The Secret Truth

Amidst the facade and fictional overlay of the world, there is an underlying truth. This is not a reference to the validity of factual knowledge, but more so to the truth in perception. What is the true nature of all that is? We ask these questions in every waking moment of our lives, but normally not through conscious methods. We question subconsciously. We are unaware seekers, eternally blinded by the fog of ignorance, yet still questioning what we perceive in some deeper facet of our minds. There is an aspect of humanity’s primal nature rooted in the bliss of ignorance: the conditioning of our minds on the basis of prior bias and prejudice. Environmental factors, over a period of time, result in a developing pattern of thought that tends to stick with us for life. This pattern is the epitome of ego. It leads us into an existence founded in ignorance.

The struggle between the security of ignorance and the piercing clarity of truth is well documented. Humanity is not entirely oblivious to it’s superficial perception of reality, even though most do not choose to acknowledge it. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” a few subjects are chained where all they can see are shadows of real objects on the wall in front of them. Their backs are to the entrance of the cave, and so the subjects did not know of anything more ingrained in truth than the faux images. They were ignorant of the honest reality of the world.

This struggle is again expressed in a modern film, “The Truman Show.” The lead character, Truman, is the star of a television show that he believes is the real world. His family, friends, and any other humans he interacts with are merely actors. His hometown, Seahaven, is only a giant set. Truman believes everything is real while his actions are unknowingly being broadcasted to the entire nation. The movie introduces Truman at a time when he is only beginning to realize there is something not right or authentic about his life. The film documents Truman’s ascension into the real world and into knowledge similar to that of Plato’s cave dwellers.

“We accept the reality of the world in which we are presented.” This quote emanated from the directer of “The Truman Show.” Truman Burbank lived his life in a television show since birth, knowing no other reality. Acceptance of the world as he saw it was ingrained in his mentality. He firmly believed that the lifestyle he was living was normal. In Plato”s “Allegory of the Cave” the subjects in the cave watched the shadows believing they were completely founded in truth. The actors Truman grew to love and trust are metaphors for the shadows the subjects in the cave accepted as real. There were times when Truman was informed he was living a life of lies in a television show, but he was unable to understand them in his ignorance. Similarly, when a subject in the cave was told that more to life existed than the cave itself, he could not believe it, proving that ignorance is blinding. It was not until he witnessed the true reality or world for himself that his eyes were opened. This struggle and eventual realization is synonymous with that of Truman’s.

In the film, the viewers of “The Truman Show” religiously watch the events in Truman’s life, basing their own lives around his decisions and actions. Like Truman, they are controlled by the puppeteers, or directors, of the show. Once Truman escaped into the true world, the viewers found other shows to watch. It can be said that people in a media-driven society are prisoners like those in Plato’s cave. We watch television as they watch the shadows of the puppets, and base our lives around such. For example, commercials espouse certain products, advertising them profusely. We give in to this pressure and purchase them accordingly, only reinforcing the metaphorical prison we all are enchained in.

Plato would agree that both his “Allegory of the Cave” and “The Truman Show” are merely paradigms of an overall human condition. We all are slaves to ignorance and a limited perception of “what is.” Each of us believes in a monochrome reality, one in which our vision of the world is truth, and anything else is in opposition to that viewpoint. Like the prisoners in the cave, we cannot see the truth, and therefore we cannot fathom the existence of it. This inhibition can be transcended, but only through courage and introspection. The truth is paramount, but unless the ignorance of accumulated conditioning and a superficial perception are overcome, we will forever be blind to the beauty of what truly “is.”

Wake up. The truth is within you.

Shades of Gray

You are the captain of a ship that has sunk. There are thirty people trying to stay afloat on a lifeboat, which is only meant to hold twenty. It will sink momentarily, unless something is done. There are two distinct choices: Since the boat will need rowed to shore, you could throw the ten weakest people overboard, thereby ensuring the safety of at least some lives. Or, you could allow everyone to stay, sinking the boat, and most likely dooming everyone aboard. What do you do?

…..

Morality and ethics are far from absolute. For each individual, the bridge between right and wrong is different. In some cases, the contrasts are only marginally at odds, although others can be more drastic in their differences. There is an aspect of the human psyche that is prone to viewing reality in black and white. This dualistic world view separates life into two distinct categories: right and wrong, moral and immoral, or good and bad.  

Not every dilemma has an answer. There may never be a perfect solution for each intricate equation we face in life. The assumption that there can only be two choices is inherently flawed. For the sake of delving into the philosophical realm of ethics, legalism and rigid boxes are fine and dandy. Nevertheless, I must disagree that this is a realistic or practical outlook. In many circumstances, it is never easy to analyze or pinpoint the “right” path to take. Of course, there are still times when a moral choice is clearly black or white, but one must realize that this outlook doesn’t apply to every situation.

