It’s a mid-winter Saturday morning as I wait for the sun to rise and break the logjam of cloud cover that has been hanging in the sky like a spider hanging on for dear life, precariously at the end of its thread. I am reflecting on today’s morning meditation and the sunlit energy state that it created for my heart — a state that I hope to remember to carry with me through the rest of the day, and evoke when the cloud cover returns within or without.
The events of the week, particularly of Inauguration Day last Wednesday, have flung open the door to a state where speaking the truth is not the exception any more. The calls to ‘end the uncivil war’ and to ‘be brave enough to see the light’ are like balm to the wounds of millions of hearts who are looking for relief from the weight of pain, even grief, that they have been carrying like muse on an uphill mountain trail.
I have told the story before, and yet, in the context of truth and reconciliation bears repeating. It took me the better part of twenty years to tell my mother the truth of how much it hurt that I, the middle child, didn’t grow up with the rest of the family. It took a moment of inspired courage, standing on the balcony of a small apartment watching the sun set, holding our cups of tea, that I opened the door to speak my truth. And, to my pleasant surprise, she spoke hers. It I didn’t take me long to realize that her decision to ask her sister to raise me as a seven year old was the toughest thing she had done at her young age of twenty nine. The two of us speaking our truths to each other that evening, led to many more truthful conversations during the rest of her visit to the USA. By the time she left, I was well on the path to forgiveness and reconciliation.
That conversation was almost thirty years ago. It wasn’t that we didn’t have strong disagreements or great challenges in our relationship in the years since, but we never forgot that speaking and living our own truths, and walking in each other’s shoes with compassion, was our way back to respect, reconciliation and healing. By the time she suddenly passed away a few years back, she had become one of my best friends, confidants and advisors. Even though I continued to question some of her truths, and we had many long phone conversations about them, I never questioned her capacity to love.
What did I learn from my experience? I learnt that we are all capable of truth and reconciliation, and that our heart’s light stands ready to show us the way if we can muster enough courage to heal our wounds and let go of our pain. Is it ever too late to discard shame and blame in favor of civility, candid conversation and co-creation?
The spider doesn’t need to hang by its thread any more. The clouds have parted, the sun has risen, and it’s time to resume weaving the web of love with threads of truth, reconciliation and healing.
Bring your light. We need your courage to heal.
P.S. Join us for our weekly conversation, Sunday Jan 24 at 9amET / 730pm India as we discuss some truths. The sun will be rising, I will be pouring tea, and we will walk the light. Namaste – @AjmaniK
I did not exactly plan it this way. Three weeks ago, when I collaborated with my good friend Jon Mertz on the topic of “betterment”, I hadn’t looked this far ahead. Two weeks ago, we talked about “common ground”, and how it would be vital for us to find some, despite all our differences, in order to have a thriving and sustainable future. A week ago, with the goal of betterment in mind, we discussed the idea of sowing “seeds of kindness” on “common ground”.
Assuming that at least some of us have planted some seeds of kindness, or are at least planning to plant some, we now need some nourishment for those seeds to successfully germinate. Nourishment comes from the nutrients in the soil, the water, and from sunlight. Yes, seeds are typically sown beneath the surface, but some light does reach them even below ground. Sunlight is in fact essential for the process of photosynthesis – the process by which light is synthesized into sustainable life. In essence, light plays the same role to grow seeds, as truth does to grow love in our lives.
How long would we be able to live a holistic, sustainable, growth-oriented, thriving life of joy without a constant stream of truth flowing into our heart-mind? I surmise that light and truth are interchangeable in our lives. Where there is light, there is truth. Where there is truth, there is light. When truth is felt by our heart, we feel lightness. When untruth is felt by our mind, we experience darkness. The victory which we often talk about, and even celebrate – that of goodness over evil, kindness over prejudice, love over bigotry – is in some ways encapsulated by the light of truth dispelling darkness.
