Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Many truths, one path
There is only one path, but it has many truths on it. No one can carry all the truth, so individuals select all the truth they can shoulder, and carry that. Each man and woman, carrying his or her burden, wants to believe that they are capable, and doing the right work, so each one reports that the burden they carry is the right burden.
No one wants to be accused of having collected the wrong truths on the path. Everyone wants a full basket; and everyone wants the basket to be filled only with goodness. Men forget that truth comes in many forms, and not all of them are good ones. Many truths are difficult or ugly or even terrifying, as Ibn Al Arabi reminds us. Yet we persist in our naïve belief that it is otherwise.
Why are we so? Isn't the infinitude of truth self-evident? This subject alone is worthy of a book.
So each man or woman, presuming they are intelligent enough to know the difference, fills their basket and carries on on this single path called life, which each one of us traverses, insisting that they have the right basket filled with the right truth. Arguments ensue. Cudgels are employed. None of it does anyone even a bit of good; kings and paupers are on the same path, and every one of us ends in the grave.
As I pointed out in the last post, the object is to reach something real in oneself before death, rather than having death do our work for us. Believing that there is one truth but many paths is delusional. Coming to a sense of one's own nothingness, and being ever aware of our own death—Gurdjieff's timeless adages— these keep us focused on the fact that there is only one path. Sometimes, great shocks in life can remind us that we are on this one path, but generally, when we are asleep, we have all the attention of butterflies distracted by every new flower that opens.
The path of the Yogi is the only real path, and it's recapitulated in every myth and every practice in one way or another. It embodies material cosmic truths that are unavoidable given the inevitable consequences of materiality itself. This isn't a complex technical matter; it's simple enough to be transmitted in fairy tales, if people only understand them correctly. It belongs to the collective unconscious, and every man or woman ought to have an organic sense of these truths in the first place. The fact that we delude ourselves with the belief that there are an endless series of options is peculiar.
We want to be that way; we want our basket to be the best basket with the best truth, and we want to believe that the truths we have selected were the only right ones, even though looking around this, it's obvious there were countless alternatives. This is what ego is all about; filling our basket up with as much stuff as possible and then bragging on it.
Well, we are all like that, aren't we, by and large? I think the impulse is natural. It starts out from a wish for things to be good, and to be right. The difficulty is that it's our wish; and we all know what happens in the fairy tales where the person gets their own wish... so often, it goes horribly wrong.
In the end, perhaps, we should admit to ourselves that this practice of thinking that we have the only "right" practice is foolish.
The real practice, the sacred practice, lies deep within ourselves, and it is the forever unknowable practice.
We do not and cannot know God, no matter how we know Him by His names.
I respectfully hope you will take good care.