Beginning many years ago, when my suffering sent me to my knees begging god for help, I apparently was granted a few small mercies. In an early morning parking garage: The truth will set you free. In a desert canyon: Know yourself, the rest will take care of itself.
And others like them.
Problem was (as it is for so many of us), I got lost in those words. Literally.
Meaning my mind translated those words in the only way it knew how: through the prism of my unique history. That’s how the mind works.
Which leads to a pretty big error. The mind (or at least my mind) interpreted the truth shall set you free as: Tell the truth and you’ll be ‘freed’ of the consequences of lying.
Makes sense, right? Maybe that’s your interpretation as well.
Over time my definition changed a bit more and I tweaked it to mean that real truth first and foremost begins with oneself. Meaning that if I was honest with myself, I could not help but be honest with those around me. Everyone benefits from my ‘truth.’
My mind got really excited about such wisdom. Wow, I’m really getting somewhere! Heck, I probably blogged about it at the time.
Only, I was wrong. Well, not ‘wrong’ in the egoic sense of things. I mean, if you want to live a reasonably peaceful life and treat others the way you’d like to be treated, honesty certainly is a terrific policy. And I can attest that self-honesty IS useful for healthy relationships and even critical to the so-called spiritual journey. Obviously, if you’re bullshitting yourself or following the bullshit of others, you aren’t going to get very far.
But I was wrong in the larger sense of things for the simple reason the mind’s definition of truth is a far cry from Truth’s definition of itself.
Meaning that the truth shall set you free isn’t positioning ‘truth’ as something you or I must incorporate into our lives. Instead, it is saying that Truth IS – that Truth in and of itself is freedom.
Put another way, you and I are accustomed to seeing life as subjects in a world filled with objects. To the mind, then, truth is just another object to be gained or added to ourselves. “I am truthful.” But the truth about Truth (pun intended), is that Truth is the subject. It is the ONLY subject. You and I are objects to it.
Our minds misinterpret all manner of such teachings. Consider the way the disciples interpreted and reinterpreted and re-reinterpreted the teachings of Jesus, burying the truth beneath layers and layers of their own individually limited interpretations, then proclaiming the output as gospel (truth).
Think about it: If the truth shall set you free was really just about not telling lies, don’t you think the likes of Jesus would simply have said that? “Hey guys, tell the truth and you’ll be free.” Parables not required.
All of which should serve as a caution to us all not to trust our mind’s interpretation of, well, anything. For example, Robert Adams counseled his followers to inquire into the nature of the self, and to ignore any ‘answer’ the mind churned out in response. Your mind, he told them, can only move you farther from the Truth because it is built from and thereby trapped in the past.
Meaning that any Truth capable of setting us free must be found beyond the mind.
I think that’s the idea.