I wrote this blog about truth and the inner flame just before a weekend I’ll teach on 24-26 January in London. You can see more about the event here.
In our current “post truth” world of “alternative facts” you might wonder what is up with the notion of “truth”? Is this still relevant? Is it just a concept? What even is truth? This question has a long pedigree back to biblical times and probably before.
One aspect that makes truth so fascinating to me, is the multitude of different facets of truth. There’s “objective” truth, the sort of “what’s really going on” kind of truth. How it is. How things are. The facts about the things that are NOT your opinion: what day of the week it is, the fact that the person across from you is smiling at you. Facts about reality. Scientific truth. Expert truth. The truth some people seem to have had enough of!
Then there’s subjective truth. How you feel about it, or what you think about it. No-one can tell you this, but you can recognise this truth for yourself. Do I like vanilla or chocolate? Am I happy or annoyed with what just happened? Do I think that’s a good idea or do I think something else?
Objective truth was prized over subjective truth for some of us: “Who cares what you think or want, this is how it is!” And now we have subjective truth trumping (er, sorry) the objective truth: “Who cares what the experts say, what do you think or want?” While it maybe running a little amok, it’s an interesting cultural rebalancing.
The truth is that both truths are inescapably part of the picture! Our lives bounce back and forth between inner and outer truths in all the areas of life. The truth of what you want, what you think, what you’re experiencing right now. The truth of what you need to do in your life, what you feel your role or purpose is. The truth of how the world works in various ways that aren’t up to you. The truth of how you impact others or the world, and how they impact you. The truth of what you have to give to others and to the world, and what they world give to you. Each area is a whole dimension of truth.
Truth evolves and changes from one situation to the next, one year to the next, one life stage to the next, one economic cycle to the next, one degree of global warming to the next. You wanted, thought and felt different things twenty years ago than you do now! The world around you is also very different in countless ways!
Something changes around you, and that in turn changes what you want, what you need to do. Or something changes inside you, you grow, and you’re no longer who you were, you want different things in your life, and you have a different impact on the world.
So this truth is living, personal and changing. But it is not some abstract or absolute notion. It is the simple, direct, honest realness. Your mind has the capacity to recognise or know what you feel or think or want. Your heart has the capacity to FEEL the truth of it. Yes that’s the truth, that’s how it is, that’s what’s real, what’s honest.
It is also part of the truth, that sometimes we will say or do anything – including lie and manipulate the truth – in service of another truth, for example to get what we feel we need to survive! This is also part of the truth of ourselves and of humanity, that we have to deal with and learn to navigate.
It perhaps partly explains the “post truth” and the “alternative facts” that we might encounter. Or wittingly or unwittingly contribute to ourselves.
When we’re not in alignment with the truth, or when something is no longer true – even if it once was – we can feel it. There’s an itch, a dissatisfaction. Something is just not doing it any more!
Often we put that itch out or deny it. But if we’re honest about it, and let the honesty grow, the itch leads us to a longing, a longing to be real. There is a longing for more truth or for the new truth: to find out what it is, and to live it. Nobody really wants what is no longer true for them!
Sometimes there’s a lot of conflict and difficulty as we have to come to terms with some changing truth. But there’s naturally a longing, and if we don’t talk ourselves out of it, we can explore that longing to find out what new truth is emerging.
If we allow it, that longing can become a burning desire, a burning wish to be real, for truth. No more bullshit! A burning fiery consuming passionate love: the heart desiring only what’s real, only what’s true in every moment and aspect of our lives. An experiential flame burning in our hearts that can fuel our life.
This Inner Flame is one of the doorways to being a real human being, to living a real life. Allowing ourselves to feel and follow our heart’s pull to the truth.
So there is no “post” truth. It’s just not true. Maybe “post truth” is just pointing us to a fuller recognition of the different kinds of truth. It turns out that the heart of every human being contains this orientation to what is real, which includes real for them subjectively, and real in their lives. It might be hidden and distorted, but it is inescapably in there if we are willing to acknowledge it and nurture it.
This inner flame is simply part of the inner ocean of who and what we are.