How do we Decide what is Actually True
The evolution of humanity is towards a greater and greater integration of Spirit with the World. Incarnating the Cosmic I am more and more deeply into our own bodies, we become engaged more and more deeply with the physical world. As we do so our sense for what is true and what is false changes.
As we journey, on our path of personal-spiritual development, we come into a region of the soul that is not yet grounded. At that point madness becomes a possibility. If we do not seek truth in the desert of our experience at this point, we can lose the plot. Knowing that there are three types of truth and how each one is relevant to us in the here and now, can help us to make the journey in safety.
The earliest truth is still the most fundamental in our deepest feelings. It is the simple awareness that I am. ‘Here I am, having this experience.’ At base, the realisation that my own existence is the most fundamental truth I can encompass is so visceral that in any crisis, we return to that truth. Critical illness, accident, or severe loss make the world go silent. “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,” In such a crisis every sense returns us to the one fact of our own existence.
This sense is always in us. Mostly it is overlaid with more complex thoughts and feelings, yet when we react to things from buried trauma (we all have it) it is from this centre of ‘self’ that we react. When we delve into our own consciousness in mysticism or deep psychology, we encounter again the almost hermetic awareness of the world as secondary, even dependent upon, the self.
In the social group this self-centred position creates what one might call a ‘Tribal Truth,’ expressed as ‘What we know to be true is the only truth, any other way of seeing, of worship, or of doing things is just wrong.’ The wars of history are fought or justified on this basis. Britain justified her empire on ‘Teaching the world right thinking’ America justifies hers on ‘Democracy is the only possible freedom.’ Supporting a team, a political party or a religion is based on this kind of truth. Our position within this support can be justified by all sorts of things. We defend it by pointing at the shadow of those we oppose and comparing it to the light that we espouse. Ultimately positions taken in this type of thinking are a deep conviction. They define us rather than we defining them.
The second type of truth is something that lies between my truth and yours. Empirical truth means looking from the periphery, neither from my centre, yours, nor anyone else’s. Science deals exclusively in empirical truth, the provable, experimentally repeatable, objectively dependable. The strength of this is in reducing disagreement. You and I can both see that experiment has proven theory, and been repeated by others in other places, creating a reliable fact. It is the great strength of empiricism that neither you, nor I, are invested in this. It does not matter what our opinion or desire is, the facts are the facts. It is a symptom of empiricism that from this un-invested perspective inner, immeasurable truths do not matter. Nothing that has neither weight, nor measure and cannot be counted has any place in this scheme of knowledge. For example, music, that moves the soul to heights and depths, that lifts the moment into the sublime, has no place. That moment of revelation that turned a life around, also has no place in this scheme, it is a non-fact. The very safeness of objectivity reduces the world to objects and robs it of meaning.
In a world created by empirical thinking the human being becomes a cipher, a number. The inner state of my self-experience, even my very spirit, is discounted as illusory. My education teaches me to ignore my own thoughts and feelings and to gen-up on what the experts have said. It teaches me to have no opinion that I cannot justify with quotes from experts, from research and report. Yet my ability to direct my life, to sustain a relationship, to manage a family are all dependent on my ability to understand and relate to my inner state of being. To this end we get psychology, another set of experts to interpret and then medicate my inner life. Empiricism also creates a view of nature as object, outside and therefore opposing us. It allows us to think of Nature as a resource rather than a home-habitat to be cared for simply because we are dependent up on her. BUT the upside of empiricism is in how it forces us to abandon our tribal allegiances and refresh our view with cool thinking. In separating ourselves from the tribal view, we come closer-in to ourselves. Empiricism allows individuation.
The third type of truth is that your inner life creates the world. In this understanding, Truth is that which creates goodness. If you keep your inner life aligned with what you know to be your highest potential, your guiding spirit, goodness will come from this. The shadow side of this is the use of this power of manifestation to create a world that serves wants and desires. The shift towards this truth that is happening today arises to some extent because empiricism allows for distortion by pressure groups. Science today has largely been bought and is working in service to a consumer culture that is itself run by corporations who sponsor the universities. This fails to advance any part of science that asks awkward questions. In the social sphere more and more pressure groups advance convincing arguments and present reams of data that show the complete opposite to what other science-based groups are also showing to be true. When empiricism fails like this the soul must either return to tribal truth, cleaving to one side in opposition to the other, or must come to centre, asking “how can truth be found” or “what is really true.” As the soul comes to centre a new perspective on truth emerges: The power of our centre to create the world we live in. While this is found in ancient doctrine it is the 20th century “New Thinking” movement best known in Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich or the film “The Secret” that has popularized it. The responsibility that this power to manifest the world infers on a person is less commonly discussed, than the potential of gaining through it. In Rudolf Steiner’s depiction of this level of truth, we see an emphasis on goodness. If the world you manifest is good, then your inner life is in harmony with cosmic truth. If you seek only to manifest short term, lower-self aims, chaos and unhappy side effects will appear. The ‘Natural Law’ or ‘Godly’ order of the universe feeds and clothes everything in the natural world. Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ also recommends that we cease to worry and strive but bring ourselves into harmony with the natural order. The best forms of manifestation follow this willingness to place oneself in harmony with goodness, rather than seeking short term goals. Many would argue that the true meaning of the section of John’s Gospel where Christ says “I Am the Way the Truth and the Life, none shall come to the Father except through me.” Lies in this power of coming to centre and manifesting truth, goodness and beauty in the world around you. Only by this act of resting at centre can we actually manifest a heavenly world. If we are drawn off by other people’s truth, as we are when we join a tribal truth, we cannot find the centre from which this creationary truth works. If we are drawn up into the intellect, as we are when we believe only in empiricism, we cannot even believe in the idea that our inner life affects the world we live in. If we are swept off by desires and short-term goals, we either lose our power to manifest, or the world we create contains as much suffering as it does satisfaction. This act, of bringing our inner life into harmony with Cosmic, or natural Law, also known as giving ourselves to Christ, or becoming one with the Buddha, etc, has the wonderful effect of showing that Truth, itself, is not a simple, exterior reality but an attitude, a relationship with the Cosmic Centre Itself. Coming to harmony with the Cosmic Centre is the same process as incarnating our own higher spirit more deeply into our own body.
It is perhaps the ultimate goal of the Earth Process.
Coming to Centre is a one-year course in awakening.