“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde
Seems everybody is looking for the bottom line or decides they have already found it. This applies to everything from the deepest most profound issues, like the purpose of life, to the most mundane like, “What should we have for dinner?”
This is the world of opinion. Opinions are just perspectives. Even the ‘laws’ of physics are not really true. Newton’s laws are ultimately just approximations. That is what special relativity is all about! Even mathematics is just an approximation. One plus one equals two? Show me a perfect ‘one’ of anything. Plato got that right a long time ago with the notion of Plato’s Theory of Forms.
But let’s take it down to the grassroots, real world, daily life, practical level. Who has the real story on anything? We are all juggling between this and that: Pragmatic vs. idealistic, what you saw vs. what they saw, half empty vs. half full, the endless paradoxes of this vs. that. There is no end to it.
Wisdom just isn’t black and white. Yet, we are all faced with ‘this or that’ decisions from moment to moment. For every decision you make, there is someone out there who would judge it as wrong. Chances are, given enough time, you too will end up judging yourself.
Wisdom is really a fascinating thing. What is it really? What is its basis? Where does it come from? What perspective does it hold? Does it ever have a solid conviction about anything? Or are the ‘wise’ just a wishy-washy benign and nebulous cloud of ‘not knowing’ anything for absolute certain?
If we insist upon the notion of ‘Truth,’ then we must understand that Truth is not concrete. Why? Because Truth transcends perspective. Truth transcends relativity. “Truth,” by its very definition, is Absolute. It is an abstraction. It is not of this material world. It is unbounded by opinion or perspective.
Yet we live in a world that is relative. So, even the wise must act in a relative world, even though they see beyond it… even though they know better! Oscar Wilde said that truth is rarely pure. He got that right. Truth is only pure (Absolute) when it is not relative, not of this world. The wise live that. It is not just a notion for them. It is a living reality. Yet, even for them, life is an ongoing sequence of one decision after another. Often those decisions come with great conviction and commitment. But more often, they come with the understanding of multiple perspectives. They do not over-stand life. They under-stand life. Humility is built right into the word ‘understanding’.
Now, it is easy enough to comprehend this notion of Truth and wisdom. But to understand it is quite another thing. To understand it is to live it. To live it is to understand it. To live it is far more than to just comprehend it as a concept. And to live it? That is not so easy to do. In fact, it cannot be simply comprehended and then done. If it could, we would all have been enlightened many years ago. Living Truth, while living in this world of relativity, is a state of being. It is a state of physiology. It is a state that is not understood by those who are of this relative world. In fact, those who are of this world judge Truth as just another relative perspective. To live Truth is to “be in this world but not of it”. Truth lies beyond this world. Find Truth within the depth of your being. Over time, integrate the polar opposites of the Absolute and the relative. To do so is to see beyond the horizon. To do so is to become wise.
We can investigate the relative, essential, nonconceptual, and the absolute with the mind, but what makes us ultimately know something is true a sense in the heart. To become intimate with Truth one must be open to express from the heart and be tender, vulnerable, honest, with integrity…
Yes Grace, well said. And the deepest value of the heart is the heart of one’s being. Emotions can mislead, but the heart of one’s being is eternally pure and True.
Thank you once again. In relationship with my mother who is forgetting things and misremembering events, names, who was there, who did what, etc. I have questioned my level of compassion and whether the truth really matters. Stories and what we remember and align with all evolve over time and are shadowed by our own lenses of distortion. It seems I am bringing my own heart to a new level of being.
I like what you said about truth transcending relativity, but I think one can easily slip into cross-realm projection with that. Some actions can have harmful and consequential impact on other people’s lives, which often times requires them to be addressed on the relative level simply for reasons of self-preservation and protection.
What a rich blog! I love all the examples, the twists and turns, pointing in many directions of wisdom. I can feel my tight grasp on particular realities loosening a little bit. Aaah.
I love all of these comments! Each underscores one aspect of this blog…. or another… I do treasure your comments, one and all…