Thursday, February 15, 2007

Maybe. Maybe not.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we go about determining truth. Sometimes we go by personal experience to determine whether something is true. At other times we may use things like the scientific method to determine whether something is accurate. Depending on the situation, we may use a combination of both, along with other ways of determining truth, like intuition.

The search for truth has been the focus of many throughout history. Is it ever really possible to know for sure though if you've found "the truth"? Our own mind, which we are using to find such truth, is self-limited by its very nature. The mind is self-creating in that whatever we can possibly theorize about the outside world is only what we can create within our three pound universe, our brain. How can we objectively determine what's true while still using the brain with which we ask the questions to begin with? I think sometimes this is the gap where God appears; where we begin to hope for some outside force to give us the objective truth we so deeply desire. But again, just because we can dream it, think it, feel it, create it with our own mind, does that make it true? Does that make it absolutely real?

The more I watch the goings on inside my head, I see how little objectivity I am capable of when it comes to truth. How many more questions there are than answers. And how insignificant my view of the world really is. Each day I find myself answering more and more questions with a 'Maybe. Maybe not'. Most immediately, these questions pertain to my health as that has been an ongoing dilemma for me. I ask: Do the antidepressants I'm being prescribed really work? Maybe. Maybe not. Does Homeopathy work? Maybe. Maybe not. Does massage work? Maybe. Maybe not. And then there's the more existential questions: Is there a God? Maybe. Maybe not. Am I really here? Maybe. Maybe not. Is there life on other planets? Maybe. Maybe not. Does any of this really matter? Maybe. Maybe not.

I have grown bored of my search for answers. I have grown weary of the search for truth. I really just want to enjoy each moment as it comes. Is this the answer? Is this what it's all about? Maybe. Maybe not.

tall penguin

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

God. This is just bullshite. Sure you can't absolutely determine what is true or not, but if that's what you were looking for, then indeed, its a futile search. The journey is more important than the destination. Perhaps thats what living in the moment means for you, living each moment looking for truth. However, even though everything is relative, some things remain more true than others.

tall penguin said...

Hi anon,

Your first two statements seem to indicate you're disagreeing with something I've written here. I'm not quite clear what it is you disagree with.

If "the journey is more important than the destination", are you implying that there IS a destination?

Living in the moment seems like just that, both a journey AND a destination and also neither a journey NOR a destination. It just is.

How exactly do you determine what these things are that "remain more true than others"?

tall penguin

Anonymous said...

A destination infinitely far away is still a destination. Even if truth is unattainable, its still a laudable goal.

How do we determine truth? Thats the destination end of things. You tell me mr smarty pants!

tall penguin said...

Okay anon,

What makes the search for truth a "laudable goal"? What definition do you use to determine what is or is not "laudable"?

You state that the "destination" of truth may be unattainable and then go on to state that the definition of truth IS the destination. I'm confused. How will you know when you've reached the truth if you don't know what you're looking for?

Oh, and it's Miss Smarty Pants.

tall penguin

James said...

It sounds as if you are realizing that in regards to truth -- the mind is a dead end. It thinks it knows, or it thinks it doesn't know, or it thinks this, or it thinks that.

As thought of a tree is not a tree -- what is truly real, can not be thought. It is lived.

IsaacJ said...

I liked your post, Tall Penguin. You describe a problem of the human condition: everything is about our point of view.

I think that truth is absolute in that it is just "the way it really is, period." I think that truth should be our goal. The problem is that even if we get there, we still can't be ABSOLUTELY sure we have found it. We can't even be completely sure if our surroundings are real or just some sort of illusion. (I doubt that it's an illusion, but we have no real way of proving it one way or another) So how can we ever have the absolute truth of anything?

We were both in the WT and both know they are convinced they have the absolute truth despite what I've said. At least people like you are willing to admit you can't absolutely KNOW what "The Truth" is. All anyone really has is a worldview. Taking an absolutist stance about that worldview changes nothing...except to make us seem a little crazy to everyone else.

You have completely outgrown the WT, Grasshopper. Now, if only you can take the pebble from my hand...

Crap. You did it. Okay. Best out of three? How about best out of five? ... :-)

IsaacJ

tall penguin said...

James,

You summed up in a few words what I bumbled over in many. Thank you.

tall penguin

tall penguin said...

Isaac, you make me laugh!

"You describe a problem of the human condition: everything is about our point of view."

Yes, this is what I was attempting to convey. Thank you for seeing it.

tall penguin

james said...

Isaacj, you're right, we could be strapped in a pod with wires feeding us a virtual reality. However, what witnesses the phenominal "reality"?
Here, now, closer than close, is the one undeniable reality and truth we have: conscious-awareness. Why not shift attention into this pool of truth to see what deeper truths can be found?

j

IsaacJ said...

James,

Are you referencing Nietzsche's conclusion, "I think, therefore I am?" That is, do you mean we should look inside ourselves for deeper truths?

If I interpret your question correctly, the only truths I would expect to find are truths about myself. Telling me to shift my focus there would presume that I hadn't been working on that one for some time. :-) But I wouldn't want to become overly self absorbed. What standard would I use to measure the truths I found if I became overly engrossed on the internal at the expense of the external? We need them both. Without a standard, we start believing whatever we want despite the truth. We risk letting our ego get in the way of clear insight.

On the other hand, if you are referring to the observer of the phenomenal reality you spoke of as this "pool" of truth, then I assume are you talking about God or something like God. I don't see any indication that such a being or intelligence exists. Doesn't mean I'm right, obviously. But neither do sagely truisms. ;-D They sound nice, but more direct communication would be helpful. Not trying to pick on you with that, but I prefer clarity to the veneer of mystery and all that. :-)

So straight out with it then, James the Monk! Heh heh. Seriously, tell us where you are going with this one? Did I miss what you were trying to say the first time?

IsaacJ

james said...

Isaacj,

No I am not referring to "I think therefore I am". I'm referring to the Beingness that must exist before thinking.

What silently witnesses everything you write? What sees the mind's thinking process?
What is closer than thought? Certainly if you see thought, you are not thought. What are you really, when all the thoughts and beliefs of what you are are silent?

Thought is only abstract interpretation. What is REAL?

The questions I ask can not be genuinely answered by the mind as the minds products are only counterfeit reproductions. This does not mean that the truth of our identity can not be clearly seen and realized. It just means we will be unable to encapsulate it in thoughts and words.

I'm no monk, if anything I am a radical realist.