Is Truth One, or Many?
“Permanent truth and permanent falsehood can exist only for a permanent man. If a man himself continually changes, then for him truth and falsehood will also continually change. And if people are all in different states at every given moment, their conceptions of truth must be as varied as their conceptions of good. A man never notices how he begins to regard as true what yesterday he considered as false and vice versa. He does not notice these transitions just as he does not notice the transitions of his own I’s one into another.”
~ George I. Gurdjieff
“What is the truth” is one of the main objective of spiritual quest throughout millennia; every spiritual seeker is searching for the truth about life, death, oneself, reality etc. We could say that everyone is seeking for deeper questions of life, regardless if they are of a religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheistic mindset, though the strength of the inner impulse that makes one question is of a different intensity, just like the intensity of the work for self-realization varies from one person to another.
The common use of the word “truth” dictates that the truth is that which is true; it is the opposite of that which is false; it is the word closely associated or synonymous with reality – that which has an objective reality, a shared reality, or a common reality that is experienced by everyone. For example, everyone who taste an apple will experience it as sweet, and everyone who taste a lemon will experience it as bitter; everyone who looks directly at the sun will be temporarily blinded by it, and everyone who wakes up from a nightmare will wake up in a disturbed emotional state. All these things are common to everyone. They are objective shared reality, and thus they are true.
From the standpoint of most or all genuine spiritual traditions, truth has stages that are directly related to the Source of all life – the closer we are to that source, the more we know the truth. In this physical dimension, our knowledge of the truth is limited by what our physical sense can perceive. As we develop spiritually, we become aware of other dimensions of life, which means our knowledge of truth expands. The truth has remained truth in both cases, but now the awareness of it has expanded, because now we see more of reality. The more of reality we see, the closer we are to the ultimate truth, which is the knowledge of the Source of Life, the Absolute.
The material world in which we live is illusional in comparison to the worlds (planes of existence) above us, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. It is true and real, because it was made from the substance that is spiritual in its core, and everyone here shares the same reality, as our senses, the mind, the subconsciousness, the consciousness, the spirit etc., function in more or less the same way.
The inner Being is of spiritual substance, and so by having the Being within we understand the truth of higher realities in a way that it wasn’t possible to know before that point. Interestingly, both Jesus and Buddha kept silent or walked away when they were asked what is the truth. In the case of Jesus, it happened when he was interrogated by Pontius Pilate:
“Then you are a king!” Pilate said. “You say that I am a king,” Jesus answered. “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
~ John 18:38
The inner Being is of the Absolute, and is part of the ALL, even when it exists in the Creation. The Being cannot really be described. Some of its qualities can be described, but the Being itself goes beyond words. When Spanish conquistadors asked a Mayan priest to describe his God, he inhaled deeply, and then loudly and slowly exhaled. It is how he could describe or express the Great Breath, the cyclic nature of the Manifested Absolute.
So, is truth one or many? Today there are many forms of spirituality that relativize truth and reality, stating that there are as many truths as there are people on Earth, that as we are so different, so are our truths different too. The problem with this is that the word “truth” cannot really be applied here, because if what is truth today turns out to be a falsehood tomorrow, then it wasn’t a truth in the first place. Or if one truth is discarded because another one appears better, can we call this truth? It is not, it is perception of reality, understanding of reality. The latter changes as we go through life, though it doesn’t have to have anything to do with objective reality. We CAN actually see more of objective reality if we are open to learning and not being stuck in negativity or in cemented belief systems, though it takes a serious work on oneself to make that change.
The people who want to adapt spirituality according to their beliefs, often time have very established view of life, which they want to project onto spiritual realities. What’s today known as “woke” is a good example of that. For example, if you tell to a deeply rooted woke person (who also has an interest in spirituality) that some parts of the Being are masculine and some feminine (because of the Universal law of polarity and gender), they might end up offended with that, disregarding what you said, choosing rather to believe that we all have our own truth. In reality, this is choosing ignorance, as ignorance is not only lack of knowledge, but refusing to acquire it.
To think that we all have our own truth, which changes or is replaced according to our progress or circumstance, is harmful for spiritual progress because the one and common reality is being relativized, and the perception of disunity is produced in one’s viewpoint, which is taking us away from the One Reality. By so doing, we are bounded to our safe bubble in which we can exist unharmed or unchallenged by other people’s views, always isolating them by putting everyone with different views in the “it is your truth” container. And like this our life passes, and we do not do what is necessary to ascend.
Rather than being a belief system, it is much better when spirituality is practical and scientific, where we try to get to the bottom of things, knowing that we are not stuck in our wishful thinking but are onto something real. Such path leads to real transformation and to acquisition of knowledge – not a truth that is real only in my or your mind, but something with concrete reality that supports it. We can arrive to knowledge and wisdom, and progressively know more and more of the truth, of the spiritual realities, and the nature of the Being etc., but we need to have a correct mindset, based in practicality and in search for objective Reality.
HDP, May 2022.