When a seed is able to encapsulate light, its darkness begins to disappear. With light, the seed’s ‘mind’ realizes that its purpose isn’t to remain buried beneath the surface. With light, the seed’s ‘heart’ begins to manifest its truth, which is to become a giant oak tree. With light, the seed starts growing root of truth below the surface and shoots of awareness above the surface. In some ways, seeds and trees are perfect examples of the circle of light, life and truth.
Out of what has the tree been produced? Out of the seed; the whole of the tree was there in the seed. It comes out and becomes manifest. So, the whole of this universe has been created out of this very universe existing in a minute form….….every evolution is preceded by an involution. The seed is the father of the tree, but another tree was itself the father of the seed.
Some of you who have read this far are probably wondering – what does all of this have to do with spirituality and spiritual practice? Remember the story of the “bowl of lentils” from last week’s post on sowing kindness? What if every single one of us was to choose to only see the light of truth that shines within us? If we were to practice that, will we not see our own truth, and start germinating rapidly to our manifest destiny of enlightenment? If we were to be in the process of rapid growth, what would we see in the world around us?
Immersed in the light of truth, would we not tend to see more of goodness, joy, kindness, faith, gratitude, honesty, integrity, acceptance and justice? Would we not perform more of the actions that produce light instead of darkness? Light begets light. Truth begets truth. The light of truth begets truth and light, just like the tree begets the seed and the seed begets the tree. “Every evolution is preceded by an involution”. So, where do we begin our new practice of germination?
Any time that we feel ‘darkness’, let us choose to immediately light a new lamp or candle. A newly lit lamp can serve as a reminder that we can evoke the source of light that we carry within us, at any given moment. When we evoke the source, the tree, we, the seed, also evoke its qualities of omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, self-luminousness, joyfulness, awareness and truthfulness.
Is there a better way to celebrate the light of truth?
P.S. Join us for our weekly community gathering on twitter, Sunday, November 15 at 9amET / 730pm India. We will celebrate kindness, truth and light, and perhaps even make a commitment to goodness. I hope you can join me and indulge some of my questions as we gather on common ground. Namaste – @AjmaniK
A reflection – on the source of the light of truth within us…
A beautiful cool breeze is flowing this morning before the heat rises. The blackbirds are practicing their landings on the fence — the young ones are learning how to land on top of cattails. I notice at least four or five new bushes lining the forest side with their white flowers now blooming.
The sun crests the roof from behind me and starts to warm the left side of my head behind the ear. Flap, flap, flap goes the edge of my sleep shorts as I sit cross legged clutching my cup of tea, The back of my right knee is cradled on top of the left, both of them supported by the toes of my left foot, heel suspended in mid air, lifted by the wooden rail of the deck running crossways. The bullfrog announces his presence by blaring out a morning song. As if in cue, a skirmish breaks out among some blackbirds — perhaps a heated conversation about ownership of a particularly fruited bush.
My thoughts shift. The world has destroyed itself and reconstructed itself, over and over again, for centuries. My hometown of the city of Delhi, the center of many an Indian empire, is said to have been razed to the ground seven times by invaders, and been built again. So, I sit here watching the birds go about their morning routine, which is rarely if ever interrupted unless there happens to be a roaring thunderstorm that forces them to take shelter in their nests and ride it out. Unlike humans, they don’t construct permanent walls or roofs or tenements or try to brave the storm by driving through standing waters.
Yes, the younger, more impetuous ones do fly a bit faster than their parents, and seemingly a bit more recklessly in between the bushes and trees, and occasionally miss their landings atop the cattails to end up closer to the water than their mothers would like to see. But what would you do if you woke up one fine morning of your young life and realized that you had been given wings, and one of your parents, knowing that you were ready, brought you to the edge and gave your quivering young body — that is shaking with fear at the prospect of falling to your death to the earth below — a final push with a prayer beneath her breath and said, fly!
She knows that if she has misjudged the strength of your wings, you may end up on the storm soaked ground below and the earth will either gently catch you so that you may try again, or embrace you forever, orange and yellow flecked wings and all — such is the nature of life, of discernment. We try, we fail, we learn, we adjust, and we try again. No progress, at any level, from the march of an ant to the launching of a new rocket to carry humans into space, has ever been made possible by simply sitting in our nests with the fear of flying or learning to fly.
