Category Archives: truth

Subjective and Objective in the Search for Truth

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Is “truth” totally subjective?  The word “subjective” is often used as a way of dismissing an experience as not real or indicating it has no validity in the scientific sense.  And “science” (read objective, material, physical) is the implied contrasting view that, by comparison, invalidates the merely “subjective” perception.  But the conceptual-terminology-division of objective science on the one hand and subjective metaphysics on the other is fundamentally wrong. 

Consider the symbol of the hyphen.  The origin or root meaning of the word “hyphen” derives from a word meaning “one.”  It means, literally “one.”  This simple symbol provides a practical conceptual means of relating or unifying words, and by extension, their corresponding concepts.  It is a conceptual tool and reminder that we should question each dichotomy to see to what degree we are satisfied with a given intellectual division. 

In some metaphysical writings one comes across the concept of spirit-matter.  Spirit and matter are regarded, in a sense, as one “thing.”  (“Thing” is not quite the right word, but it will have to do.)  The idea is that spirit and matter are parts of a continuum.  So also such closely related concepts as physics-metaphysics, and subjective-objective.  This way of thinking suggests a method of reexamining words and concepts, and in this light, we may think that it is not correct to say that truth is “subjective.”  Also, it is not correct to say that truth is “objective.”   To separate things in such a simplistically binary way is unnatural because in nature and in our experiences we find gradations everywhere.  Such analysis reminds us, for instance, that what we regard as the most objective science is the product of a subjective entity, the human mind.
 
Likewise, it is not correct to say that truth is personal or impersonal. All such binary verbal-conceptual formulations always miss the mark to some degree.  When we submit to the divisions implicit in the many word dualities, we automatically set up false psychological and perceptual divisions that can mislead us.
 
We could say that truth is both objective and subjective, though this is also an approximation.  Or we could say that whatever is the next evolutionary step for us (or more broadly, for any entity), is our or their “truth.”  It is not that this is “subjective,” but rather that it is individual—a different thing. There is “relative” truth that’s defined by an individual’s current location in the scheme of things, yet all our individual or relative truths are surrounded, defined, and stand in relation to absolute truth.  Our little truths derive their relative light and merit from an absolute foundation. 

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Popular Appeals

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We should be cautious of a teaching that is popular.  Mass acceptance often means the truth has been diluted or inverted.  A truly fresh and uplifting teaching is unlikely to appeal to large numbers because the appeal must be based on non-egotistic appeals that are not popular.   The teachings of the great religions of the world were not popular at the time they were founded.  After centuries of debasement, obscurations and distortions—only then did they descend to a popular level.

 

image loosely based on the book Truth and the Dragon by Elsa Bailey

Paradox

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Quotations

“There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.”

— Niels Bohr

“It is a platitude as well as an occult paradox to say that in the midst of profound personality distress and unhappiness, the joy of the soul may be known and felt.”

A Treatise on White Magic, Alice Bailey

“…it is necessary primarily to preserve the personality but be freed of egotism. To many, such an antithesis will seem absurd; for them, egotism is personality. The manifestation of a powerful personality devoted to the General Good is beyond the imagination of many, but without personality thinking would not have potency.”

— Helena Roerich

 

Paraphrased paradoxes

We have all the time in the world, but there is no time to loose.

One must achieve detachment. But detachment is separation, and one must achieve unification that is the ultimate “attachment.”

We are to be oriented to the soul that takes us away from the world. At the same time we are to be oriented to humanity that involves us in the world.

The individual is of supreme importance, and at the same time not important at all because it is the larger whole that is important.

Death is the result of a living process.

All metaphysical teachings are full of abstract concepts, yet it is said that nothing abstract is of any use. What’s the use of anything abstract? Abstract floats lonely in the upper regions of the cosmic undefined.

Someone speaks about the concept of truth within and the need to turn within. Notice the paradox between this and the concept of unity. Since unity exists, turning within can also be turning without. Since unity exists, looking without is in one sense looking within. So it appears, that in broadening of consciousness, the distinction between inner and outer melts away.

Contradictions may be considered as different aspects of the same manifestation. But if one, then there is no contradiction.

 

More Quotations

“Nothing is farther than earth from heaven; nothing is nearer than heaven to earth.”

— Hare & Charles

“All high truth is the union of two contradictions.”

— Robertson

“The Fanatic Is The Man Who Cannot Understand A Paradox. Most fanatics, cranks, and madmen, are those who are unable to understand a paradox. Every truth has its opposite, which is also true. Sanity consist in understanding this; insanity in failing to see it.

Workable, every day truth is made up of two or more contradictions. The true doctrine is always the balance. For instance, the truth lies not in fate (determinism, predestination) nor in free will, but in both. Man is not a spirit, nor a brute; he is both. Whoever excludes wholly the one or the other from his idea of man is not so much untrue as he is crazy.”

— Frank Crane

Words seem to spring from classifications and division, yet the paradox is that every word may become catalyst. So, ultimately, words bridge the gaps between divisions, yielding sparks of amazing cognition.