The subject of truth is one littered with booby traps and dead ends. The truth is something we all have an opinion about. This week I overheard a woman sadly ask her companion, “Does the truth even matter anymore?” I resisted the urge to interrupt her conversation with my own opinion.
It would be easy to turn this blog post into an opinion-filled rant, but I’ll resist that urge, too. Instead of a rant, some simple reflections on the truth might be a better way to spend the next few moments.
It is said that Shakyamuni Buddha taught that three things cannot be hidden for very long: the Sun, the Moon, and the Truth. This seems to be a valid observation. Obviously the celestial bodies are visible much of the time. Even on overcast days, we understand that they are present. The truth is a little more elusive, but it is always present.
When the truth is obscured by lies, many times those lies are very elaborate. An alibi is a well-constructed fiction masquerading as truth. Sooner or later the story breaks down and falls away. It seems like people who communicate in lies, spend more time and energy defending and justifying untruth.
Much energy and money is spent manufacturing disinformation. We often hear the term “spin”. Of course spin is just a synonym of lying. Authorities and communications bureaus have been spinning for many years. The subject of propaganda is fascinating to study. The Nazi, Josef Goebbels wasn’t the first person to effectively use it and he certainly wasn’t the last one. Goebbels was adept at using it as a very effective weapon against humanity.
The skillful propagandist knows that it is beneficial to his or her cause to tell the public what they want to hear. The propagandist understands that the public harbors many harmful lies, so it important to validate popular misunderstandings, focus on those misunderstandings, incite fear and anger using those mis-truths, then use the public to accomplish the propagandist’s goals. This is why the public often thinks and acts against the benefit of society.
So truth is easily defined by what it is not. Still the solid nature of basic truth exists regardless of willful ignorance, neglect, disinformation, or lack of understanding. The truth remains waiting to be discovered by anyone desiring the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Good parents instruct their children about compassion, kindness, honesty, and truth. They show their offspring the value of these aspects when dealing with other people and themselves. They teach their children that it is harmful to others and to themselves to lie. Wise parents teach their children that some of the worst lies are those they tell to themselves.
To live a truthful life is to live a life of integrity. To live a life of integrity is to live a full and expansive life. To live a dishonest life is to live a disintegrated life. When one lives an untruthful life, the person must be wary of what is said, and to whom what is said. In most cases living a truthful life is far less complicated than living an untruthful life.
We all intuitively know the beauty and simplicity of the truth, but sometimes we need to be reminded about this fact. The truth of the matter is yes, the truth does matter.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes the philosopher don Miguel Ruiz. “Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your word in the direction of truth and love.”