How To Find The Truth In a World of Lies series, part I
To start off this post, I want to draw your attention to a few truisms. I like truisms. The human race isn’t very intelligent, so sometimes we still need to learn from truisms before we move on to less obvious truths.
What I wanted you to consider was this:
Everyone thinks they know how the world really is.
And they have to! If they didn’t think that their beliefs were true then they wouldn’t be able to get a start on anything.
Everyone has a different idea of how the world really is.
You get where I’m going here?…
If everyone thinks differently, what makes your idea of how the world really is so special that you KNOW that it is correct?
In this series of articles I’m going to be challenging your way of viewing the world and showing you how to find the truth in a world of lies.
How to realize you don’t know it all
I was a pretty smart-assed kid. I found classes too easy and had an idea of myself as some super-genius, and even then I had a bone to pick with the establishment, so I used to spend assembly times sniggering at anything religious as if to make a point. I loved to be right. To be fair on myself, I was eight years old.
At that time I thought I had the universe figured out at a basic level. We are machines made out of atoms and molecules. Consciousness is a sort of illusion. When we die, consciousness ends. Science can understand everything. If we had a big enough computer, we could simulate a human being just by understanding the mechanics of atoms.
But round about then I had a strange epiphany. It struck me so hard that I still remember vaguely the actual moment. I realized, “If I want to keep being right, I will have to admit I am wrong to be able to improve my ideas. Otherwise I’ll just mire myself in self-delusion while everyone else overtakes me.”
Being a super-genius is hard work.
Nowadays I wonder, if I could go back in time and meet my past self, whether he’d like me or if I’d even like him. Now I firmly believe in life after death, a higher power that guides and protects us, psychic abilities, astrology and telekinesis. I’m vegan, earn money doing energy healing, and consider prayer to be a helpful tool in getting things done. I think he would think I went nuts somewhere along the way. Astrology???
Eventually I started out in earnest in my struggle to find out how to be healthy and happy and fulfil my yearning for life to be something more than the pathetic package that seemed to have been assigned to me. Despite how everyone seemed to suggest that life was fine as it is, I knew at least not to believe them. I’m a super-genius, OK? So I got into psychology and psychotherapy. I quickly gravitated to the more alternative areas such as NLP and hypnosis, but I tended to get uncomfortable when they expressed unscientific ideas such as Universal Intelligence. Still, I knew they had something at least. So I kept reading.
The next encounter with “fringe” science was in Quantum Mechanics. I read a book on it and came out with the strange feeling that Quantum was something profoundly important for some reason I couldn’t quite grasp. For the moment it went to the back of my mind, but I kept coming back to a fascination in it. I know why now. It just didn’t fit with my fundamental beliefs in a robotic reality. In Quantum Mechanics, there is some crazy, crazy pattern that seems to suggest that consciousness affects the way reality behaves! Anything but that! (Many scientists are in denial about the ramifications of Quantum Mechanics).
I kept studying and questioning. But it took a long time and a lot of bravery to come to question the most basic foundations of my reality.
Building and destroying
I see honing a belief system as something like building a house. It’s quite easy to place one brick on top of another. But what if the first bricks you laid were in the wrong place? You’d have to stop putting more bricks on top of them. It’s uncomfortable to do, but you’ll have to undo your own hard work in order to start building a wall in a better place. Otherwise, no matter how much effort you spend on making a perfect wall, you’ll still have a bad job on your hands.
My error was to keep building when I should have been destroying my belief systems. I accumulated knowledge without challenging what knowledge I thought I already had. Eventually I got to the point where I went virtually mad. (It didn’t help that I was the stay-at-home type at that time). My ideas about reality were so out of sync that practically anyone would have been able to see it except me.
There’s the trouble: letting go of beliefs can be scary. Eckhart Tolle would tell you that you have identified with your beliefs… which means, according to the word’s latin roots, to make yourself the same as your beliefs. I = belief. So destroying a belief can feel like dying. It’s much more comfortable to accumulate beliefs. (Especially when you feel like you need to be a super-genius to be loved).
This is what we call humility (or earthliness as the word literally means). Humility might not seem like a really great quality to cultivate, but that’s only when you see humility as trying to do a favour for others. Humility isn’t about others, it’s about you. It’s refusing to build a tower that sooner or later will have to fall down. I’m not overly fond of self-abasement myself, but I use humility where it’s practical.
Socrates was famous for saying “all I know is that I know nothing”. That’s a good mantra to have. In fact, the more I’ve explored reality from different points of view the better I’ve become at admitting that what I believe could be wrong.
On the other hand, you always will think you know what you know. It’s just how we work: we need to have a map of reality to use, and we can’t doubt it, or we’ll never take a step. But learn to get comfortable using the word “belief” for what you think you know, as a concession to the possibility that what other people think they know could be right, and be welcoming of challenges to your belief systems. The more your belief systems are challenged the better they become. Challenges destroy the useless while crystallizing what is closer to the real truth.
Going against the grain
I needed bravery to destroy my own beliefs. But I also needed bravery to go against the social group I identified with. In fact I’m still learning this bravery, as I’m sometimes still uncomfortable in talking about what I believe in in case a scientific bogeyman jumps out of the closet and eats me for being too new-agey.
In case anyone is where I was I want to say this: whenever you have a belief system that is part of a social group, you have censorship. Yes, even in Science. The social group draws boundaries and says “this is where we start and end; if you step outside the line you don’t have a right to be a part of our group.” It’s a very tribal thing. Possessed by the primal fear of not being accepted by your tribe, you choose to conform your reality to the group reality.
So this was my second error. When I was exploring psychology and trying to find myself, I kept on thinking that Science was infallible and held the last word on truth in this world. Nowadays I think that you can know anything, seriously anything, if you take responsibility and make the effort to find the truth for yourself. No authority is good enough to save you from responsibility, grasshopper.
So I came to a point where I started finding some really great insights and got excited. I was making a grand discovery! I was going to change the world and push back the frontiers of science!
The joke was on me, of course. I was discovering spirituality, and the reason science didn’t take into account the insights I was getting was because of social censorship.
Rewriting my reality
So one day not too long ago I noticed I still felt uncomfortable in my beliefs. So I sat down and wrote in my journal, “What is the most basic truth of my reality?” I wanted to get right down to the foundations again.
I came up with this. And until the next post in the series, this is how I’ll wrap up the article. I’d love to hear what you think about anything discussed here.
“I am consciousness.
“I am exploring myself.
“I am the avatar.
“I affect myself.
“There is joy and there is suffering.
“I want joy, and I have the power to create it.
“Things matter; those which I choose to make matter.
The next post in the series: How to use the mind.