Recommended by a dear friend, I signed up for “Notes from the Universe”1—brief daily emails of thought-provoking wisdom and inspiration. The other day, the message was about truth:
Nothing heals, helps, cures, mends, builds, clears, stabilizes, fixes, balances, restores, corrects, inspires, enables, empowers, enlightens or tickles better than the truth. Ask for it by name.
I immediately knew this was my next blog post topic but then I wondered, How do I know what’s really true? As usual, my Muse took me on a journey of thoughts and questions . . .
In a google search, one article said the only truth is something we personally observe. But aren’t we all susceptible to biases, rose-colored glasses, and more? Other articles took me down a rabbit hole about epistemology and had my head spinning like when I was an undergraduate studying philosopher Immanuel Kant.2,3 I remembered distinctions like a priori knowledge (derived from reason and theoretical deduction) and a posteriori knowledge (derived from observations or experiences; an empirical fact). Yikes. Brain on tilt.
So I decided to use some dictionary definitions of truth as a springboard for my Muse-ing: “a fact or belief that is accepted as true” and “that which is in accordance with fact or reality” . . .
Some thoughts on “a fact or belief that is accepted as true”:
- Competing truths. The Capitol rioters fervently accepted as true that the 2020 election was corrupt, fraudulent, and stolen—a “fact” that a whole lot of other people do NOT accept as true. This may partly come down to what aligns with personal values. So whose values are “correct”?
- Truthful, credible sources—or not. QAnon followers believe an anonymous source “Q” while many other people believe different sources, for example, their tribe’s TV news hosts. And yet can any of us personally determine if our sources are completely trustworthy?
- Malevolent truths. Some of what Q says may be true (I don’t know exactly what Q espouses). But I’ve heard that Q claims that some horrific offenses have been committed by “the enemy” and apparently calls for their mass arrest and even execution. And some followers apparently used that as justification to act out their own tendency toward hatred, violence, racism, resentment, and anger. How does any of that help to co-create a global New Paradigm of peace, tolerance, etc.?
- Religious truths. Religious precepts are spelled out in various documents and decrees written by “inspired” human beings (like in the Bible) or proclaimed by “official” human beings (like the Pope). But those truths can manifest as capricious rules like not eating meat on Friday, not eating pork, or not drinking alcohol; or they can manifest as deadly violence like Right to Lifers murdering clinic doctors, or leaders waging “Holy Wars.” So how do we know which religious precepts are “true” vs. just originated by perfectly imperfect human beings?
- Self-evident truths. If there really are any “self evident truths” (requiring no explanation or proof), what are they? For example, are these true as stated in the U.S. Declaration of Independence? But they only apply to (white) men?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Some thoughts on “that which is in accordance with fact and reality”:
- Assessments vs. assertions. Previously, I made a distinction here from my Life Coach training between assessments (opinions) and assertions (facts). Assertions are described as being verifiable by a commonly-agreed upon standard or measurement. For example, “This table is 36 inches high” is a fact because I can measure it with a standard ruler. But what’s the ruler for truth??
- Cherrypicked beliefs and truths. Many of us cherrypick our spiritual beliefs and truths, but using what criteria? For me, something just “feels right” in my gut. But some of what I thought were gut feelings have been in error, so can I always trust my gut to recognize what’s “true”?
- Evolving/changing facts and truth. For much of recorded history, human beings have looked to great thinkers and authorities or to powerful institutions like the Catholic Church as the ultimate source of truth and wisdom. But once upon a time, didn’t they all claim the earth was flat, and didn’t they persecute herbal medicine healers as witches?
So how do we know what’s true and what’s the truth? What criteria can we use for judging something to be true? Maybe that it’s “reasonable,” it “makes sense”? It’s consistent with other related “facts”? It’s grounded in credible evidence? It’s put forward by someone whom we judge to be trustworthy? It’s something we actually see with our own eyes?
Jeez, I wish I had some solid answers to all of these questions. Instead, what I’m left with are some personal conclusions:
- I’ll continue to hold my core beliefs as truths but will remain open to new or evolving evidence.
- I’ll continue to take in news and other information but, unless I can somehow verify it to a great extent, I’ll take it with a grain of salt and “live in the question” for topics and issues that are important to me.
- I’ll question the veracity of anything or anyone that espouses concepts or inspires actions not of the Light—not based on or manifested as love, peace, respect, tolerance, etc.
- I’ll continue to exercise the muscle of my inner-knowing to try to identify a genuine gut feeling (inner-knowing) vs. a rush to an opinion based on what seems to be credible evidence.
Why is any of this important? Inspired by that same friend mentioned above, I realized that truth is connected to everything I’m guided to write about here. Maybe because what matters is that we each determine “What’s true for me?” and are guided by that on our Path, including working on all the “guideposts.” And maybe instead of looking outward for someone else to tell us what we should believe as true, we need to look inward and identify “What’s true for me?” for ourselves. So . . .
Your assignment, if you choose to accept it:
* Observe what you hold to be true, and think about how you determine it’s true.
* Observe how your truths come into play in your daily life.
A final thought: as challenging as it may be sometimes, I believe we need to respect other people’s choices as they find their own truth and follow their own Path, whether or not we agree with their choices and truths. But what do we do when their truths and Paths cause destruction, injury, or even the death of others? Well, maybe that’s where just and appropriate accountability comes into play. And I think we need to determine and implement that accountability as a civilized society. (Although that may pose its own challenges.)
I’m sure there are a lot of other points to be made about truth. With the entire field of epistemology devoted to studying it, knowledge and truth are definitely complex topics. But all of this is certainly interesting food for thought.
So what do you think? What are your truths? And how do you determine them to be true?
1 “Notes from the Universe” signup.
2 “How do you know that what you know is true? That’s epistemology” online article.
3 “Epistemology” in-depth Britannica.com entry.