Searching for Truth- Inquisitio Veritatis

The Truth will set you free!  I am the way, the light and the Truth!  Do you promise to tell the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth?  The Truth, you couldn’t handle the Truth.

Why are we searching for the Truth?  Are we really searching for the Truth or is this a lie we perpetuate so that we can sound noble?  Or are we deceiving ourselves like the fools that we send on a “snipe” hunt, looking for a mythical being that does not exist.  Is this thing called Truth the Holy Grail or is it an illusion, a phantasmagoria that so called wise men have set over us to keep us mystified and confused.   Does anyone really know what the Truth is?  Does anyone really care?

Perhaps we can find the Truth by using some examples and working backwards from them to discern what this esteemed creature we call Truth really is?

Let’s start with a mathematical truth.   2+2=4.  

Here it would appear we have found one Truth.  We can demonstrate this, we can replicate this and it is the same in China as it is in Honduras.  It is even useful.  Based on such a simple Truth we can build computers or balance a budget or send a human being to the moon.  So if we have found Truth, why are we still searching?  What is it humans need to know that mathematics is not good for?  “An easy answer, this is I think” says Yoda.  We want to know who murdered the butler.  When will it rain next?  What is the meaning of life?  Will I marry a rich man or a poor man?  What career field should I go into?  The list of questions that cannot be answered by mathematics is legion, thus we continue to seek Truth to other questions that the mathematicians cannot solve.

In our quest for Truth, we turn to philosophy, religion, sociology, history, anthropology, psychology and even astrology.   But all are found wanting.  Ministers, gurus, professors, liars, cheats and management consultants all are willing to tell us the Truth for a price, a fee, a commission or a donation, but their answers still leave us searching for the Truth.  Why?  Is it simply a question of bad methods or bad teachers?  The human race has been searching for the Truth since before Diogenes started searching for an honest man and still we find humans searching, searching, searching.  From sweat lodges, to Zen Centers, to religious revival meetings, to a large bottle of brandy, we find a plethora of means to find Truth.  But the next day, Truth seems to have fled.  Few of us have ever captured Truth for more than a fleeting moment.  Let’s try another example of Truth that I have heard quoted many times.

“What wisdom is there that is greater than kindness?” — J. J. Rousseau

In this moving quote, Rousseau suggests that human emotions are more powerful that wisdom, knowledge and facts about the world.  The person who wins at Trivia Pursuit may lose at life.  The person who achieves vast stores of diamonds, gold and jewels may be the most impoverished person on earth without the touch of a human heart.  The most powerful ruler on earth is powerless when confronted by a human tear.  Kindness is a universal that moves the world.  Progress is made by kindness not by wisdom.  But is this the Truth we are all seeking?  Is this Truth enough to guide the world?  Judging by the dearth of kindness in so many of us, it would seem to be a difficult truth to hold onto.  And a Truth should be absolute, no exceptions, something we can all agree on.  This quote, despite being quite profound, would not seem to meet the criteria we need for the Truth.   Let’s try another example.

 “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another”.  – Thomas Merton

Merton, a noted Jesuit theologian reflects the Christian belief in the importance of love in our lives.  Love yourself.  Love your neighbor.  Love one another.  Love your enemy.  Love those you do not even know.  Love is the single most important commandment of God and Jesus.  If you love others, your soul will be saved.  Love is the most important element of Christianity.  Such a simple Truth!  Why then are so many still seeking.  The Truth seems to be staring us in the face or is love like a diet?  Most people start on a diet only to lose a little weight and then gain it back again.  So we love a neighbor for a while and then go back to being greedy, selfish and mean-spirited?   Then we start seeking again for a new diet or a new path to love?  Perhaps a new person or a new job or a new place will help us find love?  Truth becomes an eternal search for love and not a set of absolute values that we can never lose.  Like the next diet, we are continually searching for something that we cannot hold onto, but everyone tells us is good for us.

So, is Truth an eternal infinite concept that permeates the universe and our humble lives and one we still have not found?  Or is Truth just a process.  The eternal search for something that we cannot hold onto; an elusive idea that just as soon as we think we have it, we inevitably begin to lose.  And so our search for Truth starts all over again.

I ponder the many mysteries of existence.  I quake at the problems in life I cannot solve.  I stress over the mundane trivial issues that confront me daily.  Then deep in the recesses of my mind, I start thinking about Truth.  What is Truth?  Where will I find it?  How long must I seek?  Can I find a shortcut?  Is anyone out there who really knows the Truth?  What will I do with it, if and when I find it?

In a short while, it’s time to watch a movie and forget about my search for Truth.  It will rear its head again all too shortly.  The local news will play it on endless reruns, lawyers on TV will adamantly declare that they have found it, Radio talking-heads will proclaim it nightly to their rapt and conscientious listeners, Wall Street brokers will sell it to you for a price and Madison Avenue pitchman will give you exclusive rights for no money down and low monthly payments.  Search no further, Truth is yours to be had for the right fee.  It won’t matter if you don’t know what it is, it’s cheap and disposable.  Tomorrow you can go out and get some more Truth.

