Q: Do you believe in universal, or absolute, truths? People proclaim they know the Truths, but nobody agrees. What do you think?
A: Yes, I do believe in Universal/Absolute Truths, but I think everyone comes up with some version of their own, ones that make personal sense to them.
There’s some danger in stating them anywhere, because then you get into that whole “mine are better or truer than yours” thing. How in the world can anyone possibly think they know everything about the greater mysteries out there?
I sure as heck don’t claim to know everything. I only know what I know right now, and that will change in a few minutes.
We can start with some good, basic, sweeping truths, such as “love is all” and “respect others” and maybe even that good old Golden Rule that’s found in almost all world religions: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Here’s how it works: people get all excited about spiritual seeking, so they read a lot of stuff from other people who have done a lot of spiritual seeking. They figure out what makes sense to them, then they feel this sort of “aha” moment that tells them they have stumbled upon a truth—their truth.
But they get mixed up and then assume that because it’s so true for them, it must also be true for everybody else in the world, so they jump up on their soapboxes and start proclaiming The Truth (I’m guilty of that, as well—it’s human nature to want to spread the good news).
But in the process, the baby evangelists can alienate others who don’t happen to agree with them, by not respecting or listening to what anyone else has to say. Why should they? They know the Truth.
I even heard one cute woman tell me about one of these gurus who had Three Truths. I asked her how she knew this guy knew what they were, and she told me about how spiritual this guy was, how he was plugged in, how much reading he’d done, and on.
I asked her how his opinion was any more valid than hers, and she just cocked her head and looked at me, not understanding what I was saying.
It’s sometimes about that darned spiritual hierarchy again. So-and-so has written 20 books, so he knows what he’s talking about; so-and-so has meditated for 25 years, so she knows what she’s talking about; another is a psychic, so he’s more right than others.
I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s no hierarchy. Nobody’s better than anybody else; nobody’s opinion counts more than anyone else’s. We’re all in this together, trying to muddle through and figure stuff out so that it makes sense for us.
In the midst of all of the muck, we happen upon experiences that profoundly affect and shape us. Out of these experiences comes our Truths, tailor-made for us. Isn’t that neat?
Now, you can certainly agree with others if you compare notes, and that’s cool, too. But nobody’s going to agree 100% of the time, and that’s understandable.
We all come from different backgrounds and families and have different experiences. We are all shaped by different events, like rocks in the river.
Some are under the swift-flowing water so they are worn more smooth than the rocks found in the shallows, but that doesn’t mean anything—all of the rocks are in the same river.
You might want to start thinking about what your universal truths are. When I first started thinking about mine, it kept getting simpler and simpler until there was really only one left—love.
I know it might sound trite or sugar-coated, but seriously, in my opinion, that’s really about all there is, love, and any degree of perceived lack of love.
But it doesn’t necessarily matter to you what I think. What should matter to you is what you think, so start on that list of Truths, and keep referring back to it.
Edit it, change it, cross things out, add things. There’s no right or wrong, only discovery. That’s the beauty of this whole crazy trip called life: learning, uncovering, discovering, and above all, remembering who we really are.
That’s probably why nobody can agree on absolutely everything. It’s different for us all, because we are unique, every single one of us.
That’s the trick, and the beauty.
Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth…’ For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.
-Kahlil Gibran, “The Prophet”
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