In the end, it must be understood that moral dilemmas in life cannot always be answered by adhering to a civic code. We must follow our conscience, and judge dilemmas based on circumstances rather than how they apply to a strict ideology. Our intuition should be a great asset in these situations. Sometimes, all we see is the black or white, when truly, the matter is only painted in shades of gray.

Forgotten

I’ve always found it intriguing how a single perspective can become the dominate way of viewing reality. No matter how flawed the outlook, we can become blinded. Eventually we become puppets to the vision, and we lose sight of any alternative. The possibility of stepping back and seeing the bigger picture becomes null.

Every kernel of time harbors an infinite amount of possibilities and events. Each second bears witness to the indefinite and the undefinable. We often forget here on Earth that our lives and experiences only comprise an infinitesimally small fraction of the totality.

Time is relative. The reality in which our consciousness resides is certainly not the bigger picture. It is an extremely limited viewpoint that forms the basis of all suffering. It is a rampant addiction to personalizing all of the pain we endure in life. If such a perspective becomes ingrained at an early age, is there any means of transcendence?

There are moments when something akin to an epiphany intrudes upon the cacophony of our flawed reality. There are moments when we are overcome by an intuition or inspiration that renders our critical conscience useless. We become vessels of the deepest creative powers. These moments constitute true beauty. The incessant drone of that voice in our heads is halted, even if it is only for a moment. Within that single second, the truth becomes apparent. The empty expanse of the page behind the text is revealed.

We perceive ourselves in these momentary glimpses, but is is inherently not our Self that we encounter. We are encountering the crystal depths below the surface of a turbulent sea. This epiphany opens our hearts and minds to the undefinable depths that constitute our true being.

In that single second we see the bigger picture. We understand the futility of maintaining our flawed perspective. In that single blink of an eye, the truth is apparent. And like the sun obscured on a cloudy day, it’s over. And then we forget.

Transience

Dusk was settling in and the fireflies began illuminating our vista with intermittent rhythm. I grasp tightly to the aged, shriveled hand nestled in mine and project our souls into the surrounding dance of light. Mindless, unconcerned, and only existent in a reverie of love, we dance; my Miriam and I. Hearts colliding and minds twirling, our projected essences mingle into one. Our earthly shackles have fallen away: the world weariness and diminishing life that constitutes old age. I look into my beloved’s eyes and find, in this moment, recognition. Recognition and Love.

The receding light of day is a reminder of life’s transitory nature. Our bodies wither, ambition dulls, and eventually our minds fade, similarly to the waning strength of the sun. Returning to earth and the wooden rocker on my front patio, I glance over at Miriam’s flower bed nestled against an old magnolia. The forget-me-nots have been invaded by weeds and neglected by their normally devout caretaker. They were her children, the product of her love and nurturing. Now they had been forgotten, wilting and choked with crabgrass.

My thoughts linger on death, the unavoidable destination people shy away from. When a loved one exits this reality and begins the great adventure, why do we mourn? Is it love? Attachment? We can reason and say that dying is a process of nature and something we should cherish as a facet of life itself. But why do we feel a heartache and grief that keeps us awake at night? Why do our hands shake with sadness when we lift a pencil to write? My darling Miriam is physically sound. Her bodily strength ebbs just as surely as mine, however the degradation of her memories—her heart— is a painful realization greater than death itself.

Twilight deepens and the fiery insects emerge in abundance. Long shadows adorn the lawn, stretching to the front steps like fingers probing for a thing almost lost. The day was over, and the sun diminished. Knowing it was time to retire for the night, I clamber to my feet. I offer my hand to Miriam, our eyes meeting in the twinkling light of fireflies. In that moment, I realize some part of her has finally passed on. Confusion and bewilderment replace the recognition I searched for earlier. A lone tear trails down my old face as I understand. Even love can die.

Note: Researchers have discovered that emotions outlast memories. Victims of severe Alzheimer’s are still capable of increased happiness when meeting friends or family. If you are loved one of such individuals, please know that you DO have an effect. Your affection WILL make a difference. And most importantly, love CAN transcend impermanence.

Under the Cedar Tree

I was surrounded by a thicket so dense I could almost feel the rhythmic throbbing of hearts in every tree. The needles beneath my feet padded every footstep, and my tread was silent. I could hear the birds chirping their songs of joy and sweet content, careening through the skies like angels patrolling the heavens. Dawning bright and glorious, sunlight crept through the branches. I reveled in these sporadic windows of light and warmth. I felt the thrum of life in every direction, and it was invigorating. Good morning Serenity, I thought to myself.

