The Truth has set me Free

I have often wondered what is the meaning of the following bible verse:

John 8:32: and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (ESV)

It seemed a very strange preposition. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free. If truth were a physical object, like a sword, I would have thought, it means, learn using the sword, and it will set you free. However, I thought, truth is just an abstract concept of mind. It has nothing to do with physical reality. So, it never did really register into my mind like it should. However, after I wrote about freedom here, I’ve been thinking of the subject more and more. The more I thought about it, the more I became amazed at it, for it became ever more stranger, it took a familiar and yet outlandish shape in my mind. And now, I feel inclined to express into words what is inexpressible.

Before we go on,I want to make it clear that, I won’t be discussing what truth exactly is because pretty much everybody understands it and it is so vast a subject that if I were to write about it, it would contain a large number of things that are obvious and the things that are not so obvious will most probably elude me. So, I am going to assume here that everybody knows the nature and concept of truth.

The Search

Now, let us begin. People everywhere regard truth very highly. Winston Churchill said that in wartime, it is so precious that it should be guarded with bodyguard of lies. That is certainly true, however, it shows how precious the truth is. Because it is regarded so very highly, men everywhere seek it. All the fields of human knowledge are trying to get to the truth. However, there are some basic questions for which everyone needs an answer for.

Everybody does not need to know if the earth revolves around the sun or the moon. But everyone needs to answer a question that has haunted humanity over the centuries more than any other question. It is also the question, by which the fate of humanity will be decided. The question is, what does it mean to be human? Great thinkers of the time gone by has tried to answer the question in different way. But these different theories and philosophies have only added more grass in the haystack and done very little to point men to the needle of truth. So, the question is still burning with the same intensity as ever. But that’s apparent, considering the nature of the question.

Because, the question is about life itself. It’s not about something outside of us and not even inside of us. It’s about us. Since its about us, every one of us asks the question. Everyone goes on to look for the needle in the haystack. After some searching, some say, there is no needle, others mistake a piece of grass for a needle, some get so fascinated with the grass they forget altogether about the needle, and very few find it. However, everybody searches for it.

The Journey

Great many people has compared life with a journey. Let me compare the search for truth with a journey. Because, I think, in some sense, a life is a search for truth. I think humankind once had the truth but lost it, and thus, now we search for what we once had, the thing most precious to us. There is one another way in which the search for truth resembles a journey. That is the swift beauty of it’s end. At least it seems that way to me. Because, I am often caught by the sudden surprise of it’s end and in this sudden and sweet surprise, I sometimes behold the grand photograph of the whole and suddenly realize that the whole is even more beautiful than it’s parts. For, when a journey is not over, one can not look at the whole for the sole reason of it not being whole. But when it’s over, it somehow becomes grander.

Truth also has a similar characteristic. Because for truth to be really true, it must be complete. For, if truth is not complete, it has certain gaps in it’s volume where lies can creep in. And the greatest of lies are that which contain half truths. The greater the ratio of truth:lie in any claim, the greater is it’s potential to devastate it’s believer. That is exactly why truth must be complete. Half truths are easy to twist for one’s pleasure. Twisted truths lead to a twisted end. That is why when a man searches for truth, he must find the whole truth, because if it’s not the whole truth, like the journey, he can not have the pleasure of appreciating the whole picture. For the picture is still being drawn. What’s more, if such a half drawn picture is corrupted by a lie, then instead of illuminating the mind it will only darken the conscious.

And such is the common knowledge of men. That’s why they search for the whole truth. However, the search is indeed difficult. For everyone has a say in it. For their own self, everybody goes on looking for it, and thus, everybody, whatever they found tell it to others. Which makes it almost impossible to go on searching for it. For, one man says go to the left, other, says right. And In this bewilderment I once found myself. Scaling through the highs and lows of human understanding, I looked for truth, which I thought was unperceivable.

The Chains

As I was searching for truth, frantically looking about, trying to catch the thing at the very first glace of it, which I thought to be non material. And suddenly, I realized, that all the while, when I was running around everywhere, in every direction, looking for truth, I was actually bound with chains that I dragged everywhere I went. Then, even stranger thing happened, for it dawned on me that when I was looking I had my eyes closed, when I ran, I didn’t move an inch, the places to which I dragged the chains were actually nowhere. The chains were only the lingering thoughts that haunted me. For, I was pacing the labyrinthine ways of my own mind and to my dismay, I hadn’t found the truth.

