Truth is an Affirmation about Ourselves1 Jun 2012
What is truth? Does it need to hurt people and make them angry? Certainly not. It is not truth, but a negative interpretation of truth which causes harm. A glass could be half full or half empty. One who observes it as half full will swear, “It is half full,” but another person who observes the glass as half empty will contend, “It is half empty.” If I tell someone for whom the glass is half empty, “You are wrong because I know the glass is half full,” I could potentially hurt that person — and be hurt by that person. When observations differ, it is useless to argue about who is correct. Each person will maintain their opposing stance, and opposition, verbal or otherwise, will only make them dig their heels in deeper. There will be no resolution because what we call truth is not absolute. Truth is a point of view.
Buddha’s teachings about truth tell us that in a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves. What causes anger and hurt is not the truth, but ourselves. Once we learn to identify our role in what we call “truth” we can avoid hurting other people. If I enjoy thinking of a glass as half full, I can share that truth with another even if they believe that same glass is half empty. I can achieve this by explaining that happiness is often associated with a feeling of satisfaction (fullness) rather than a feeling of deprivation (emptiness). Avoiding the judgment of another person is the key to avoiding anger, hurt and eventually stress. Albert Einstein humorously conveyed this notion when he said, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
“I am going to explode if I cannot express the truth,” I heard someone yell once. Obviously, the person was angry and believed that he had the right to express the truth because it was cathartic. Freud used the word “catharsis” to mean “purification,” describing the emptying of emotional reservoirs by crying, laughing, yelling and even by exercise. Much research, like that of Carol Tarvis, concluded that random releasing of ventilated frustrations and feelings of anger does not produce healthy catharsis. Contrarily, these outbursts validate feelings of aggression, reinforcing anger and causing even greater emotional arousal and stress.
Galileo once said, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” How do you discover truth? By discovering oneself. At Hippocrates Health Institute, I have had the pleasure of watching many guests discover themselves. They discover truths about their illness, their wellness, their health, their food, their medicines, their water, their air, their pain, their body, their mind and their spirit.
Vol 30 Issue 2 Page 43