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What is Truth?

Sometimes, I wish I could set a trap and capture this thing
called truth, and lock it up in a bottle like I do with the juice
from my freshly squeezed oranges.
I am yet to come across a man or woman who did not express
their desire and love for that which we call truth.
Great wars have been waged and many have perished in
battle because they believed in their hearts they were on the
side of truth.
Does truth exist to serve a purpose or is truth wholly
independent and unaffected by any purpose; whether that
purpose be worthwhile or otherwise?
Does truth evolve or is it unchangeable? Is truth affected by
motive or is it unaffected by intent?
These questions have bedeviled me greatly for much of my
life. I have traveled the world and exposed myself to many
cultures and traditions hoping to better understand this thing
we call truth.
In my quest for truth, I once came across an old woman in
Brazil named Mariah.
This old woman was greatly revered by all who knew her in
the land. She was respected for her wisdom and ability to
understand complex matters regarding humanity.
I posed to her the same question regarding truth. She smiled
and asked me if I ever considered time, and the relationship
time had with truth? The old woman asked me, does time
change Yin?” to which I replied in the affirmative.
The old woman gently retorted:
I beg to differ. I do not believe time changes.
Events change.
It is what we do with time that changes. Not time itself.
We measure the interval between changing events and refer
to those measurements as time.
Yin, the same time which existed at the beginning of the
universe exists unchanged today.
No one knows what time is in its true form. No one has ever
seen time or touched it.
No one has ever felt it in his or her hands.
However, we are witnesses to different events which take
place within time and that is what we measure and refer to
as time.
Time provides us the resource which permits unique events
to occur within space.
How is that related to truth?
Just as time is unchangeable, so is truth.
Just as time is unchangeable except what we do with it, so
truth is unchangeable except what we do with it.
Just as none of us will ever have a full grasp of time; just as
we are all accorded little glimpses, just as we experience
aspects as they relate to time, so none of us will ever know
truth in its fullness.
Everyone experiences time in a different manner even
though time is unchangeable, and so will everyone
experience truth in their own unique and personal way even
though truth is unchangeable.
The old lady told a story to highlight what she wanted to
explain to me regarding truth.
She told me about a great painter in medieval Europe who
was commissioned to paint the portrait of the last supper of
Jesus Christ and his disciples.
The painter decided to find thirteen men to serve as models
for his painting. One model was supposed to represent Jesus
Christ while the other twelve models would represent his
twelve disciples.
The painter expected his models to have physical features
which closely resembled each of the men he was going to
represent in his painting.
Finding the right models proved to be the hardest part of the
painter’s work.
He searched for several weeks until one day, he encountered
a young man in church whose appearance was a perfect fit
for what he imagined Jesus would have looked like. The
painter went on to find other models whose appearances
matched what he imagined was a true reflection of each of
the disciples.
The painter found models for every disciple except one.
He could not find a model who perfectly fit his
conceptualization of Judas Iscariot.
The painter imagined Judas, the traitor who sold his friend
Jesus for a few pieces of silver to those who sought to harm
him; would have an appearance which immediately evoked
the imagery of wickedness.
The face of Judas was supposed to scream greed and
A decade after the painter was commissioned to paint the
last supper, he still had not come across the man who
perfectly fit his profile of Judas Iscariot.
One day, while visiting a prison, the painter came across a
prisoner whose eyes immediately reminded him of Judas.
The man’s face bore the exact look the painter imagined for
the traitor and which had eluded him for a decade.
The painter was granted permission to use the prisoner as his
final model for his painting of the last supper.
The painter worked for days with his model making sure to
capture every feature on his face, so no detail was lost.
As he painted the image of the prisoner, the painter noticed
a change in the prisoner’s demeanor.
The man had an uneasiness about him and seemed to be
greatly bothered by something.
The painter noticed the uneasiness of the prisoner was
getting worse each passing day, so he stopped painting and
asked the prisoner what it was that bothered him so much.