When compared to birds and bullfrogs and geese and spiders and ants and willows and roses and pine trees and even rocks, we humans are mere fledgelings in the lifespan of the earth, let alone the universe. So, the creator has endowed us with Nature as a playground and observation space where we can learn some valuable lessons that can help humanity either rise and soar, or plummet and destroy itself. The laws of time, space and causation cannot be circumvented without first understanding the basics of cause and effect. Natural laws always takes precedence over human laws, for the wisdom of the One who created the former far exceeds the ones who created the latter.
However, we humans have been given one extraordinary faculty that distinguishes us from the rest of Nature.
And that is the faculty called ‘free will’ by some and ‘discernment’ or ‘viveka’ by others. As I arrive at writing this section, the wind has shifted. A cloud has temporarily come over the Sun behind me. The blackbirds are starting to retreat and the geese have left the pond momentarily to take shelter on land. Discernment on display, and yet it is a cause and effect response to nature’s stimulus. A bit like a child touching a hot stove and learning, forming a memory that it isn’t a good idea to challenge the laws of fire and heat.
So, yes, ‘viveka’ is a faculty and a facility granted to us to convert our learning into experience and then into wisdom. When Arjuna, the aggrieved Prince of the Bhagavad Gita, refused to fight to restore the justice due to him because he did not want to kill his own half-brothers who had connived to cheat him of his rightful inheritance to the kingdom of Indraprastha — the city razed and built seven times — his teacher Krishna said to him: you have been given the duty of a warrior, so you are bound by the laws of Dharma (natural justice and truthful living) to act in the cause of its restoration; rise up and discard this despondency; stand up and fight or else an entire race of good people shall be decimated at the hands of the promulgators of evil or adharma; do not let emotion cloud your discernment, for ‘viveka’ is your greatest faculty — the ability and courage to do what is right for the greatest good; action with love produces detachment to the outcome, and yet detachment does not mean that you be attached to inaction.
It is the restoration of the good, of goodness through the use of discernment that elevates us within.
Back to my morning by the lake. When the mighty hawks stray and soar too close to the blackbirds and their young, the much smaller but deft in flight blackbirds do not hesitate to guide them back to their nests. Order is swiftly restored. The blackbirds’ size isn’t a disadvantage – they are much more flexible in changing speed and direction as compared to the hawks, because of their size. Each of us, as individuals, may be smaller than the big machinery that wants to endanger our young, and yet, with the exercise of ‘viveka’, with consistent action that works towards the restoration of ‘dharma’, we can engage in reconstruction of truth, kindness, empathy, friendship, and bliss.
Our greatest faculty and facility is the divine’s love that we carry in our heart. Let us wield that love with courage in all that we do, even if it means that we run the risk of being thought of as weak and ignorant. The evil and unjust are the ones who are weak, lacking in ‘viveka’ —and it is their hubris and heart calcification that will be their destruction. We, the wielders of love, will be the agents, the dispensers of that justice.
Natural justice is dispensed by the natural laws of time, space and causation. It is the law of karma charioted by the holders of ‘viveka’, that has for eons and civilizations, ensured victory for those committed to action for the restoration of Dharma — truth and justice.
For when the storm of natural justice arrives, it restores equality among all, regardless of size, strength, power, status or color — the hawk, the blackbird, the finch, all respond to the storm by taking refuge in their nests. Their use of discernment is in full display. Maybe we humans can observe, learn and use natural wisdom to restore ‘viveka’ in our lives too. I believe we can. How about you?
Epilogue: Written mid-week during my week-long ‘virtual retreat’ to effect some inner restoration. A lot of wandering threads here, so feel free to take what appeals or relates to you. Namaste.
