Two truths


Buddhism states that there are always two truths, the personal truth and the absolute spiritual truth. I would suggest that in this world, we are not likely to have much experience with the latter. However, I think that the former is also worthy of further thought. The thing is, when we use the word “truth”, we mean that we are not consciously distorting our knowledge and understanding. Let us suppose that we are individuals of high integrity, and that we are not being ‘economical’ with our truths. However, that is all we can offer, our truth.

This represents the sum of the knowledge and understanding that we have at this moment; tomorrow it may change as we learn more or interpret what we know differently. Of course, this is true for each person. So if you have two entirely honest people, who wish to be totally candid with each other, at the very best all they can do is swap their own version of their current truths. This process is further diminished by the fact we use language differently and can easily misconstrue what another has said. Is it any wonder that people can argue about who is telling the truth? I think it is all together more remarkable that we ever agree!

Who is telling the truth about what is happening in the Middle East the Islamic Jihadist or the right-wing American Christian fundamentalist?

I think the truth is a destination that we are unlikely to reach in this life time. The best we can offer each other is our open understanding, a little humility and a good listening. So if you find yourself in conflict today, try listening a little longer, questioning a little better and doing so with an open heart.

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” Albert Einstein

“There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.” Alfred North Whitehead




  1. The Whole Truth (an earlier blog)


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