Thinking about Truth

I like to think that the idea of truth is one that I carry around with me each moment of my life, and I suppose it is. I like to think that the truth guides my life, and I suppose it does. But sometimes I think about it more than I do at other times.

The truth is a strange thing, and I suppose that before I get started talking about it I should mention that the simple little word “truth” can be mean a thousand different things, and although sometimes we can say “Truth” with a capital letter to help delineate what we’re talking about, there are still a thousand ways to think of it. But the truth I’m thinking about, the truth on my mind, is a strange thing. I decided some years ago, and haven’t changed my mind since, that Truth always presents a paradox to the human mind. At least, a Truth that comes imposing itself from outside of one’s normal perceptions and habits seems to do so. And certainly this is nothing new. Buddhists have taught by way of paradox for ages. Jesus taught in paradoxes. And it isn’t so much that a paradox is truly a paradox in an absolute sense; it’s just that at the moment we hear it, we don’t have the tools to decode its seemingly opposing pieces in a way that they will fit together along with our other tools and ideas.

A few years ago I wrote that I believe in a truth that cannot be spoken. I still do, and at the moment I’m thinking that I’d like to channel Meister Eckert’s thoughts about God and say that Truth must remain this way; it must remain mysterious and unspeakable. If it ceased to be a mystery and if we could measure it and point to it, it would become just another fact or figure that Man calls his own. And for me, it would lose what makes it Real in any meaningful sense.

But anyway the Truth I’m thinking about is the Truth that is way, way down deep—somewhere in the vicinity of the questions about what it means to be alive, what it means to be human, about purpose and fulfillment and being and doing. It’s certainly not a truth of mathematics or simple historical facts, and neither is it a Truth discussed in the field of epistemology—although that’s closer to it. And I have to admit, with an idea that to many people I know seems like blasphemy, it isn’t even the Truth of theology or Man’s religions—although those are closest yet. No, it’s beyond those things. It’s way out there in a place where metaphorically I push my mind till it can go no further, and so then I push my heart until it confesses it can see no longer, and then I push it a bit more. I am talking about the Truth that is still beyond me when, with all that I am, I have done my best to leave everything I believe to be true—all the little truths I’ve learned to accept—and opened myself to Truth. And oh my God, it is a profoundly beautiful place where only silent and slowly forming tears attempt to give it voice. I love that place. With all that I am, I love that place.

And it is in that place that Paradox presents itself in full force, for Truth surrounds everything—and who are we, we who scarcely know how to form a thought unless it is one of division and categorization, to do with such a Unity? How do we understand that Truth is surrounding the sacred and the profane, the beautiful and the ugly, the joyous and the sufferable, the laughing and the weeping, the living and the dying, the cruel and the merciful, the full and the empty, the light and the dark, and every other supposed duality that we have defined? How are we to grasp that? I don’t think we can; not well enough to intellectualize it and then speak of it.

But we can feel it—in a certain sense, anyway. We can be exposed to it or experience it as one who stands at an open gate and peers awestruck into an endless field of glory. And our minds can process that feeling; recognize that it is somehow present, and store it away and remember that on that day, in that moment, I experienced something—something beyond all things, and of which I know not how to speak.

It’s that something that helps me to know there is a God.

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