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”  — Mark Twain

Time for Questions:

What does Truth mean to you?  Do you always tell the Truth?  What Truth is most important to you?  Have you found Truth or lost it?  Do you search for Truth or is Truth irrelevant to you?  When is it relevant?  Why?  Do you see a world with an abundance of Truth or a scarcity of Truth?  Do we need more Truth?

Life is just beginning.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. QMM
    Aug 07, 2013 @ 00:12:09

    The truth for me is “Do no harm.” in word or deed. Hope you are having a great summer John and Karen.

    Reply

  2. johnpersico
    Aug 07, 2013 @ 02:24:28

    Thanks for the comment. I like the idea.

    Reply

  3. Greg Gorman
    Aug 31, 2013 @ 16:53:42

    What is Truth?
    1. What does Truth mean to you?
    Truth as you spell it here with a capital T indicates the one true truth that unifies all the “little” truths without contradiction. This one Truth would be the foundation for the judgment of all activities. With this knowledge we ascertain whether or not our behaviors are ethically sound.
    There is a statement which has been debated since man first looked at the stars and is the basis of all subjective reality: Perception is reality. How can reality be, and its truths be, anything other than subjective. Even if all the world thinks differently, if one can’t accept it then in their world it’s not true.
    Think of all the scientists, religious and political leaders, philosophers, writers, artists and poets who have stood against the existing “truths” of their day, and stood firm of their own convictions, sometimes never to be vindicated until after their death.
    The evolutionary development of our understanding of the universe and our place in it, demands an open and investigative attitude towards truth. However, it seems undeniable that, at least for me, perception is reality, and whatever explains the behaviors of your reality is Truth.
    2. Do you always tell the Truth?
    Once again, this depends on one’s conception of Truth. After all, many truths that exist can exist simultaneously. There’s the truth that one has do those activities that support one’s own existence. There is the truth that someday we all shall die, and there is factual reporting of what has transpired in our life.
    So when stopped by a policeman while driving when drinking, and the officer asks if you have been drinking, then you know if you are charged with a DWI, you could lose your license, which could lead to losing your job, which could lead to losing your home, which could create enough stress to lose your house and family. So in order to be true to the selected truth of “supporting one own existence” then saying that you haven’t had anything to drink is the response most consistent with that truth. And so, in response to your question, my answer is almost completely yes.
    3. What Truth is most important to you?
    I believe that a universal Truth exists and someday I will be conscience of it.
    4. Have you found Truth or lost it?
    Everyone finds and loses, modifies and reestablishes their truths many times throughout their lives. For example, Mommy and Daddy can do anything; Santa Claus brings me presents; if my soul is pure I’ll go to heaven; I have free will; my children carry a part of me into the future; might makes right; evolution modifies everything every day, etc., all just a few of the truths that might direct our behaviors during our lives. Given these truths are contradictory; one cannot be accepted unless the other loses its truth value.
    So in answer to the question, I must reply yes and yes because the conditions of your question are mutually exclusive.
    5. Do you search for Truth or is Truth irrelevant to you?
    The search for Truth is daily activity for me. However, it had become irrelevant several times in my life, most notably while I was scuba diving in the Marshall Islands. Many times I would be diving, sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, and I would notice a shark or sharks following me or buzzing me. At that time, I was no longer a seeker of universal truth, nor an engineer, or father, clearly, I was only food. This humbling yet accurate perception contained a truth without contradiction. All other truths became painfully irrelevant.
    6. When is it relevant? Why?
    Truth is most relevant when you must make a decision with long term consequences which has the capacity to define you as person.
    7. Do you see a world with an abundance of Truth or a scarcity of Truth?
    If we define truth as an accurate and open analysis of the events of the world, then I would say there is a scarcity of truth. Our news services are at best biased and at worst disingenuous. One cannot create a valid understanding of what is true universally without an honest objective and inclusive rendition of events locally.
    8. Do we need more Truth?
    Do you mean more truths, or a better understanding of Truth? I’m all in favor of a better understanding of all forms of truth, with the caveat, that truth evolves as man evolves and we all need to be respectful to each of its manifestations.

    Reply

    • johnpersico
      Sep 04, 2013 @ 14:31:57

      I still do many trail runs and with cougars, bears and wolves out there I always remember the comment that “Any time you set foot on a trail, you become part of the food chain.” I do not do much thinking about truth on my runs but I do get a great deal of ideas when out there that translate into blogs for me. I am not sure if I really believe in truth or not. I just find it curious that with so many people searching for so long, we are still looking. Maybe it simply does not exist or maybe it just keeps changing or maybe we would not recognize it if we saw it.

      Reply

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