I was told recently that thirty or so years ago while I was dealing with the version of my life that I fondly recall as the “train-wreck” period, a.k.a. what happens when you delay your mid-life crisis in order to finish your doctorate, thereby putting off the real problems which will eventually sink your ship, a dear friend once said to my son, “Your father is looking for something.”
Would that I had known that then, because from where I sat, lay, stood on my head, and even grovelled, it was not all that clear. In fact, he was exactly right and today I can even tell you what it was that I was looking for – my truth!
Perhaps that sounds a bit pretentious. After all who can claim to know the truth. Well, I do not, but I do know my truth, and I have fought long and hard to find it. If you are up to it, come along on a short journey through the pathless land, and we’ll see what comes up.
So, what is truth? Is there a truth? Are there universal truths? Good questions and not easily answered, nor is it easy to arrive at an agreement among even a handful of people. But frankly, I do not care a lot about what others think. Around twenty-five years ago, as I was beginning to see light at the end of trainwreck tunnel, I was given a small, used book for Christmas. The book was Krishnamurti’s Journal. I did not get around to reading it for a year or two, but when I did, it was the beginning of the real search for my truth. If you want to know more about Jiddu Krishnamurti, I suggest you look him up. He was an interesting man. You wouldn’t go amiss if you read one or two of his works, but I think that, by far, his greatest teaching was this simple phrase, “Truth is a pathless land.” That says all one really needs to know about how one finds truth. There is no set path; you just keep looking until you find it.
How will you know when your have found it? You just will. It won’t be some other person’s definition. It is unlikely that it will be found etched on the side of a building, on a coin, or in a book entitled All the Truths Under the Sun. It will not likely be something that was passed on to you by your parents or teachers. It will take hard work. You will have to make a lot of mistakes, and you might even have to start over a couple of times. But you can find it if it really matters to you.
About twenty or so years ago, I realized that what I was looking for was “my truth”, and that is what I have spent the intervening years looking for, and I have found it, but I am not telling. Why? Because it doesn’t matter. Remember, it’s my truth. Krishnamurti said something else, and I paraphrase, “there are no teachers, there are no gurus, there are no experts”. You are on your own essentially. You can seek advice, read books, spend thousands on fake prophets, but in the end, you have to make sense of it yourself.
Although I am selfishly not going to share my discoveries, I will give you a few hints about where to look and how to go about it, but even that advice you must take with a grain of salt because, ultimately, it’s your journey, and they will be your decisions.
I used to have a quotation up on the bulletin board of my grade seven and eight classroom. It was attributed to A. N. Onymous and it said, “the person who cannot make a mistake cannot make anything.” That appealed to me because, although I was still in my thirties, I had already made lots of mistakes; it gave me hope. Over the years, I have come to accept the truth of this statement even more. If you cannot risk screwing up, it is unlikely that you will ever move far from that comfortable place where you are rooted. The first qualification for truth seeking is do not be afraid of being wrong or making a mistake and do not pre-judge your decisions.
Beware of the dreaded near-sighted monster known as - Confirmation Bias. Basically, this is when you judge the right or wrong or good or bad of something by how it seems to you. It’s a form of prejudice – that means prejudging and it’s not useful for finding truth, especially yours since you are likely making that judgement from an uninformed state of mind.
Yes, I know I did say it was your truth, but let’s face it, by the time you hit your thirties, you are so full of ideas that have been thrown at you over the years that you are in no fit state to judge anything. It is not easy. It took me till my early seventies to finally rid my mind of the bias that had been holding me back for most of my life, and I was shocked to finally find out what it was. It was something that had been drilled into my head from childhood. How did I do that? I read a lot including self-help, philosophy, spirituality, science, and a ton of fiction. Fiction is loaded with truth if you pay attention. I wrote a lot of poems and essays and a few books and eventually It began to be come clearer. Ultimately, you must find what is holding you back and you must deal with it. I was able to let it go and it felt so good.
Another barrier to finding your truth is getting caught up in other’s truths. I think of them as false truths. Just because another person believes something or even if a whole lot of others believe something doesn’t make it true. I hate to say it, but that includes your parents, the government, the church, or any other institution. Of course, they might be right, but you must decide. Blindly accepting is never a positive way to grow.
Finally, you have to break your dependencies. These may not be drug dependencies, but they act like drugs and they hold you back. I discovered quite late in life that I had always been afraid of striking out on my own. I always wanted someone to accompany me. I am not sure why, but I do know that my decision to go off to China at age fifty-eight was the best thing I ever did for finding my truth. I was alone without even one word of Mandarin, but I was not afraid, and it was liberating.
I hope some of these thoughts have connected with you. I cannot tell you exactly how to find your truth, but I can assure you it exists. How do I know? Because it is the only thing that makes sense for me and that is my truth - sorry you have to find your own.
I am the author of The Summer of the Ennead and I want to use this blog to engage readers in a dialogue about what this book means to me and what I think it has to say to others.