The prisoner was in uncontrollable tears as he screamed:
“I was your model for Jesus Christ ten years ago!”
Yin, why am I telling you this story? What is the relationship
between this story and truth? the old woman asked me.
I tell it to you because what was true regarding the
model at the beginning of the painting project was still true
ten years later, but the application of that truth ten years later
would not have worked the same way it did at the
beginning of the painting project.
While I was still trying to marinade the old woman’s story
regarding the last supper, she continued to hammer home her
point regarding truth.
Consider this statement, Mariah continued as she wrote
something on a piece of cardboard.
She handed me the piece of cardboard and asked me to
interpret what she wrote.
I looked at it carefully and I told her it meant the recipient of
the message would go to war and return safely with no harm
coming their way.
Mariah looked at me and said “your interpretation is right
based on where you put your punctuation.
She wrote two sentences on another piece of cardboard and
handed the cardboard to me.
The two sentences she wrote were:
As I looked at the two sentences she wrote, she asked me if
they meant the same thing. I responded, no. The first
sentence means the subject will return safely from war while
the second statement meant the subject would perish in war.”
True, the old woman retorted. That is what truth looks like.
Truth comes to us in an unchangeable manner just as the
statement I wrote for you.
What truth does is, it presents us with a punctuation, and it
is our job to figure out where to put that punctuation so that
the unchangeable truth becomes our individual and personal
truth. Love, and an open mind are the punctuations truth
presents us.
If we act in love and with an open mind, we will often find
that we place the punctuations exactly where they need to be
so that our personal truth is in perfect alignment with the
unchangeable truth. Any other considerations other than
love and an open mind will likely lead to misplacement of
the punctuation which the unchangeable truth provides us.
Misplacement of the punctuation, will most likely place our
personal and individual truth out of alignment with the
unchangeable truth.
How then do we handle truth so that we do not create
unnecessary strife and wreak havoc on ourselves in the name
of defending the truth like we have done for millennia?
What have we done with time to avoid conflicts and wars in
the name of time that we have failed to do with truth to
prevent chaos and bloodshed in its name?
We created two things for time: Calendars and watches and
they work great for us. I am not aware of too many wars that
have been fought in the name of time.
The reason being, as long as each person follows what the
watches and calendars stipulate, there is agreement the world
over even though time and dates are different everywhere
you go in the world.
Have we created anything for truth to keep us from getting
at each others throats as we have with time?
We do not need a new invention. We already have the
Truth has already presented us with the two pieces of
equipment needed to serve the same purpose watches and
calendars do for time.
The problem is we do not use them the same way we use our
watches and calendars. Why we do not use them baffles the
living breath out of me.
The two tools are:
1. Love: Do all things with pure love and you will
operate in truth.
2. Open mindedness: Approach all things with an open
mind, casting away all filters
and preconceived notions and you will operate in
That is the truth. Do you have any further questions?
The old woman asked me. I looked at her, greatly impressed
by her wisdom. I was speechless. After a moment, I
answered, “no, no further questions.” I thanked her and as I
turned to walk away, something struck me, so I turned
around and asked the old woman a question; I enquired of
“if truth is so elusive, should we then never try to seek it?”
“Great question,” she answered.
“If I may add my own little take on truth, the search for truth
is desirable and I have come to find out based on my own
experience that we tend to go far and wide in search for the
truth only to find out the whole time, truth was staring us in
the face and yet we conveniently refused to recognize it.
Sometimes, because of traditions and culture which provide
us a safe haven from truth. Truth is no respecter of persons,
does not have any favorites and will come to you in the form
of your neighbor who you hate passionately or come to you
in the form of a sibling who makes you angry whenever you
see him.
If we use the second tool truth has presented us, which is:
Approach all things with an open mind’, we will more
quickly identify truth when we see her,” she concluded.
May we operate with love and an open mind in everything
we do so we might get close to the truth in all our endeavors.