There was a friend hiding somewhere in this forest of cedar trees. My friend and your friend; a friend to us all.  Sometimes I could hear her calling from a limb above my head. Or maybe she was whispering from just behind my back. Every time I looked up or turned around, her kind cajoling ceased to invite me. Her presence wavered in and out of my consciousness elusively, like a guttering candle in the wind. I danced on the threshold of frustration, and somehow I felt that this would be the greatest impediment to my quest. Most could never find their friend in the forest. Some searched, but always in the wrong direction. This friend did not like to hide, for it was not her nature. The wanderers of the forest had merely forgotten how to look.

My passage through the thicket was halted when I met a wounded tree in my path. This broad cedar bore an impressive girth and towered above its neighbors. How lucky I was to witness this goliath; still a King of the Wood however marred his flesh had become. I gazed upon a charcoal wound spanning the diameter of his trunk, stretching from the base to several feet above my head. The King had been a victim of fire, in similarity to how the wanderers had been victimized by life. I had garnered many scars of my own throughout this search for a friend. The forest had dealt its blow in numerous ways, and I grew wary of the endless suffering. Deciding to break from the pain and momentarily renounce my title of seeker, I sat down beneath the cedar tree. Crossing my legs, I thought: There is no place like here and now. 

A lesson can be found within the needles and bark of trees, like the one I was leaning my back upon at that moment. These envoys of wisdom toil with the natural forces of the greater wood, collecting garish wounds in the process. However, they do not suffer from such adornments. The King at my back lived on, healing ever so slowly with lasting remnants of his scar. Yet he did not fight back, for all trees know that scars are inevitable. This unconditional acceptance was captivating and held me in sway. This compliance with the whimsical and unpredictable nature of life was compelling. In an act of capitulation, I turned inwards and yielded to the throes of existence. It was then that I found my friend. She had never been hiding, but merely resting below the surface of where I chose to search. My quest to seek the hand I wished to hold was over, and it ended under the cedar tree.

Hope is a Fickle Thing

The total obliteration of hope within the human consciousness is an uncommon occurrence. There is a strength of will and mental fortitude within the human psyche that keeps our soul and very spirit on top of its game. The nearly indomitable belief that a better outcome is always possible can be likened to faith in the most powerful of senses. However, hope can still be trampled and forgotten, or merely overridden by a plethora of fear and depression.

In this sense, the realization of hope can be quite fickle. It is usually present within our hearts, although humanity has a way of forgetting their most beautiful mutual characteristics. When we are placed in a situation of extreme stress and anxiety, a certain blindness can overcome our good sense. We succumb to the tyranny of emotional turmoil and lose faith and conviction. But hope in the deeper sense is usually present, although sometimes it takes the likeness of a gem buried beneath the rubble.

I’ve noticed an intriguing paradox concerning the concept of hope. One can deny the impetus of this force, and even believe, in all honesty, that its practical uses are few and far between. However, this cannot stop an individual from hoping entirely. We all wish for better times and a brighter future, even when the fruits and bounty of life are served to us on a gold platter. The choice between faith and action is not a necessary decision, no matter the rhetoric some may jaunt.

Hope and faith, in actuality, are the result of positive action. This equation cannot be lived in a one-sided manner. Hope stems from action, and this action, in turn, produces a new infusion of hope. Faith alone may guide us in times of strife and confusion, for it is the fire within us that dreams of what could be; the passionate desire for an idealistic outcome. Yet, this expectation and feeling of desire for a certain thing to happen must be acted upon.

Indeed, hope is a fickle thing, but fickle in the sense that it is always in the process of burial and renewal. We all have that flicker of something beautiful within us; that core of innate longing for an outcome that goes beyond mere survival. A very testament to the will of humanity, hope is our light. It is the mutual drive that propels our society, consciousness, and dreams ever forward.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Relationships are often the focus of emotional speculation and sometimes, unfortunately, derogatory criticism. It it my opinion that this outlook stems from a misunderstanding of the mysterious phenomenon called love and an often one-sided view of relationships in general.

In order to develop the correct understanding of love, one must first dissolve any preconceived notion they might have developed from a worldly source, namely the media and the cultural leaders we call celebrities. Secondly, one must understand the three fundamental components of any true relationship. They are also relevant in the context of friendships.

The most vital component of any relationship is sincerity. One must e completely honest to their partner, but to an even greater extent, themselves. Truth of heart, truth of mind, and truth of character comprise the fundamental pillars of this concept.

Integrity is an often overlooked attribute in the development of relationships. Everyone follows their own moral code; a set of ethical standards. Admittedly, this code can vary drastically depending on the individual, however it is there, all the same. Integrity is the willingness of one to adhere to their own conscience.

The final aspect of an enduring relationship is compassion, an almost indescribable force that seems completely at odds with human nature. Love is founded in the deepest compassion. It is the understanding and caring tenderness that occurs in those completely speechless moments of devotion and spiritual attraction, regardless of superficial factors including personal identity.

