Let’s start off with another one my favourite stories about the topic of “truth”:
The devil went on a walk with a friend. In front of them – at a distance – walked a man, whom they could only see from the backside. Suddenly, he bent down, picked something up and continued his walk. Obviously, he was very happy about what he had found because his walk was more erect and with more of a strive.
Seeing this, the friend of the devil said: „I would really like to know what he has found.” The devil answered: „I can tell you. He found a piece of the truth.“ The friend commented: „Oh, that must be bad for you.“ „On the contrary, my friend, on the contrary,“ smiled the devil. „later, I will walk up to him and suggest that he should create a religion out of it.“
As far as I know, the story is originally from Jiddu Krishnamurti. I am not telling it because I am against religion per se. No, not at all. For me, the belief in something beyond ourselves, greater than ourselves, is very important. It can make our life easier and give it meaning.
The discovery of truth should make humble, not superior
What I have problems with is when a group of people feels superior to other people because they believe to possess „the absolute truth“ and therefore to have the right to exercise power over people who do not share their belief system. This has resulted in crusades, pogroms, genocide und many more atrocities, on a large scale and on an individual level. A lot of suffering has been created this way and continues to be created even today. This is not restricted to religion, also ideologies can result in this. The belief system of the Nazis is a terrible example of this.
The story is in tune with the „I know that I know nothing.“ from Socrates – it is just positioned at the other end of the spectrum.
So what is this blog about today? I find that each and every one of us has the right to look for the individual inner truth, and to find it. This can happen as part of a community or on one’s own individual path.
The search for truth is a personal quest
The man who told the above story, Jiddu Krishnamurti, is an example for someone who looked for his own path as an individual – and who encouraged others to do the same. As a young man, he had been prepared by leading members of the Theosophical Society for a special task: as a “reborn teacher of the world “, as a messiah in the succession of Jesus he should bring liberation to the members of the „Order of the Star of the East“, an order that was founded just for this purpose.
At the general meeting of the order where he was to be inaugurated as the spiritual head, he instead declared the order to be dissolved. The reason for this was his conviction that it is impossible for a human being to lead other human beings to the light. He explained to the totally shocked assembly that each and every one of them would have to find their own path – a clear rejection of exaggerated guru worship and the dogma of religions or sects. He encouraged individual freedom, vitality and mindfulness instead.
Truth, compassion and tolerance
It is my sincere wish that all people find happiness on their path, searching for their inner truth in their personal way. At the same time I wish that they are tolerant towards other people and groups who are looking for a different approach or have found theirs already.
The subject of „abuse of power“ and the belief to be in the possession of the absolute truth is not only a problem with some religious leaders, gurus or populistic politicians. The risk is ever present when relationships between people do not happen on an equal footing. The problem is not per se that the footing is unequal. At school, in a therapeutic or medical setting, in coaching and so on, it is quite normal that certain aspects of the relationship are asymmetrical: one person is (hopefully) an expert, and the other person would like to learn from that person or requires support.
Nevertheless in such cases, where someone has a certain expertise (or claims to have it), there is always the risk of dogmatism and dependency. This might arise from the „expert“ or it may result from projections by the people who are interested in the “expert’s” offering.
Always check, whether it is helpful for yourself
When the relationship is between adults, whatever is offered to you, whatever is said to you, test it, think about it. It is just an offer. It is not „the truth“, at best, it is part of the truth. It is far from being „absolute“. Find out, whether it is fitting for you, what part is fitting for you. And use this on your journey, as long as it is helpful for you.
To finish the blog off with another quote from Krishnamurti: