August 9, 2016

Different Truths: How to Live with Conflicting World Views.

Man thinking, businessman in nature, deep in thought

I am worried that all of my friends will meet each other one day.

I have been spending a large amount of time studying different philosophical systems and ideologies, as well as religious and spiritual beliefs. Confusion often arises within this myriad of world views. At least twice a week I come to moments where I ask myself if I truly know anything, or if anything can be known (thank you for that, sophists).

I try to put love at the root of my searching, as well as how I connect with others. Because of this, I am concerned about all of my friends and want their worldview to be true, since connection to the truth brings a more fluid life. That being said, when you are friends with devout Christians, Buddhist monks, spiritual seekers, rational atheists, and yogic practitioners, a lot of cross contamination begins to show up.

This month in particular, I have challenged all of my beliefs about morality, the nature of life, consciousness, and truth. Along this journey, there have been powerful moments of confusion and vast feelings of being lost. Thankfully, in any dark moment, we have the opportunity to learn how to navigate the terrain in a more harmonious way.

Here are some of the tips I have understood, which help me continually seek the truth and still keep my friends opinions respected.

1. Logic is a great companion.

The mind is a powerful tool. Sharpening our intellect will help us understand the argument being presented to us rather than being wooed by intricate words. Sometimes I hear things like “quantum consciousness,” “listen to your true self,” “all is one,” and it all sounds amazing, but really those word combinations have very little meaning in my subjective experience. If someone truly understands their point, they can present it in a way that will help us understand enough to know whether or not they are presenting truths or fancy lies.

And, as with all great tools, it can be misused. I believe the mind will cause us many headaches if we are always trying to decode and break down every single individual thing for our understanding. Some moments and phenomena are in fact larger than the mind can comprehend, and with that we must trust our experience and intuitions at the time. They may mislead us, but in the space where words can’t be formed, gambles must be made.

2. Always give philosophical charity.

There is an idea in philosophy that when we are presented with a system of beliefs, it is best to try and understand rather then dismantle and break it down. The difference comes from how we hear. Are we looking for flaws or trying to find out what it is we are being shown?

I believe that from a place of charity, another person’s ideas can be acknowledged and comprehended to a higher degree. If, however, we see flaws along their explanation, bring them up by all means! Charity does not include you sacrificing your mind so you may agree, it means letting another present their idea and comparing it with the truth that we understand at that time.

3. Doubt your beliefs heavily!

We often find it easy to throw doubt on another’s beliefs because they seem far-fetched, strange, or just don’t make sense with what we know. But we must always remember that our view of reality is not perfect simply because we are living inside it, and not outside looking in!

The truth is inherently solid, it will never change. 2 + 2 will always equal 4 and love is always preferred over fear, that’s simply the way it is. So if we have beliefs that we feel are true, then allow yourself to doubt without worry! If we find out our “truth” was wrong, wonderful! Now we get to seek the real truth.

And my final rule,

4.  Relax, there is no need to panic!

Even Jesus said, “and which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matt. 6:27 ESV)

What must be held is a mixture between full forced seeking as well as a calm, relaxed internal space. We seek truth of our subjective and objective realities with a peaceful presence. I find this is best for our own sanity as well as for others, so we don’t cause harm and pain along the path.

Opinions will differ, life will not always agree with what we think or feel to be right, but we must not lose hope. We must forage through the difficulty and confusion to try and reach a place of understanding. The truth shall set you free, and with that freedom we can live a life of splendor, love, joy, and harmony!


Author: Nicholas Goodman

Image: Julian Jagtenberg/Pexels

Apprentice Editor: Meghan Alton; Editor: Catherine Monkman


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