“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself.”
~ Saint Augustine
Truth is a property which I have been wrestling with in the last week. How we define truth, what constitutes a truth, and whether multiple truths are simultaneously possible, are difficult questions with difficult answers. I will not attempt to answer any of them. Instead, examining the inverse of truth, the lie, more specifically the conscious lie, can perhaps shed light on the importance of the truth in walking a life path built on honesty and reality.
“A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern the truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others.”
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
A conscious lie, big or small, degrades the soul. I make this distinction between conscious and unconscious lies deliberately: many actions, probably more than we are willing to admit, are made unconsciously, and it is possible to ‘lie’ without full consciousness of guilt (a possible limitation of the infamous Lie Detector Test?). That being said, the subconscious brain, that part of the mind that stores memories, experiences and beliefs, is paying attention to your words and actions, even when you yourself are not paying conscious attention. The subconscious brain is what drives our intuition and is foundational to our sense of right and wrong. To lie is to say to yourself, “I believe this to be true despite me knowing otherwise” — to lie is to taint your subconscious mind, and subsequently the lens through which you see the world. A delicate and aligned balance between the conscious and subconscious mind is therefore critical in thinking clearly about oneself and the world. How you act and what you tell yourself and others should be in line with your experience and beliefs — your thoughts, words and actions should be as one. To act in any way contrary to your personal beliefs is to lie.
There is good news and bad news. The good news is your truth is yours to derive, and is best derived solely by you. There is much to learn from the words and works of others, but there comes a point in everything where one must choose what to believe and not to believe. This is a choice best made alone, and to do so honestly is all that is required. The bad news is that it is solely your responsibility to hold yourself accountable with regards to your beliefs and the actualization of those believes in your words and actions. That is not to say one cannot be wrong or change one’s mind — in fact, learning from failure and mistakes and the continual remodeling of oneself is integral to the developmental process. However one must be willing to be wholly himself, and take what comes as a result of that. To do that, one must accept what they alone want to accept, and discard the rest. We are too often tempted to subscribe to the beliefs of the times, or those men and women who are esteemed. We must shy away from that urge, and bare our cross alone. To live or die for a cause not your own is a disgrace.
“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Will you choose the honest truth, your honest truth, or what is easy and expedient?