what-ifs and truths.

“I felt kind of…convicted when you said that.”

I remember that conversation in January…part of a valley surrounded by peaks that had been defining the coexistence between me and another person.  I remember the conversation for its weight but also for that expression.  With all of the books I read, can you believe I’d never known how to used “convicted” like that before?  And yet I keep reading blog entries of others saying how “convicted” they felt at revealing something of themselves.  Hmm.

Well, then it happened: I felt convicted.

Lately I’ve been beating myself up to seek out the perfect truth to everything.  I’ve been driven by this concept that there’s a perfect way to live, to think, to be and that I must tear down every wall to find it.  I must clean every slate and read anything I can get my hands on and try to see the world completely open-mindedly.  Because I wanted to find the  truth.

Then I somehow stumbled upon The Order of the Star…and its dissolution.  I was confounded by the words “Truth is a pathless land” until I read this article.  And I thought wow have I been confused.  And it made sense.

You see, the more and more I’ve been trying to find the “truth” about anything and everything, the more muddled and confused I’ve been feeling.  I’m suddenly finding myself checking off lists in my head to see if my logic is precise or my methods of evaluating a situation are according to my standards of open-mindedness.  I’ve been picking apart everything I observe based on two streams of thought: humans as survivalists and humans as spiritualists.  But for what?  It has only made me more confused and surely appear more callous and dull to my friends.

Yet, “Truth is a pathless land”.  There is no truth.  Truth is just an idea that grows into a restriction, into a box out of which to live.  Truth becomes a religious doctrine.  Truth is a lie that sits idol and constricts.  Truth is the reason why the Order dissolved, because truth becomes religion and religion becomes convicting regardless of circumstance.  And I can say that safely after having read several church sermons (okay, mostly UU) which tell this story:

The devil and his friend were walking down the road.  A man in front of them picked something off the ground and put it in his pocket.  “I wonder what he found?” asked the friend.  “A piece of truth,” said the devil.  “Oh, well that’s bad news for you,” said the friend.  “No,” said the devil.  “I’ll let him make a religious following out of it.”

So, in other words, living with absolutes restricts growth.  Seeking that black-and-white answer to become better can actually make us worse.  I know many will disagree, that there is a set list of principles to follow, etc., but I always come back down to intention.  You can follow whatever practices you want, but if you go through the motions then you’re not really practicing anything.  When you pour everything into something, that gives it meaning.  Even when you slip up, it’s the distance you’ve come and the intent in your heart that matters way more than saying you belong to a particular group.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an individual, group-less good person.  One who finds his own “truths” which he does not raise up or of which he does not hold others accountable.

And now that I’ve eliminated truth, it’s hard to explain my feelings of what-if.  As an engineer/scientist, I want to say FACT, FACT, FACT – yet I believe religion and science are exactly the same thing: they are explanations for the same phenomena and all consist of THEORY.

Examples of accepted facts (which does NOT equate to “truths”):
-gravity is 9.81 m/s2
-the earth is round(ish)
-I must eat to stay alive
-water boils at 100C
-humans don’t have wings

These accepted facts are, well, accepted based on how we define our words and the things we have managed to observe.  But they canNOT be absolute.  Especially when you can only prove something is true by, well,…The truth is, you can only prove something to be wrong, can’t you?

And what about the what-ifs in my life?
what if i hadn’t said that just that one time
what if i had tried harder
what if i hadn’t been late
what if i had made another choice
what if i had been a different person

Well… I can never know what is true from this list since truth doesn’t exist.  But I’m thinking we’re all better off that way.  As my friend said, “The hard times make the good times better.”  And if we had all of the answers and if truth were real, we wouldn’t have any of those unpleasant or pleasant surprises to be thrown at us!