It reduces something as divine as truth to just more ego stuff.

Perhaps truth, and a life well lived, are actually one in the same.

If access to the truth is found in the present moment, and living life in the present moment is the object of the spiritual quest then they are in fact inseparable. I can’t use the truth to find my purpose, truth is my purpose.

 

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Carl Jung – “We Cannot Change Anything, Unless We Accept it” (5 minute read)

If you are struggling to find inner peace, I urge you to read this short post. It is an excerpt from a lecture that Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, gave to a group of clergy. I discovered it on YouTube and have provided the link below.

People forget that even doctors have moral scruples. And that certain patients’ confessions are hard for even a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel themselves accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words. It comes only through reflection and through the doctor’s attitude towards himself and his own dark side. If the doctor wants to guide another or even accompany him a step of the way he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. Whether he puts his judgment into words or keeps it to himself makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position and to agree with the patient offhand is also of no use and estranges him as much as condemnation.

Feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity. This sounds almost like a scientific precept and it could be confused with the purely intellectual abstract attitude of mind but what I mean is something quite different. It is a human quality. A kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life.

The truly religious person has this attitude. He knows that God has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious ways to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by unprejudiced objectivity. It is the moral achievement on the part of the doctor who ought not let himself be repelled by sickness or corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate. It oppresses. I am the oppressor of the person I condemn. Not his friend and fellow sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we decide to help and improve, but if the doctor wishes to help a human being, he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple and so acceptance of one’s self is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I have given him salt, that I love the enemy in the name of Christ. All these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the arms of my own kindness. That I myself am the enemy who must be loved. What then?

Then as a rule the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. There is then no more talk of love and long suffering. We say to the brother within us “Raca” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world. we deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves and had it been god himself that drew near to us in this despicable form we should deny him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.

 

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Obsessing Over the Question – Who Am I?

Now THIS is something that I know about! Quickly to start, here is a truncated list of the many different ways I have sought to learn more about myself:

Having completed all of the above and still finding myself without a solid understanding of who I am sure seems to be a classic case of paralysis by analysis.

Valuing self awareness as I do I am forced to question my whole approach. From a spiritual perspective this constant pursuit of figuring out who I am, under the pretext that it can help me live a better life, keeps me entirely out of the present moment and intensely focused on some future state. It is the ego trying to leverage spiritual knowledge to make life better for the ego.

My current gratitude practice is definitely something that I can improve. Is my current life so terrible that I must use all of my energy making things “better”?

Obviously it is not.

I have a healthy family. I have a steady, well paying job. I have friends. I have a roof over my head. I have more luxuries than 99.9% of the planet. And I live in one of the safest countries on the entire planet.

Now, perhaps being in such a privileged position has burdened me the responsibility to make the most of it. Contrarily, if the energy I bring to my daily interactions leans towards negativity because of this burden than a life well lived may be the best course of action.

My needs are simple. I want to laugh. I want to feel safe. I want to live a happy healthy life.

Additionally, this tendency towards obsessive self assessments seems more suited for someone in the pursuit of extreme success. The presence of this proclivity in me may be largely influenced by the incessant social media narrative of the same theme.

But, truthfully it doesn’t seem very appropriate for someone like myself. Success of this nature would certainly bring with it more stress, and I am certainly not known for my innate ability to handle stress!

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