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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The people who are fascinated with the grass are those who are lost in the world. They can be classified as hedonists.
- Fourth, those who really find the truth.
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.
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 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!