I continued on my search for truth. Dragging the chains up the mountains and through the valleys. But it seemed like everyday, there was a new link added into the chains. Even stranger was the mild suggestion that the chains were interlocking, one with other. Nevertheless, I continued. Until one day, when the burden of chains had became so heavy that I wasn’t able to move on, I stopped and looked around. I was petrified. For, it wasn’t the weight of the chains that were stopping me from moving on, rather, chains were all around me and I was trapped in my own thoughts like a butterfly in a spider’s web. I tried to figure out a way out of the mess, but it only trapped me further. For indeed, these were the chains of thought. For a moment, I wished that these were iron chains. Because then, it would be easier to get out.

The Truth

There in my darkest hour, I understood what the bible meant. “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. I had found out that the chains of thought were much more ravaging than their physical counterpart. I had also came to the conclusion that if only I had truth, I can break all the chains that rendered me paralyzed. Then, in my heart, I desired for truth more than anything else. I prayed and asked for the truth.

Then, the strangest thing happened. Suddenly, the darkness around me was running away like a frightened deer, away from the predator. I raised my head, and I saw a strange figure coming towards me. In shape, he resembled a man. Yet, something about him told me that he was more than a man. There was eternal calm on his face that gave my troubled heart peace. Yet, the fierceness in his eyes pierced me with one glance. Slowly and steadily, with an unhurried walk, he was coming towards me. Just as I was going to ask him, “Who are you?”, I suddenly realized that with every step he took, the chains that I had tried so hard to get out of, were falling away, one by one hurriedly, as if they were running away, trying to hide in the darkness, away from this strange figure. He came near me and said, “I am Truth”.

Oh, and as I struggle to express in words which is inexpressible, I am reminded of that fateful night, when I was liberated from the chains that I had so willingly bound myself with. Now that I try to comprehend the miracle in my life, I am dumbfounded by the sheer asymmetry of my actions that night. For, on the night that I was freed, and when unspeakable joy had filled my heart, it made perfect sense that I should cry. When I thought that I was in the darkest phase in my life, looking around trying to make sense of my world, he came into my world and that was enough. For his light illuminated every dark corner of my labyrinthine mind. Now everything made sense, just because he was with me.

How can I ever aptly describe the Truth. For the truth had turned out to be everything that I thought it was not. I thought it to be an abstract concept of mind. He turned out to be the desire of my heart. I thought it to be non material, yet with open arms he gave me a hug. I thought it to be a merciless, brute fact, unsympathetic towards the people who searched for it so willingly, yet, I found even he had a heart. So, as I end this essay, I am again reminded of him about whom this essay is. With gentle tone, he is calling me, and I run to his embrace.


Commentary

Oh yes! I’m gonna give commentary to the essay that I have written! Partly because, I wanted to try out a different writing style, and because it is new, and a bit poetic, you might miss the one of the points that I want to make here and partly because I want to.

So, here we go:

The Search:

I have pictured the search for truth as searching a needle in a haystack. The first two paragraphs are obvious, because they are written in plain language. However, in the last paragraph I have given 4 different cases. Let me explain what I mean by each one.

  1. The people who say that there is no needle are those who say that there is no ultimate or objective truth. However, there is no truth out there.
  2. The people who mistake a piece of grass for a needle is, those who have done exactly that. They have taken a different philosophy of life then the one which is really true.
  3. The people who are fascinated with the grass are those who are lost in the world. They can be classified as hedonists.
  4. Fourth, those who really find the truth.

The Journey:

First I have compared a journey with the truth. There weren’t very many things are going on in the back of mind when I wrote that. The similarities are pretty obvious. However, there is one thing that I haven’t wrote there literally, but if you really think about it and dwell on it, you will grasp it. Coupling the journey section with the truth section makes it even more obvious. Nevertheless, if you can’t come to the conclusion on your own, I’ll say it here.

The whole truth has a great power. It is that before it, no lie can stand. In half truth, a lie can even disguise as truth. However, that can not happen when you have the whole truth. It’s authority is absolute and it’s abilities infinite.