P.S. Join our weekly twitter #spiritchat on twitter – Sunday, June 7 at 9amET / 1pm GMT / 630pm India. We will talk about restoration, dharma, karma and more over tea, fruit and maybe even some cookies. Bring a story to share. Namaste – @AjmaniK
There was a heavy frost on the car because I had forgotten to park it in the garage on the cold but clear night. As we made our short drive to school, I thought I would quiz her about the science of why the car frosts over on clear nights but not the cloudy ones. So, I asked her – do you know what caused the car windows and the grass to frost over last night? Through her half sleepy state, totally not in the mood for science, she said
Dad. Don’t you know that frost is created to cover the soft plants at night – it is their warm blanket to protect them from heavy snows?
My first reaction was one of total surprise, and I asked – where did you get That? Without batting an eyelid (or was it a silvery wing?) she replied – “Dad. I got that from Tinker Bell. Did you forget about her?” In that instant, I was even more flummoxed. So, I mumbled something about dew point, condensation, water vapor in the air and how water droplets form on the outside of a cold glass of water. So much for science!
Yes. I had the scientific answer, and I was trying to use a real-world observation to teach her about the value of arriving at the truth through science. And yet, her answer, inspired by art and imagination, was equally, if not more beautiful. Don’t you think? The search for truth and understanding has inspired scientists, their experiments, and a lot of scientific research over the past few centuries since the renaissance. Science has even made inroads into how humans perceive the truth.
How do we define truth, how do our brains process it and why do we fight over it? What does it look like in our brains when we process the truth?
Our brain is the processing centers for our senses. The inputs and sensations that our senses receive, are converted into perceptions by the brain. Over time, our sensations and perceptions form memories related to the events that we have experienced. For example, the first time I walk a new trail in the forest, I am creating a new memory. My mind learns some new truths about where the trail narrows or widens, where the river forms a sweeping arc, where the horses cross from one bank to another, and more.
The next time I walk the same trail, the truths about the path get verified through the repetition of sensation and perception in the mind. Verification means that I begin to trust the path and my walk. When I learn to trust myself, I open my heart and mind to form a new pathway for truth. Science has shown that when we learn new things by walking new paths, new grooves are literally being cut into our brain. Our new learnings increase our willingness to trust others who have walked their own paths and discovered new scientific truths.
And yet, science and scientists are often not enough by themselves to convey the truth. Science often needs the support of art and artists to infuse truths into the depths of our lives. We may read about the science behind making the perfect cup of tea – the exact amount of tea to use per cup, the ideal temperature of water to use, and so on. Beyond the science, it is the art of sensing and perceiving the tea experience that creates new truths for us. The warmth of the cup against our palms, the steam that rises as it floods fragrance into our nostrils, the first sip that awakens us and the senses of those that we sit around the table with.
Yes. Sometimes, new truths can travel on iridescent, translucent wings flecked with a light frost of imagination. Who knew!
P.S. Join us Sunday March 8 2020 at 9am ET / 630pm India as we gather in #SpiritChat on twitter to talk about the Art and Science of Truth. Bring your wings, and your imagination, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, and discover some new truths. Namaste – @AjmaniK
She was sitting on the bathroom floor in the basement, cleaning the concrete in preparation to replace the flooring which had been damaged by a water leak. As is often the case, she is really good at “walking and chewing gum”, and so she was listening to an NPR podcast on her phone. “This is a really good one”, she said as I came downstairs to check on her progress. “They are having a really good conversation about truth”, she added in a matter-of-fact way. I wanted to listen, but her “guard dog” knew that Dad was home from work, which meant it was time to be walked.
I picked up a broom to help out a bit by sweeping the work area and to delay the walk, so that I could listen to a bit of the stream. I heard them talking about the history of truth, how it used to be communicated in the past (hint: poetry!), and the attempts of truth seekers and truth tellers in answering the seminal question – what IS truth? I only swept the floor for a few minutes before the puppy sensed my delay tactics and rushed me upstairs and straight to the front door.
It was only Tuesday, and yet, the seed for Sunday’s conversation had been planted. As most weeks go, this was a welcome early start for me, because I usually don’t figure out the week’s #SpiritChat topic until Friday or Saturday. Over the next few days, I mulled upon the topic of “truth” and the role that it plays in our lives. It wasn’t until Friday night that I had a chance to search for the complete podcast, and to my delight, I found that NPR’s ‘On Point’ has recorded a four-part series on truth (starting Feb 24) – I even found the ‘study notes’ for their first conversation.
