Will the Truth Set You Free?

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. 

With our thoughts, we make the world.” 

~ Buddha

How we perceive the world is one of those things I’m nearly obsessed with. I can get lost in thought about the simplest things in life, just pondering how I see something or why I see it a certain way. I think back to my college philosophy courses, sitting in the front row so eager to hear more of what naturally seemed to resonate with me. I loved questioning everything, and I had been doing it since I was a child. Questioning what is true. From world peace right down to a leaf on a tree, we all see things differently. We gather information, we interpret it, and we process it or we dump it. And somewhere within all that, we develop certain truths. 

For me, meaning my truth, there is only One truth, and everything else is an illusion. You see what you see and it is there before you, but what you see is only true to you. It is your truth. What you hear, what you think, what you feel, what you see, what you smell, is your truth, but for how long? Isn’t it only your truth for the time that you believe it is your truth? And doesn’t it often escape us that what we see, what we believe, what we feel, what we know as the truth, may not be seen or heard or felt or known to someone else as true? 

Let’s face it, we’ve all believed something to be true, but then we learned new information and changed our minds, and it was no longer the truth. Did you ever believe that it was true that someone didn’t like you, but then learned they were just shy and awkward around other people and that they thought you were great? 

Did you once believe without a shadow of a doubt that a fat man in a red suit squished down your chimney with a sack of toys? 

Did a bunch of people in your world support this truth, so therefore it must be true? 

Which leads me to another point. We more often than not trust those that we love. We often trust those in authority. We often trust those we respect. If someone you love and trust tells you something is true (Santa Claus), well, you believe them. If someone you love and respect is carrying around a belief about something and they pass it on to you, it becomes an inherited truth. 

Can you think of something that was true to a parent that was passed down to you? Is it still true to you? Can you think of something you passed on to your own child? What happens if it becomes an untruth to you or to your child?

With new information, new experiences, we change our perspective, and what we believe to be true changes, too. But isn’t it true that what you now know to no longer be true, could still be true to someone else? Do you know a child who knows that it is true that on December 24th a sleigh with reindeer is going to land on his roof? 

What you believe to be the truth is an untruth to someone else. Looking at what you perceive as truth is like looking at an optical illusion, like this one. Is it a rabbit? Is a duck? Is it both? How do you see what you see? How long do you give something enough thought and attention before deciding if it is true or untrue? 

Shouldn’t we be questioning what we believe to be true? Shouldn’t we be questioning our perception of every single situation, event, person, thought, understanding, etc. since what we see and know to be true is only true to the eyes of the beholder? 

Of course, there are shared truths, even Universal truths, but what is true by a shared group or society is a truth shaped by similar events, experiences, and influences. A common path. 

There are Christian societies and there are Muslim societies and there are Buddhist societies and the beliefs surrounding those societies are their truth. That truth cannot be denied by the man who does not hold the same truth. 

You say yellow and blue make green, but for the man who is color blind, is the gray he sees not there? Is it not his truth? Is it not real? For him, the color IS gray. But for another, the color is green, and what shade of green exactly? 

With this understanding, isn’t it possible that what we believe to be true about a situation, a person, ourselves, is only true to us because we say it is true, but that it absolutely can be untrue? 

Isn’t it fair to say that we give meaning to something based on what we think, what we see, what we feel, what we know? And if other people confirm this perception, this can often be enough evidence that solidifies this truth? Particularly if you love and trust them. But still, it may be an untruth. 

We must challenge ourselves to consider that truth is pliable, and sometimes convoluted. We must challenge ourselves to not attach ourselves to a truth like a cemented object, but rather hold it like sand, with the ability to allow it to run through our fingers. We must challenge that what we believe to be true about anything, is only true based on the evidence we’ve gathered within our own experience and our interpretation of that evidence. 

Consider a man who lived in a small village that he never left, and had only a few people within that village to interact with, versus the man who traveled the world, was a public speaker and interacted with thousands. Or the person that has been sick their entire lives with a disease or disability versus the person who ran marathons all their lives and barely had a cold. Consider the person who had a near drowning experience in the ocean as a child versus the olympic swimmer. Consider the person who was viciously attacked by a dog versus the person who volunteers at the Humane Society. 

What about television? Reality shows? The news. What is the motivation behind a truth?

What is true for all of these people? The experience shapes the perception, but it doesn’t make it true. It is a perceived truth and can only be shaped within the context of their experience and knowledge.  

So now I ask the question, how has your experience shaped your perception of the world, of people, of your life, of yourself, of what you think to be true, and might you consider another truth? How is the truth you are holding serving your highest good? How is it serving others? What might be another perspective? Can you look through the eyes of another? Is there something you believe to be true, that might be an untruth? 

Truth is a shapeshifter, it can be many things or it can be none of those things. Take time to consider how you might seek a different version of the truth in a matter where you’ve been steadfast in how you see it.

Consider a version of the truth that will serve your highest good and the good of others. Consider shattering some truth that has been cemented into your belief system into a fine sand and sifting it through your fingers.

It is said that the truth will set you free. I don’t know, will it?