Thursday, January 16, 2014


      Some time ago, one of my senior students told me that he desperately wanted to know the truth about a particular subject. I asked him if he was really serious about his quest and he assured me that he was. So, I gave him my best advice about what the process of truth-seeking involves and for whatever it may be worth, I'd now like to share that with all of you.
      First and foremost, you must clearly identify what it is that you want to know. If you don't have a target at which to direct your aim, your arrows will fly hither, thither, and yon. Once you have a clear view of your target, you must prepare yourself for a long and arduous journey.
      The second step involves stepping away from all of your ingrained feelings and beliefs about your “target.” This is much more difficult to do than it sounds. We often tend to become emotionally attached to our beliefs and letting go of them can be more than a little daunting.    
Nonetheless, we must approach the target free of any and all preconceived notions and emotional ties. Otherwise, our feelings about the subject will taint whatever grains of truth we may find. We must, in a sense, sterilize our minds and hearts before we take the next step.
      Like the second step, the third step involves some considerable introspection. You must determine that you will accept whatever truth you find, regardless of how it may impact your life. After all, it may destroy the very foundation upon which you have built your life. So consider, do you REALLY want to know the truth? Are you willing to accept the consequences of your quest? Most of us live like small frogs in a deep well. The frogs look up at the sky, thinking that that is all there is to the world. Few are those who venture to make the treacherous climb to the mouth of the well and those who have the courage to succeed will realize that what they had previously accepted as the truth...wasn't. Their entire belief systems must now be changed and that can be a very painful experience.
      Many people simply gloss over this step in the process and tell themselves, “Well, of course I'll accept whatever truth I find!” But the TRUTH is that they're lying with themselves. They haven't really cleared their hearts and minds; they'll accept what they find ONLY if it agrees with what they are prepared to accept. And this ruins the entire process. What they will find will not be genuine; it will simply be a reflection of the “truths” from which they are unable to free themselves. So you must determine that even if finding the truth should lead you to your own death, you will accept it.
      The fourth step is really just an extension of the third. It is simply this; real truth is absolute. Something is either true or not. There are no gray areas. Two plus two always equals four. When you discover a truth, you cannot color it to make it more palatable. I've heard many people say things like, “If you believe that something true, then it is...for you.” Although these people often mean well, their thinking is flawed. Truth is absolute. If I believe that something is true, then I am either right or wrong. There is no “in-between.” I may believe the sky is purple and wear purple-tinted glasses to reinforce my belief, but that doesn't make it true.
      The next step is that of research. This stage will probably require some considerable time and it may also involve some substantial expense. You must be ready, willing, and able to research your subject as thoroughly as possible. Bear in mind that those people with whom you may speak are often tainted to some degree by their own beliefs and emotional attachments.     
     This also holds true for any written material that you may utilize in journey. I have met many people who insisted that they'd meticulously researched their subject but it was clear that they'd never completed the second step of the process (go back several paragraphs and look it up); they'd researched materials and spoken to “experts” whose beliefs reflected their own. They were simply reinforcing their own biased beliefs, unwilling to approach the path of truth with a clear, unattached mind.
      I sometimes liken the search for truth to climbing a mountain and following a treacherous path that is sometimes very dark and full of pitfalls. The process is exhausting and when we think we've made it to the end of the path, we find ourselves standing on the edge of a precipice. It is dark and we can't see the bottom. We must be willing to jump without knowing what, if anything, is below us. Maybe we are standing on a small three-foot ledge. Maybe we are poised hundreds of feet above a deep canyon. But regardless of how deep the darkness may be, we have to be willing to jump.
      And that's the sixth and final step. You must make the jump; like the frogs in the well, you must be willing to climb over the top of the well. This will require a strong spirit and great courage but it is the only way to find that which is absolute. Will you fall all the way to the bottom? Will you sprout wings and fly? You can't know the answer to this question until you jump into the darkness.

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