You can sum up these components in a simple commandment: Be true. You deserve your honesty as much as anyone else, whether applied to friendships, or a deeper relationship. Cultivating your inner characteristics results in a more powerful outward experience. Too many times have I witnessed individuals falling away from each other because of superficial discrepancies, which are only existent as an effect of inner turbulence and misunderstanding. I have come to the realization that ignorance of the true nature of love often predates the collapse of relationships. My message to anyone, whatever form of relationship you may in, is to find a cure for your ignorance. Take those necessary steps to understand. And most importantly, Be true.

Heroic Humanity

Looking at humanity from a detached point of view can be enlightening, yet quite frankly, confusing. At first glance, we seem to be a selfish and fairly materialistic folk. Consider our vain treatment of appearance and the standards of society we deem so important to adhere to. How about our ineptitude in liking someone for who they are, rather than how they compare to us? Some would consider this human nature, with anything greater being a true anomaly. While I am still a dreamer, one who hopes and believes in a better future, it can be difficult to ignore the grim aspects of humanity.

Despite our seemingly inherent egotistical tendencies, there is a deeper character in most humans. This character finds expression in the facets of life that often go unmentioned or undiscussed. This is heroism, an utterly selfless act of compassion that defies our normal self-preservationist mind frame. It is completely voluntary, often involving a particular risk, and is carried out without need for material gain or recompense. Being a hero is more than doing your duty, or following through with something you have been charged to do. Being a hero is about acting without hesitation or fear for your own safety.

The very basis of heroic humanity is founded in altruism. This principle can become a belief or practice, one of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Coupled with courage and decisiveness, heroism becomes a true possibility. My goal in life is to be a hero, both in the official and unofficial senses. My goal is to inspire, love, and protect those I care about, as well as to do something truly remarkable for a complete stranger on a daily basis.

Humans are capable of suffering, both enduring and inflicting. We are capable of truly horrendous wars, murder, genocide, and hurt. We are unforgiving when it comes to defending belief and tradition. Despite our total lack of appreciation for our shared humanity, we are always in some form of conflict, either internal or external.

Yet, we are also capable of so much more. We can coexist if we find common ground. We can discover what it means to be a hero, and live our lives in betterment of our brothers and sisters around us. It stands evident that there is something within our hearts, something nameless and profound, that has the potential of uniting us in a brotherhood of humanity. This phenomenon is called love; the very clay of creation. From the words of John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

Be a hero.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?

The Greater Man

A cascade of leaves erratically flies in a gust of wind. Competing forces pull to and fro, sending them in wayward directions. Unplanned, spontaneous, and totally free. Traveling somewhere we can never guess, they present a paradigm of life. In essence, we are all merely leaves, being carried throughout existence by an unseen and greater hand. We all ride the wind, and we all are traversing the same path, with only minor deviations. This force is powerful enough to carry the multitude of our spirits. There is always a breeze somewhere in the world, and this gives insight into the persistency of life itself.

An old man once told me that life is both more and less than we can possibly imagine. We carry out our existence, seemingly with a plethora of complications. Thinking, analyzing, judging, and toiling our minds away. We create an identity for ourselves, a mass of labels and materialistic stickers, and decide we are only going to view the world through a biased lens. We are preconditioned from childhood with a sense of “self” that allows us to judge situations and people on a personal level, and react in the best means of promoting self-preservation. This way of going about life can be useful as a tool, but not as the perfect means of understanding reality.

Sometimes, humans are capable of losing touch with the fundamental aspects of life. Sometimes, we fail to grasp the true essence of what it means to be living, breathing, and experiencing the awe of simple existence. Remember, we are all embodiments of impermanence, such as the leaves the fly together in a gust of wind. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on the time we are alive and forget that the universe still persists after we are long gone. Death before death is the true purpose of our existence. To abolish our simple and flawed perception of a personal life, and to realize the much greater picture is the ultimate goal.

In a sense, the Eastern sages were correct; we are all interconnected, we are One. Even if humanity is not linked by some cosmic, mystical force, we are linked by the everyday moments of life.  Everything we do and everything we say has an impact on countless individuals around us. Our words and actions have an altering effect on the proceedings to come, and our future can change drastically because of it. This broader outlook of cause and effect relationships is vital if we are to transcend egotism and experience reality in its true, unfiltered state.

Our goal in life is to live with integrity. To walk, talk, breathe, and create in utter honesty of our true being. Understanding the greater relationships in life allow one to be true to themselves, and the people they care about. We all have a greater man inside, and he has never abandoned us, regardless of the insanity we are capable of. This man is not your identity, but your state of being, for identity is an exterior construct. Through this state, we are capable of reveling in the awe of riding the wind. We are capable of appreciating the unsolved mysteries of the universe and knowing what true love really means. My final question: have you found YOUR greater man?