Monday, October 13, 2014

What is truth?

In life, many times we encounter obstacles that must be dealt with. Sometimes the counsel is to stop and wait. Other cases, as in hexagram twenty one, we must "energetically bite through the obstacle." Lord, give us the wisdom to know which way to deal with a situation in a given situation. Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet, (hexagram twenty one, and take the plunge. (Hexagram twenty nine). One way to decide is the "smell test." Often in situations in life something just "doesn't pass the smell test." As a kid I often heard the phrase, "there is something rotten in ..."  Now we say "it doesn't pass the smell test." Where people come up with these idioms and expressions I don't know. But the idea is that "something smells fishy." In cases like these it is well to bite through to the truth. And that is one aspect of the meaning of hexagram twenty one, getting to the truth of the matter.

So Pilate said to Jesus, before sending him off for crucifixion, "What is truth." In Christiandom it has been generally acknowledged that that was a sarcastic statement. And maybe it was, but maybe it wasn't. It becomes apparent to many who have been through tremendous struggles that there IS no truth. Truth is only what we make it in the moment, or truth amounts to "might makes right." If we look at history that certainly is apparent that might has decided who is right. But is there an absolute truth? Should we even use the time to find it? Pilate must have ordered the crucifixion of innumerable personages, many of whom probably had no crime greater than by circumstances getting in the way of the powers that be. Sometimes people are crucified or sentenced to death only because they present a challenge to those who are in power, and often they do not even mean to be a challenge. So it is understandable that he would say, "What is truth?" After all, we only do what is expedient, regardless of any morality. Or, in other words, the highest morality, or the highest truth is simply doing what maintains the status quo.

Sometimes in our lives we have to ask the question, what is truth? Or what is THE truth? obviously, we all get lied to at one time or another, even by our best friends. Sometimes that is only so that we don't hurt someone's feelings, but often it can become more sinister than that. So we hear someone say something, and we think, "That doesn't sound right." Then we get suspicious. When we get suspicious we start reasoning about how we can "bite through to the truth." In the commentary on hexagram twenty one it says, "Whenever unity cannot be established, the obstruction is due to a talebearer and traitor who is interfering and blocking our way." So when we see obstructions, it is best to find out what the cause is and remove it. (See hexagram eighteen.) Someone might not be telling us the truth, or they may not be telling someone else the truth about us.

Line four is representative of the obstacle that must be bitten through. But that is not always pleasant. So in ferreting out the truth, we may "receive metal arrows," which in some cases may be a good thing, but often when we find out the truth, it is not pleasant for us. So we have to bite the bullet or accept the metal arrows. Often the truth hurts. Yet we must must get through to the bottom line.

But how often are we our own talebearer and our own worst enemy. Perhaps it is our own deception of ourselves that is causing the problem. Perhaps we do not see things in their true light, and are not objective about ourselves, Then, we ourselves will not pass the "smell test." We will not come across as correct, honest, or forthright to others. Then we have to break through our own obstacles before others do it for us. It will be unpleasant, (metal arrows) for us to find the truth out about ourselves. It will likely be even more unpleasant if others point it out to us. And they may not be so merciful to us as we would be to ourselves. We must have truth within. We cannot be honest with the world if we are not honest with ourselves. Illusions always bring pain with them. If it weren't for the pain, we would likely never recognize our deficiencies. If it weren't for the pain, we may never know we skinned our knee. Sometimes receiving metal arrows can be a blessing in disguise.

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