History has a way of returning us to the beginning. If we choose to learn from history, we have an opportunity to not repeat it. History can inform individuals, communities and nations about the pathways that can move them to a higher level of awareness about the truth. History has some definitions of truth for us…
Truth is evidence-based knowledge
Knowledge can come to us through various sources, our senses being one of them. And yet, our senses can often lead us us astray, can they not? Senses can misinform us when only one of the many are engaged in information gathering and processing. Sensory information and facts need to be able to be independently validated and verified, so that they can lead us to the truth. Revelation and reason, just like spirituality and science, both have great value in defining the truth for us – what do your heart-mind think about that? How can we engage multiple senses at the same time, through multiple sources, to arrive at evidence-based knowledge?
Truth is often based on our narrative – we ignore that which does not fit our narrative because our brains understand causality (cause and effect)…
There is ring of truth to that, isn’t there? In our often busy lives, amid a pandemic of mis-trust, it is so much easier for our heart-mind complex to stay engaged with the sources that feed our current narrative. We dig deeper and deeper trenches with our rhetoric as we cherry-pick from among the truth-based facts, to stay safe within our stories. How do we get back to reason and create a new narrative based on some eternal truths?
One way to return to some eternal (truths) is to ask questions of our biased narratives. How can we engage in dialogue with those who have a diagonally opposite narrative from our our own? Further yet, how can be bring together people with diverse heart-views and mind-sets to have a fair and balanced conversation about the facts to arrive at some common truths? Maybe it is too much to ask. Maybe not. And yet, let us not stop from engaging in dialogue, regardless of what we believe in.
We can ask — what is the permanence that we we truly believe in? The answer to that question can inform our heart’s truth, guide us to the heart of truth, inspire us in our personal practice. It is in the heart’s search for permanence that the truth is often brought to light — and, like the sun, That is a light which we can freely share — even with the ones who choose to walk a different path than ours.
P.S. The basement project is currently on hold, as we try to decide on the type of flooring amid our celebrations. Meanwhile, our search for the heart of truth continues, individually and as a family. Join us on Sunday, March 1st 2020, as we celebrate some of each others’ truths in our weekly twitter chat at 9am ET / 7:30pm India. We will multilogue in #SpiritChat over tea and cookies, and maybe even some cake! Namaste – @AjmaniK
Every time I walk the path, sit on this bench, I see, hear, smell, feel, sometimes even taste something different – I view it as gathering new evidence of the truth… or is it?
Many a great structure can be built upon, if it has been built upon a strong foundation. Conversely, if the foundation is weak, many a great-looking structure can easily crumble when subject to even a small tremor. One may posit that the long-term health and viability of families, friendships, communities, societies, countries and planets depends on the quality of their foundations.
From a spiritual perspective, the strength of our foundation can be equated to the sum (or product?) of our values, beliefs and practices.
Our foundational values are often formed by those actions which have ‘risen to the top’ of our attention pyramid over time. These are the actions that attract the best investments of our time and energy. We often look forward to opportunities to sharing time and space with those who strengthen our core values. Conversely, we may find ourselves walking or drifting away from those who negatively affect the health of our foundation. This concept forms the foundation of the idea of sangha or togetherness. Commonality of values infuses joy in our walk together. We learn to find joy in their joy, and they in ours.
The second basis of a strong foundation is an awareness of truth. Where does this awareness come from? It comes from (spiritual) practice. If I regularly walk a particular path in the forest and I see the same white flowers bloom in the same culvert at the same time every year, my direct experience would plant a seed of truth in me. My practice will have thus informed my awareness, which would in turn have established a foundational truth for me.
The beauty of the blooming flower of awareness is that it need not be unique to me. When someone else has the same direct experience of the flower blooming in the forest, it plants a seed of truth in them too. When their seed of truth grows, it attracts my truth, it becomes stronger, and begins to matter. When two people share an awareness that the truth matters, it becomes the foundation for friendship.
