What is truth?


What is the difference between culture and Truth? Truth can inform culture, but it seems that culture also informs "truth." For example, humans rewrite truth to tailor it to our cultural habits and beliefs. Conceptions of the right way to think and behave change and change again. If it's true that "Truth is one and eternal," how can we be sure we are thinking and behaving in accord with truth, and not merely with the zeitgeist of our lifetime?

—Kristen, United States


Dear Kristen,

The search for ultimate truth is as old as humankind. One wants to approach such a question as yours with a certain perspective and humility.

We humans consider “true” a wide range of ideas from opinions, to likes or dislikes, prejudices, habits, facts, precepts, beliefs, dogmas, and states of consciousness, to list a few of the more obvious.

From a spiritual or meta-physical point of view, that which is true is true always. Einstein’s quest for a universal field theory (or whatever he called it!) has its roots in the human intuition that underlying all phenomena lies an essential reality. We can call this Truth, or God, or anything else!

From the standpoint of so-called “mysticism” or the revelation of the rishis of East and West, it has been said that God is One! That all life partakes in the Spirit and consciousness of God. That there is none other. And so on.

Subjectively or individually and from a meditative point of view, we might say that Truth is experienced in the state of mind that has been called, inter alia, “superconsciousness.” Other terms such as samadhi, divine ecstasy, satori, enlightenment and the like have been used (with varying degrees of precision and meaning) to describe what must be admitted is a universal human expereince.

Universal doesn’t necessarily mean every human being reports these experiences but that these are reported down through history in every culture by men and women of integrity, truthfulness, and compassion.

Thus, from these perspectives, there is little relationship between culture and truth. Culture is necessarily influenced by tradition, custom, climate, language, and history. Truth is One, universal, unchanging and beyond the ever-changing world of the senses and of matter.

In perfect stillness we intuit this blissful realm which is the source of all things in manifestation, including ourselves. From the beatitude of this experience we grow in calmness, wisdom, confidence, and vitality.