The Chains:

First, my original conception was that the truth was non material, and yet I was trying to catch it. The chains are my thoughts, as it is stated in the essay, and they are accumulating. Because, all of them are half truths. Because they are half truths, I can not throw them away because the thought that I throw away may be the original truth. However, I also can not eliminate those other than the original truth because, I don’t have the original truth whole. And thus, it looks same as any other.

Then, the sudden realization that I’m not moving an inch when I’m running. This is the core point of this essay. For when there are unanswered questions in your mind you can not really focus on anything else. At least, I can not. Because you can not focus on anything, you can not do anything effectively. So, when you are in confusion or in depression trying to make sense of the world around you, all your physical activities also become constrained. That’s what I meant when I said, I wished that they were iron chains. Because, iron chains only bond the body, they leave the mind to wander anywhere it wishes. However, the chains of thought bind both.

The Truth:

The last section I think speaks for itself. So, I wouldn’t want to say anything that degrades the section from the level it is at. Seems to me, that anything I say will do exactly that. So, instead of saying anything here, I’d suggest that you read it again!

Supercharge Gnus with Yahoo! pipes

For a couple of months now, I am using emacs exclusively for a lot of things. Pretty much everything except web browsing. For it, I use luakit. I use emacs for coding, blogging, note taking, file system management, emails, rss feeds, todo management… pretty much 80% of my computer time is spent inside emacs.

However, there was a problem. I use gnus for email and rss feeds. Problem was, I have about 10-15 rss feeds and when I want to check them, I start gnus. However, because of the number of the feeds it would take a lot of time for gnus to connect to each server and update the feed list. So, I thought there should be some way to reduce this time. But I wasn’t able to think of something for some time. I tried searching emacs wiki for some improvements but couldn’t find any…

Then, I remembered something that I tried about 2-3 years ago. I don’t remember exactly when but it was good. However then, I didn’t have any use of it. But in my current situation, it could be absolutely valuable. It is Yahoo! pipes. I took all my feeds and created four pipes to gather all those rss feeds. So, now, instead of connecting to several servers for feeds, gnus only have to connect to a yahoo server and fetch four rss feeds for updates. It has reduced the start up time of gnus has been greatly reduced.

Also, by doing this, all my feeds will be stored somewhere safe and I won’t have to jumble opml files from now on. Also, when I need to add a feed, I will just add it to the pipe. No need to add/remove feeds from gnus. It will be handled automagically.

If you don’t know about it, check it out. Yahoo pipes can do a lot of things other than this. In fact, it is a very simplistic example of what it’s capable of… Anyways, if you want to check out my pipes, go here.

A Life of Worship

Many-a-times I have asked myself this question. What does it mean to worship. I did a quick lookup in a dictionary and in it, to describe what is worship, words like love, admiration and devotion are used. All of these can are very interesting. If you have read my previous posts, you might know my semantic analysis of the different aspects of the subject matter and describing it’s inner working. However, I feel as if I were to do the same to this topic, I wouldn’t be doing justice to it. Such a discussion seems distant from the heart of the matter of worship to me. It would be like saying “I’m having a chemical reaction with you” when you meant, “I love you”. So, in this essay, I would like to talk about things I have learned about worship and going to write down my thoughts as they come to me. I’m not going to review and structure it as I’ve done for my previous posts. There will be no editing, to state the politically correct position. So, there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

In the first paragraph I mentioned three different aspects of worship. However all of them are interconnected. All of us understand that all too well. So, I’d rather not go into how they are interconnected. Breaking it down in logical steps, to me, seems illogical. But before I begin this, the first question I’d like to ask is, worship who?

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (ESV)

In regards of this article, I’m talking about worshiping God. Now, in the verse that I just quoted, it is said whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. For most part of this article, I’d be dealing with this verse and what it means.

How can we worship God in “whatever we do”? First and foremost, we should obey his commandments. He is not glorified when we sin. Sining is not an act of worship. We do not need to talk about it further.