Our shared values, beliefs and practices can thus create a basis for joy (ananda), and a shared awareness (chitta) of truth (satya). When we walk in truth, awareness and joy, we can have direct experience of the Oneness that is the foundation of the Universe.
P.S. Join us for our weekly gathering, Sunday January 26th at 9amET / 730pm India. We will share on foundations, friendships and the truths discovered on our walks. Namaste – @AjmaniK
An often (mis)quoted colloquium in the context of truth is – “the truth shall set you free”. So, it would seem that truth has some connection to freedom. If we dig a bit deeper, the quote says – “you shall _know_ the truth and it shall set you free”. So, there is a _knowing_ of truth, before freedom may be realized. What may this knowing consist of? Is it a mental, intellectual kind of knowing which inspires us to be knowledge-seekers? Or is it a deep-seated-in-the-heart, set-your-soul-alight kind of knowing?
The Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, said, “A truth can never be repeated”. If this statement has any truth to it, then it seems to be at great odds with the notion that Truth is often incontrovertible. Or is it that we all have our own unique version, our own interpretation of truth, which is subject to change based on space, time and our perception?
One approach that may help us resolve the truth about the matter is to acknowledge that there are various _kinds_ of truths – the incontrovertible ones that are the foundations of our spiritual existence, the truths based on natural, physical and chemical laws, and the ones that are currently deemed as truth unless and until proven otherwise.
Another way of looking at the breadth and depth of truth is the influence that it has on our daily living and actions. When operating with adherence to (our) truth, we operate in good faith. Clarity in truth leads to purity of intention in our actions, which leads to purity of mind, heart and purpose.
Truth is also connected to simplicity and ease of effort. It is often said that “if we always speak truth, we need not remember what we said”. When speaking and operating in even a small, seemingly insignificant untruth gives us great pain and complicates our life, we realize the significance of truth. From a practical viewpoint, it isn’t the Truth that we shall discover at the top of the mountain that shall set us free.
It is the small, simple truths That we shall choose to speak, to rejoice in, to create with, that shall set us free.
That is my perception of The truth. What is yours?
P.S. Join us in our weekly chat on twitter, Sunday Oct 21st at 9amET / 630pm India as we celebrate Truth and Perception. Namaste – Kumud.
Photography – often delineates and reframes the “truth” 🙂
The act of dreaming has the ability to quickly put us in a state of lightness of being.
As we allow ourselves to roam the blue skies of possibility – like the blue-winged young swallows practicing their flying manouevers on the field of lotus leaves ready to spring forth their yellow blossoms – the act of dreaming transports us to the fields of the infinite.
There are the acts of dreaming while being awake, and dreaming while in deep sleep. There are the acts of dreaming in the intervals between being awake and falling asleep, and dreaming in the spaces between awakening from sleep and being fully awake. There are the dreams dreamt at dawn, the mid-morning dreams, the mid-afternoon dreams, the “let me take a short nap before dinner” dreams and the “I ate so much that I feel asleep on the couch” dreams.
Some dreams are dreamt by parents for their young children, by teachers for their students, by mentors for their mentees, by leaders for their followers. In every deep and meaningful relationship, there is an entanglement of the dreams of one or more souls. The dreaming may be done in time and space congruence, or it may be done separately by the individuals on the relationship. But how often is it that the dreaming and the dreams of the individual are squelched for the sake of the “group” or the “society”?
Some dreams are written in exquisite detail in private journals, while others are shared publicly in prose and poetry. Others are hidden away among hurriedly scribbled notes in secret compartments of jewelry boxes – only to be accidentally discovered by their descendants after the scribbler has long or recently passed away. No matter the medium of their writing or speaking or even remanining permanently embedded in the dreamer’s heart and soul, the reality remains – the act of dreaming connects us to the possibility of freedom.
Ah. There she is. Reality. She snuck in among the dreams. Let us visit with him for a bit. We find ourselves at a loss, when we are told at a young age, to “stop dreaming” and “get real”. R.E.A.L. Those four letters seem to clip our winged dreams to size and splash us into the lake of reality – like the “learning to fly” too-young swallow who miscalculates his steep dive and ends up with an unintended cold bath!
