“During times of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
“Truth? What is truth?”
Pontius Pilate Jn. 18:38
Truth can feel distant and it can seem difficult to untwine.
Here’s what I’ve contemplated when sniffing out the truth … I’ve noticed there are 3 types or levels of truth. If you are familiar with the chakra system, these levels seem to fall nicely within it and may prove insightful for meditation.
Truth Level 1 – Root Chakra (you in relation to society, your tribe)
Truth on this level is normative truth. What the majority, the rich, or the powerful of society say is true, is truth. Normative truth can change over time as people in society change. Often normative truth is established as laws. One example is slavery in the USA. Is slavery good or bad, right or wrong? At one time it was legal and anyone who opposed slavery could be shunned, persecuted, fined, or jailed. Now slavery is illegal and anyone who is involved in slavery can be shunned, persecuted, fined, or jailed. Normative truth comes from outside of you, it is determined by your family, tribe, group, community, and/or country. People are changeable and normative truth is a relative truth that changes between countries and over centuries.
Truth Level 2 – Third Chakra (you in relation to you, your personal power)
Truth on this level is subjective truth. This truth comes from what you experience in the world and the information that your external senses give you (sight, sound, touch, taste, etc.). It is your internal truth. For example the statement “Family life is great” may be true to one person who had a fantastic upbringing but false for another who experienced abuse in their family. When people say that you have to find your own truth, they are encouraging you to look into your past and see how it is impacting your future, and then to decide if you want it that way or if you wish it to change. Personality, fears, psychology, self-awareness, and false beliefs (i.e. is it really true that all rich people are selfish) are studied at this level of truth. This is also where you react to the “truth” society is telling you and decide if it’s correct for you. Subjective truth is changeable because you, your growth, and your experiences are changeable. Thus subjective truth is relative truth.
Truth Level 3 – Seventh Chakra (you in relation to God, higher power, the laws of God’s nature)
Truth on this level is absolute truth. It is true for everyone no matter what society says, no matter what you say. It is always true across the ages of time. This type of truth is unchanging and applies to all humankind. It is an external truth that you are free to deny but at the expense of your own self understanding and relationship to others. An example would be the laws determining wavelengths – certain wavelengths create the color spectrum – this spectrum is true for all but not perceived by all. Some people have difficulty perceiving certain colors, other people are color blind and some people are totally blind. But no one can say the wavelength of purple is the same as the wavelength of orange. It is what it is. This type of truth is the framework of the world. To deny it is to deny reality.
Science is the study of the reality of the Truth Level 3 framework but sometimes even science gets it wrong; what they studied and believed one millennia ago is refuted later in time as their understanding and knowledge of this type of truth grows. The truth doesn’t change, but scientists understanding of the truth can and does change.
The God who created the wavelengths of color and all the other natural laws, also revealed supernatural truth. Theology studies this type of truth. Some of this supernatural truth is placed inside the human heart and we know it intuitively from the whisperings of our conscience. Some of this truth has been spoken by God Himself, such as in the 10 commandments.
Do you know what the difference is between a Level 1 normative law of “thou shalt not steal” and the Level 3 absolute truth law “thou shalt not steal?” Let’s say a poor starving person stole a loaf of bread, Level 1 law would enforce the law by putting the poor person in jail, but Level 3 law would condemn the society that forces a person to have to steal bread in order to survive. In Level 3 law, the society would be seen as the thief that steals the potential of poor people to have a livelihood that allows them the opportunity to earn their bread.
In this we have a conundrum … what about those people who are poor, can do some type of work, choose not to, and then steal bread? They would not fall under Truth Level 3, they would fall under Truth Level 1 and punishment would be appropriate. Why? Because they are acting like children who want to be cared for instead of growing up and becoming self-sufficient. Children fall under adult rule which is Truth Level 1, where others tell you what is truth and what to do. Children may have temper tantrums and resistance about that truth but are then punished into submission. That is the way communal peace is held at level 1. Because of their needs and dependence, children have to submit. Adults who place themselves in the role of a child, would also fall into Truth Level 1. Other people in authority would have the right to place demands of obedience and adherence to whatever norm those in authority wished to demand. That is the exchange, dependence for loss of independence, self-authority loses out to authority from others. An example would be that if you want to be dependent on national health care, then the government has the right to tell you what you should and should not eat, and what risky activities you can and can not do; the government would have a vested interest in your health. The government can act in a Level 1 manner on you, regardless of what you personally feel and regardless of Truth Level 3. This is where a real fear comes of euthanasia, health care rationing, and denial of procedures for certain people.
How do we know Truth Level 3 is even true? Let’s look at the example of the person who is color blind and does not see green as green. Green is a wavelength and the natural truth of green does not change if one cannot see it. Yet, their own Level 2 truth tells them one thing and Level 3 truth says another. We conclude the person who does not see green as green has some sort of deficit. The same is true for the supernatural truth/ conscience within us. We know this by those people who have a deficit, the people who do not show a conscience, those we label with psychopathology or as sociopaths. Those acting with a lack of conscience provoke chaos, they have no Truth Level 3 functioning. People who do not have the ability to function at Level 3 have no absolute truth, only relative truth. They do what feels good to them at the expense of others. The only way for others to “survive” a psychopath or a sociopath is with rules and punishment. Being shunned, persecuted, fined, or jailed is what is doled out at Truth Level 1 when boundaries are crossed. Those with a deficit in Truth Level 3 who cannot practice self-control and cross boundaries, forgo their independence and are either threatened with and/or given consequences at Truth Level 1 to keep them in line and to protect those around them.
What happens when relative truth is contradicted by absolute truth, when God’s Truth Level 3 collides against society’s Truth Level 1? Crucification. And then the Easter resurrection. Absolute truth can not be held by the power of relative truth. God cannot be usurped by a God denying society. Because absolute truth is the real eternal truth.
When Pilate asks, “What is truth,” he is sincere. It is complicated. Pilate understood the first levels of truth, but did not fully contemplate God’s immutable truth, even when the author of truth stood directly in front of him, Pilate chose to wash his hands of truth. Let’s not do the same. Let’s reach through the fog, the distance, the tangles, and really sniff out the real level of truth of a situation. Let’s not be deceived, let’s be revolutionary and reach for truth at it’s highest level.
P.S. When considering the supernatural, another conundrum arises that I’ve not addressed. Where does the truth of supernatural acts fit in? Those acts that are not typical for human existence but do occur and are very real albeit rare. Supernatural acts include those people who defy the laws of natural physics such as for example by not eating, by bilocation, through miraculous healing, and by enduring fire without being burned. Sometimes supernatural acts occur from the frighteningly possessed and sometimes they occur from those considered to be holy and a topic this titillating is best left for another day and another post!