Here is Chapter 2 from my book, The Art of Teaching. It is entitled “Truth.” I will display the chapter itself in regular text. If I have any comments to make throughout, I will provide those in italics and red color.
Truth is unyielding and unalterable. Its existence does not require fact, science, religion, compromise, perspective, negotiation, or vindication. Even justice cannot create it; only uphold it and submit to its boundaries. Personally, I find these ideas to be fairly straightforward, as well as foundational and comforting. I can have a hard time when aspects of my life begin to exist outside my control. Remembering that’s an integral part of living helps keep me grounded. However, just because the truth is unyielding doesn’t mean I can’t question or test its boundaries. In my opinion, to do so inspires most, if not all, valuable change and quality of living. Going back to the simple existence of truth, I stand that humanity does not have the power to create truth. The “right and wrong” of the universe existed far before any of us, and we are subject to that. That doesn’t mean we can’t find our ways within it. Equality is not interchangeable with the truth but becomes a principle and an extension when used in harmony with it. This is so important. Truth cannot be routinely relegated as the same as equality. At least, equality as humanity understands it. The variation involved in the human condition rationalizes, justifies, and oppositely condemns those pieces that aren’t “fitting into its agenda.” All humans have the right to be treated equally; of that, I do not argue. But to be treated equally and be subjugated to truth are not always the same thing. So when we use pure truth to support the equalization of life amongst individuals, that’s when they share any sort of similarity or breath. Validation has nothing to do with truth and has the potential to engorge and distort the minds of those who try to justify it so. This presents an interesting train of thought. The natural proof of the world doesn’t need us to exhaust ourselves to say it exists. It merely is, and we bear the state of our mind within that. However, this concept can be seen as hypocritical when the truth is discovered, and someone wants to share it to make sure the whole world knows—because not everybody does, obviously. To educate and enhance the life around you is a noble cause in many instances. I present the idea of validation having nothing to do with truth to warn us that our efforts to define or present some wholesome speck of the universe in its entirety can be a dangerous road. Think of the earth itself. We have no need to validate that we live on a solid section on earth because everyone on this planet lives the exact same way. Before that, hopefully, we’ve allowed something to exist as it is without our championing it. Humanity is capable of incredible feats, but a negative one we do often is interposing our will onto something before taking into account what it was on its own.
A common theme shared across people of all times, locations, mentalities, beliefs, philosophies, governments, and educations is that truth is relative to each person and, therefore, up for interpretation in all aspects. This understanding is false. This isn’t to be confused with someone’s personal truth, which I discuss below. Instead, this idea is meant to introduce how we choose to perceive and construct our life. Most of the time, I argue, is spent attempting to bend the world to how I’ve come to see it, or want to see it, instead of allowing my life to bend me into a growing, healthy, vibrant person. Like anything, it’s a balance of knowing when to give and when to take. It is true, however, that when looking at a specific person and assessing their current state, the truth of that person becomes clear. It is also true that as a person lives their life, they live their version of the truth. I view this as one of the critical components of a person’s character and personality. While unalterable and personal truths are vastly different in many cases (These two are discussed more at length below), they are both absolutely essential to a decent living. I am currently learning the inherent value in living by my decision, and what I know now, versus having spent so much time waiting until I “knew” what to do or how to do it. This contrast then presents and stimulates the idea that two versions of the truth are now evident: personal truth and unalterable truth (this is not to be confused with belief and opinion).
Unalterable truth exists regardless of what our personal experiences or determined notions may be, because it does not care. We may fight and argue against it until the day we die and beyond, yet that will not make this version of truth different. It is immune to morality. It is immune to willpower. Instead, we are at its mercy, and we are given a choice to accept it or fight it. In my opinion, this is one of the hardest things for the general existence of humanity to accept, especially in our modern era. We hate the idea that there are things we can’t have exactly the way we want them, and we’re losing just how precious that is. There has to be at least one thing we cannot change. Otherwise, we’ll never know the beauty of what can. Conversely, if we spend our entire lives always evolving and moving and adjusting, we’ll never find solidarity, love, passion, or commitment. Unalterable truth keeps us humble, hungry, involved, aware, and moving forward.