But wait. Reality does not have to be the enemy of dreams or spell an end to the act of dreaming.
Reality and dreaming are far from the opposites that they are often thought of being. While reality may often be accused of contracting the truths that dreaming takes the liberties to expand, they both operate in the realm of Truth. At the spiritual level, the truth is that the act of dreaming is the doorway to the state of dreamless sleep in which we can connect with our true divinity. Have you ever woken up from a dreamless sleep and you cannot remember how long you were actually asleep?
In that dreamless sleep, we are disconnected from time and space – merged with our true nature, which is infinity. We are then in a state of consciousness where we are one with the One, where we experience the harmony of unity.
Does all of this perhaps suggest that what we consider as real – our every day life full of ups and downs, dreams and distractions, wins and losses – is indeed all a dream?
Does it suggest that the true reality, the dream worth dreaming, is the one which connects us to Joy?
Does it mean that the only dream with levity, is that which brings us face to face with Truth?
Am I suggesting that all the messages we receive so often – ‘dream big dreams’, ‘reach for the stars’, ‘set high goals’, ‘operate in reality’ – need to be revisited, and maybe even revised?
I want to hear your take on dreaming and reality. I want to encourage you to reevaluate your dreams from the past, of the present, and for the future. Or have you stopped dreaming altogether? What kind of reality does that present for you? Is that a reality that is full of light and levity?
I invite you to share with us, here in the comments, and in the weekly #SpiritChat conversation on twitter – Sunday, May 22nd 2016 at 9amET(USA)/1pmUTC. We continue in the vein of “Lightness and Levity” for the month of May, with Dreaming and Reality. Join us!
On Truth and Balance, by Dr Greg Marcus (@GregMarcus2 on twitter)
We continue our weekly Sunday morning #SpiritChat conversations on Sunday, September 20th 2015 at 9amET/1pmUTC with our special guest, Dr Greg Marcus. Greg will share with us as co-host, and I am excited to be hosting him in our live weekly hour on twitter.. Greg will discuss the subject of “Truth and Balance” with all of us, bringing his unique perspective from his cultural heritage. Please join in for what will be a unique discussion in #SpiritChat. Do read and enjoy Greg’s post below, and welcome him in the comments with a brief note. Thank You! – Kumud
This week’s Spiritchat is inspired by the Jewish Spiritual Practice of Mussar. Mussar teaches how to balance various Soul Traits in order to live a more meaningful and values driven life. Soul Traits are things like Humility, Patience, and the subject of todays discussion, Truth. Having too much of a Soul Trait is as bad as having not enough. For example, too little Patience and you are a jerk; too much Patience and you are prone to staying in bad relationships or negative work environments.
Mussar is a practice, meaning that we act and not just think. We practice a particular Soul Trait for two weeks, and then move on to another one. The day begins with a mantra, to frame our day. For Truth, the mantra is “Distance yourself from falsehood.” As we go through the day, we observe how Truth is impacting our decisions. And, we pick one small change to bring ourselves towards balance. For example, if we are prone towards exaggeration, we focus on not exaggerating, even trivial things. Finally, at night we journal about our experiences over the course of the day.
Mussar draws on thousands of years of Jewish teachings in writings. For example, there is a famous argument between two Rabbis about whether one is required to tell a bride that she is beautiful on her wedding day. Rabbi Shamai argued that if the bride is unattractive, it would be inappropriate to be untruthful. Rabbi Hillel, on the other hand, argued that a bride is always beautiful for two reasons: The bride’s husband presumably finds her attractive, and that it would be unkind to hurt someone’s feelings on her wedding day.
In addition, Mussar teaches that we all have our unique “spiritual curriculum,” meaning that we all have our issues, and unique challenges to overcome in order to achieve balance. Thus, balance is personal. We all have our own vision of what balance feels like, and stress arises when we discern that we are ‘out of balance’ in our lives. Mussar teaches that external imbalance arises from a spiritual imbalance, because we make choices based on the state of our soul. Mussar offers a framework to build a balanced and loving internal world.
