What Is Truth? Does It Change with Time and Place?


I believe that truth can flow from all direction and that saints of all religions teach according to the needs of their time. According to the concept of the yugas [ages of time], what was perceived and taught in the Satya Yuga [the highest age] is the eternal truth. Do saints of all religions teach this eternal truth in all yugas or is this eternal truth partially perceived and taught?

—Amor, India


Dear Friend,

You bring up a valuable point, and, a complex one. Every Sunday at the Ananda Festival of Light Service, we say “Truth is One and Eternal.” If truth is One, why do so many creeds exist and why does it seem that saints teach different aspects of it?

We must, I believe, begin with the statement that “TRUTH” isn’t a well constructed definition. One might say that Truth is God; truth simply IS; truth is love; it is infinite — but even so, truth must be “realized” (“experienced”) as a state of consciousness, not as an intellectual construct.

But having admitted that, we might also benefit from acknowledging that in this world of limitation, ignorance, duality, and many levels of consciousness (going through the four stages of the yuga cycle), the attempt to articulate with words “What is true” must necessarily be far less than perfect.

Jesus Christ reprimanded his disciples several times for their inability to grasp the meaning of his words. In turn, his disciples complained to him about the fact that he, Jesus, taught using only parables (stories) rather than precepts (intellectual and abstract concepts). Jesus’s answer was that the common person of his time could not grasp abstract thought and, besides, probably wouldn’t even understand the deeper meaning of his stories! But he said, “I will reveal to you” the truth. Krishna says to Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita), “To you who is without the carping (argumentative) spirit, I will reveal truth sublime.”

On another occasion, Jesus scolded his antagonists and stated that the laws of Moses had to be watered down because the people of his time were not ready for a purer teaching.

If you are a parent or teacher of a small child, you must instruct and guide the child according to the child’s ability to hear and accept and change. Thus, down through ages, saints have had to tailor their teachings in ways that would prove practical and helpful to those “with ears to hear.” It’s not that the truth is different but each one of us is at a different stage of development and therefore need to “hear” that which will help to move forward and upward.

In Satya Yuga, I believe that the need for different forms of faith (religions) will all but disappear as most souls in that yuga will directly perceive the divinity underlying all creation. Perhaps then there will be no temples or churches. Every act, every thought, every feeling will be in harmony with the divine, indwelling, omnipresent vibration of Aum and the wisdom of God. Nonetheless, in every yuga there are souls who live in that blessed state. The clarity and purity with which they can express and share that state, however, may be tempered so that those who come to them for wisdom might be able to benefit.

Only in the state of superconsciousness is the wisdom of the soul ready “to receive the truth that shall make us free.” I hope these remarks will be helpful for you.

May blessings, grace, and wisdom flow to and through you!
Nayaswami Hriman