Monday, April 16, 2012

What is The Truth? (Part 2)

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” – Proverbs 12:19

The truth doesn’t change over time. It is what it is regardless of what we perceive it to be.

There were five blind men who lived in a small, sleepy town.  One day a circus came and brought with it an elephant. When the five blind men heard about the elephant, they immediately went to the circus.  The first blind man touched the ears of the elephant and exclaimed, “The elephant is like a giant fan!” The second touched the trunk and shrieked, “Yikes! The elephant is like a big snake with two horns!” The third touched the leg of the elephant and shouted, “Aha! The elephant is like a coconut tree.” The fourth touched the side of the elephant and said, “Oh, the elephant is like a wall.”  Finally, the fifth blind man touched the tail of the elephant and said, “What the heck, I thought elephants are big, but it's like a whip.”

The elephant is the truth; the giant fan, the big snake, the tree trunk, the wall, and the whip are our perceptions of the truth. By perception you and I receive the truth, and our perception is very much dependent on our five senses – sight, smell, hearing, taste and feel.

When our senses perceive something our mind automatically creates an equivalent image. This is called representation.

Here is where the first problem lies. Our representation could easily be wrong because of unhealthy senses or unhealthy mind.

A colorblind person may see different colors from a normal person. A person with a hearing problem may hear the words differently from a normal person. A person with a cold cannot smell the aroma of a brewed coffee. A mad person…well he or she dwells in a different world. And so on and so forth.

But whatever we perceive the truth to be, it remains as it is. So our representation could be right or wrong.

Let me ask you these questions.

What do you feel when you see a black cat cross your way? What would you think when you meet a friend whom when you acknowledged just walk on by as if you didn’t exist? What would you think if your spouse wouldn’t say a word when you get home?

We humans don’t just stop at perceiving an object, phenomenon or event, we also give it meaning. This is called interpretation. The meaning we assign to it is very much dependent on our state (emotional, mental), existing beliefs, prejudices, and biases. 

Here is where the second problem lies. The meaning we give to an object, phenomenon or event could be wrong.

One day there was a brown out. So my wife and I lighted some candles. Unfortunately, our third daughter who was barely two years old at that time slipped away from her Ate unnoticed and went straight to one of the burning candles because she thought it was nice to touch.

The morale of the story – parents should put burning candles out of children's reach. Seriously, our baby daughter saw the bright candle and believed that it was something nice to touch. She quickly found out shortly thereafter that she was wrong.

Whatever we believe the truth to be, it remains as it is and our belief could be right or wrong.

Since we are getting deep into the nature of truth let me ask you a relevant question. What is reality?

Reality is simply what you (and I) think and feel is true. So this is largely dependent on our own perception, representation and interpretation of the truth.

If you believe that indulging in pornography is good for you then that is your reality. If you believe that divorce is good for you then that is your reality. If you believe that living a homosexual life with all the secular meanings attached to is good for you then that is your reality. If you believe that being addicted to illegal drugs is OK then that is your reality. If you believe that practicing premarital sex or even adultery won’t hurt you then that is your reality.

But the question is, is it truly good for you or for your love ones? Is it truly OK?

Our reality is relative, but the truth is not relative! The truth, its existence and the meaning it represents don’t depend on what you and I perceive it to be or the meaning we believe it represents. It doesn’t change based on our whims. Our reality maybe largely dependent on us, but the truth is not. Therefore, our reality could be right or wrong. Simple because it feels right to do it, doesn't necessarily mean that it's the right thing to do.

Some may argue that their reality is the truth. Well, they could be right or wrong. But this I am sure of. The truth stands the test of time. Eventually, the truth will break out from all the lies of this world.

So the final question we should all ponder is this, which side you and I want to be – the truth or your (my) reality – when the truth finally decides to correct the views of the world?

(Mind you. Being on the wrong side has nasty consequences: War; STD and AIDS, the breaking down of community because of the breaking down of the basic unit of community, the family (it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out); the killing of fetuses conveniently called abortion (I wonder what would happen if we aptly call this the murder of the helpless); and so many other ugliness in this world. But there is far worst consequence than all of these...)

No comments:

Post a Comment