Truth is also very personal. One person’s truth can be another person’s untruth or unbelief. When we try and share ‘our’ truth with others, we can create an imbalance in their lives if they are not ready to receive or accept what we envision as the truth. Or, we may be perpetuating an imbalance in ourselves if we are pushing a versionof the Truth that does not take into account another’s point of view.
Dr. Greg Marcus teaches both secular and spiritual balance through a thousand-year-old Jewish practice called Mussar. He is the author of Busting Your Corporate Idol: Self Help for the Chronically Overworked available on Amazon.com. His next book on Mussar is due out in the fall of 2016. To learn more about his forthcoming website Americanmussar.com, or the American Mussar App, please visit http://idolbuster.com/americanmussar
Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. – Wikipedia
The above definition seems to imply that ‘truth’ is subject to change, depending on what we consider as ‘fact or reality’. One example of a ‘truth’ that became subject to change relates to the discoveries of Galileo. His refutation of the ‘fact’ that the Sun revolves around the earth led to a great upheavel of what was considered to be ‘truth’ at that time. Over the centuries, science has often debunked many so-called ‘facts’ that were foundations of truths for many societies. As scientific ‘progress’ reveals more of the ‘mysteries’ of the world around us, we can be assured that a lot of what is currently considered as ‘fact’ will not stand – and that new ‘truths’ will come into play.
The second part of the definition of truth talks about ‘fidelity to a standard or ideal’. The notion of fidelity or loyalty to a standard seems to invoke the idea of “belief”. Our ‘standards’ or ‘ideals’ often come to us by way of our upbringing and the environment at home, school, and in many cases, from our religious ‘truths’. As we graduate from some of these institutions, say, move away from home or change schools or our place of work, we may find that some of these standards and ideals can change. Some of you may have even changed religions, or become ‘less religious’ over time, in which case, your ideals and standards may have shifted considerably. As we progress through life, fidelity to standards and ideals may change, because our path of self-discovery gives us courage to examine our truths more closely than we may have ever examined them before.
So, let me ask again. What is Truth? How can we understand it? Why is Truth important in our lives? How do we know that we are not operating in Truth?
From a spiritual perspective, the idea of Truth is often promulgated as a means to bring us face to face with “Reality”. The Truth that we believe in can become the instrument which elevates us, inspires us, encourages us “to stay the course” when we are faced with challenges. Some even equate the Truth with Faith – when we perform actions in the domain of Truth, we demonstrate our Faith. One manifestation of Truth is the knowing that we are filaments in the light bulb of the universe, and when electricity flows through us, we light up to share our illumination – but, we are not the electricity itself. Another manifestation of Truth can be that we are more than our “sticky” ego – the one to which all our goals, dreams, praises, hurts, memories and more seem to get stuck. Can you think of any distinct manifestations of your Truth(s) that serve to empower you?
Beyond the idea of personal Truth(s), you may have heard of the term, ‘universal truth(s)’. These universal truth(s) are more like ‘laws of nature’ or ‘laws of the universe’ that have evolved over time and are considered sacrosanct by many. Some examples are ~ ‘as you shall sow, so you shall reap’, ‘as sure as day follows night, night follows day’, ‘water finds its way to the lowest ground’ and so on. The ‘Tao Te Ching’ and ‘I Ching’ have many more wonderful examples of some of these universal truths. These universal truths are perhaps easier for most of us to assimilate and accept in our lives, because they are easily verifiable by us.
I often ask the ‘is it true’ question when I read, hear or see something that I haven’t been exposed to before. I watch my mind, my ego, my intellect for the answers that are returned. Sometimes, the answer are immediate, but often, the answer is deferred, for lack of better information. In these times, the powers of discernment and patience become my ‘close friends’ and the determination of ‘truth has to wait’. Do you experience the same?
As you reflect on the nature of Truth and Understanding and walk your Path, I invite you to consider the following:
Truth is more in the process than in the result. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
P.S. We will discuss “Truth and Understanding” in #SpiritChat on Sunday, May 31st at 9amET in our weekly chat on twitter. I hope you will join us.