What is your concept of the truth, and why is it germane to the practice of your life?
Well think about it. If you live your life according to things that you believe are true, and they’re only partially true or flat out wrong, what do you think the impact would be on your life?
Throughout history people believed in many things that we know now are not true. The earth is not the centre of the universe, diseases like the plague are not afflictions of the poor, there is no superior race and men are not meant to rule over women. But even today some people will argue some of these points and don’t believe in evolution or that it’s possible for humans to affect the climate.
All of these false beliefs and half-truths have tremendous consequences for how we live together. For the most part, my way or the highway beliefs lead to separation, strife and conflict. We literally kill each other because of our beliefs.
How do we know what we know? it’s amazing that epistemology—the branch of philosophy that deals with this question—is not taught at school.
We’re not taught to validate sources, we’re not taught that we could only be seeing part of the truth; we’re not taught that under certain conditions one thing is the truth, and under other conditions something completely opposite could be true. We’re not taught to look at truth as an ongoing conversation about authentic inquiry into the way things are, were and could be. We’re not taught to see truth as an ongoing conversation that constantly builds and deepens our connection to the world, each other, and to ourselves.
And we’re not taught to see our truth as only one part or perspective on the truth. Just like the blind men who encounter an elephant for the first time and touch different parts of it to get a sense of what it is. Imagine the conversations they had at dinner afterwards.
So it’s left to us to explore truth on our own, and the place to start is by giving up our monopoly on the truth and by being open to the possibility that we could be at least partly wrong on many things that we currently believe. It’s not so bad. Really. it’s a first step to real understanding, forgiveness, and the exploration of reality as whatever we want it to be.