One could argue that personal truth is not a truth at all; a person’s experience over time leads them to change this perception of truth, or perhaps reveal more of the puzzle they previously understood. We may then conclude that this version is not the truth at all. It is experience, or more simply put, perspective and perception. While I term it “perspective and perception,” I also don’t want to leave the impression that I’m neglecting the reality of one’s sense of personal truth. I know that I have my own facts, complete in their solo acquirement, and many of my friends and family do not understand them. I indeed have these things. Make no mistake. The observance of our own realities does not justify the prioritization of them over or above another human being or set, unalterable truth. I am at the sun’s mercy, not the other way around.
Undertaking the journey for truth is not limited or restricted to a set group or person. All individuals who desire it can discover it. I love this! I love it, I love it, I love it! All life is a gift to everyone partaking in it. If anyone attempts to tell you otherwise, then they are deceiving you and themselves. Never fall under the delusion that you can’t learn, acquire, grow, or exceed. There is no single person on this planet who can claim total control over any facet of knowledge to the point of monopolizing it. To try that only brings sadness and despair. The revelation of truth, on the other hand, will only be for those who are willing to accept it when they find it. Another common theme amongst peoples is that time, effort, money, or sacrifice spent in search of truth should yield to them a matching version of the truth when they “find it”; some measurable quantity that matches everything they poured into their endeavor. If that were the case, they would receive the same answer they had going into the search in the first place. This scenario negates the idea that they ever attained truth, or possibly even sought after it. We don’t always get to determine what something means, how it works, what it offers, or what happens when we find it. If we really want to uncover something, we need to relinquish the idea of control and focus on pursuing it with a pure heart and unadulterated effort. And you know what, sometimes you don’t find anything when all is said and done; sometimes you see everything. If you harbor an expectation of the result, you may miss the wealth apparent.
Self-gratification and truth are not the same things. They are not even related. Truth does not care about money, social standing, friends or relationships, political influence, military power, wisdom, or knowledge. If this doesn’t make sense, I’m worried about you. It does care about being discovered. It wants to be recognized for what it is and used as the best possible positive influence it can be. I know it’s interesting to personify the essence of truth after I’ve explained how it has no inclination, cares, or respect for anyone. This is a personal application of thought that helps me see further into what I’m studying or pondering. If I were to give the concept of truth some sort of tangible mortality, I see it as a creature that wants to be found and appreciated; an altruistic form in our cynical, backwater world. In another vein, I also believe that there is a God, and He uses truth as a tool for his purposes. He may be God, but He is subject to the words he says, and science, law, and truth are included in those words. The apple that fell onto Isaac Newton’s head did not care if it hit the ground or a person. In fact, it possessed no inclination at all.
When compared to knowledge, truth sits higher. Generally accepted as a combination of truths and opinions, knowledge, therefore, constitutes a dilution of truth from its purest form. Intelligence represents the bread crumbs that keep us interested and shows us there is always more. Knowledge is power, and there is incredible power in truth. On the flip side, it is true that knowledge and truth can be the same thing, but only through acceptance and the yielding to knowledge’s descent from it. Two professors of the same science can be obligated to their very different yet respected opinions and experiences; they then possess knowledge and not the truth. If they both possess truth, their knowledge will not differ and their opinions will not conflict. This vast disparity is what drives human beings towards truth, but also has the potential to keep them so distant from it. Again, I find this clear and self-explanatory.
Obtaining the truth depends on the work put into achieving it, and the ability to forego personal preference. Some truths require sacrifice; others require senses. Some truths defy convention, while others stand out stark and contrasted against any backdrop. Some truths take years to find, and others hide just beyond the peripheral vision. It’s all part of the fun, really. “Anything worth having in this life is difficult,” as the old adage is prone to go. But “difficult” isn’t the only term out there for life. We all have our own adventures to fulfill, our own discoveries to make, our own paths to truth, or our own Personal Legends to discover (This is a term taken from The Alchemist, and one I love). More often than not, a truth discovered will be simple. However it comes, all truths request care and respect when being handled.
Anytime someone finds the truth, they face the question, “Am I willing to change my life to follow this?” Whether to accept or reject is the real test of possessing truth. And here it is. The final thought for most avenues walked. To accept or reject. The choice ultimately falls on you, but here are some things for consideration. To make it to the end and find the truth waiting is a blessing. If it’s not how you imagined or you reject it, that doesn’t make it less true. If you accept it, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it in the future. And if you choose to take it and do nothing with it, then it becomes nothing. Your expectation of an outcome doesn’t dictate what that outcome will be. Only after you’ve found peace in yourself along the way, opened up your heart and mind to what is revealed, will you then be able to make a proper and pertinent decision of what to do.
This is truth versus knowledge.