So what exactly does Paul mean by “whatever we do”? I think he means exactly that. That raises the question, how? How can I do my job for the glory of God? How can I program for the glory of God? The only way I can think of is this: whatever you do, do it for God. I mean, whatever you do, do it as if God had come down to tell you what exactly is it that you need to do(in fact, that did happen). And after you have finished your task he is going to come and evaluate your work. Do it like that. If I were to give my example, I’d say, God has told me to create a website for a certain business and he’s going to check it once I’m done. So, when I’m working on the website, I’m not thinking about the money but I’m thinking about what’s the best way to create this website. I’d like to give my best work to God. So, once you become a christian, you don’t work for your boss, but you work for God. I think that’s what Paul meant.

Another aspect of worship is how we use the gifts God has given to us. God has wired each of us differently. Each of us to play a different task in the church and in this world. For that, he has given us certain talents. These are his gifts to us. If a friend gives you a gift, for example, a table-clock, what would you do with it. Would you throw it away? Or would you put it on your table and use it. If you throw it away right before your friend’s eyes, what will it do for your relationship with him? (God is always watching what you do with the gifts he has given to you). If you keep the table clock on your table and the next time your friend comes and sees you using that table clock as it should be used, he will be delighted. However, if you are using the clock as a paper weight, he will be somewhat offended. In the same way, the gifts that God has given you are to be used in the right way. When we use it the way that they are meant to be used, he is pleased. It’s an act of worship. However if you waste it, you are hurting the relationship between him and you. So, using these gifts in a proper way is also an act of worship.

So when you begin to work with such a mindset, you will start doing your best at everything you do, because you are no longer working for a company or a person but God himself. So, your work quality will improve dramatically. I’ve seen this happen in my life. However, because your work quality improves, sooner or later you will get a promotion or at least a raise. That’s where I think a dangerous trap lie. To keep yourself safe from this trap, you need to cultivate a certain kind of attitude. Let me describe all the possible attitudes with regards of an action or activity.

There are basically 4 kinds of people regards to an activity or action

  1. People who don’t like to do it and don’t do it
  2. People who like to do it but don’t do it
  3. People who don’t like to do it but do it
  4. People who like to do it and do it.

Without getting into the details about the other 3 kinds of people, let me tell you which kind we want to be. We want to be the last one. Those who worship God because they love to do it. They enjoy it. Now, for the purpose of this discussion I must shed some light on the motives of the kind of person that do things that they don’t like. The third kind.

These people do things for the reward of doing these things. Most commonly, for money. These people loathe their jobs but just because in the end it gives them something that they like/need, they do it. Now, I’m not going to make any judgment of if it is right or wrong. It’s not my place to say it. However, the point I’m making here is that getting material blessings should not be our motive for worshiping God.

Now, back to my point of enjoying worship. There is nothing wrong in enjoying worship. In fact, when you praise a youngster for getting good marks in his/her examination, you also feel a feint spark of happiness if not more. Somebody has said that without praise or worship, joy can not be complete. So, then isn’t enjoying worship the same as praising God for our enjoyment? No. In fact, I’d say such a thing is not even possible. It is more plausible to praise yourself for enjoyment than praising God for enjoyment. However, it’s besides the point. The main question I’m getting at is this: Why do we need to be the fourth kind of people and what’s wrong with the third kind?

The third kind of people, people who praise God for material blessings, for one will be disappointed. And second, their praise is not worship at all. It’s mere flattery. It is not only wrong but in fact, it’s the worst kind of heresy. Thinking you can fool God. There is a difference between flattery and worship.

Now, that we’ve seen one major pitfall, I’d like to give my thoughts a new direction. What is the outcome of this life of worship?

Matthew 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (ESV)

I think that human thoughts and imagination have the greatest potential for fragmentation. I find my thoughts scattered all around. If I were to ask write down every single thought I’ve had in my life, it will be a cohesive volume. However, when I ask myself the question that out of that massive volume, what percentage would be about and for Jesus? I’m not proud to say it, but, very little. That needs to change. A few days ago, I came across a quote…

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

I agree with that. So, if we really want to live a life of worship, it doesn’t start with actions. It must start with our thoughts. Because, an action can have any number of different motives. However, when our thoughts are not scattered, but gathered in Jesus, and our motives realigned for the glory of God, only then it is possible to do everything for the glory of God. And, only that life can be called, “A life of worship”.