To be able to speak about the truth of something we will have to see and know the whole of it and then intentionally chose a part of that whole to express. But this for sure we know: we cannot see nor know the total, the whole. I mean, what do we really know about anything? What do we know about life? What do we know about ourselves? What do we know about our planet, our galaxy or the universe? We can only know that we don’t know. And if you are not sure of how much we don’t know, just watch this video. This is one of my favorites, but there are many others. You can just type something like ‘the size of the universe’ in YouTube and right away you will realize how little we know, it is very simple. (You should watch this kind of video at least once a month as a reminder.)
The mind is like a machine, a very amazing machine. And a thought is a product of that machine. For a thought to appear, many many pieces have to meet at one particular point in time. It is like a puzzle the mind puts together depending on what it knows. And that is all a thought is: a conclusion the mind comes to out of the knowledge that it has.
But if we are aware that we really do not know the whole, then it becomes very clear that no thought that appears is true, but that it is only, at its best, partially true.
But because most of the time we are not aware that we don’t know, then instead of being partially true, most of our thoughts are closer to lies. Not because we are trying to tell a lie, but because when we say something we believe is true without actually knowing the whole then it becomes a lie. Not an intentional lie, but a lie nonetheless.
We live our lives as if we knew everything, and because of this belief we create an enormous amount of suffering, for ourselves, other people and the world.
I find it very important to understand that no thought is—nor can be—true. But how can we live with this understanding? We depend on our thoughts, we need them; without our thoughts, how can we have a normal life? Knowing that our thoughts cannot be completely true does make our life a little bit more difficult, but being aware of our ignorance will help us think twice or three times or five times before we actually take our thoughts very seriously.
To look at one’s own mind and to see that none of the thoughts are actually true is a very difficult thing to do, accept and understand. Who wants to start checking every thought that appears in one’s head? Most people believe that whatever they think IS the truth. To even touch this understanding of the untruthfulness of our thoughts is very rare and most people can’t bare it. What this understanding comes down to is that one cannot take oneself so seriously any more. I mean, how seriously can one take oneself if one knows that one actually does not know?
There is something that I suspected since I was very little: somehow I always ‘felt’ that things were connected, that somewhere there was a unifying factor that put a person, a tree, a planet and a universe as one and the same thing… all the evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. Many years later, and after lots of search and study and investigation, I came to the understanding that what we perceive as multiplicity is actually a unity; that the essence of life is that everything is connected, even though we don’t feel it with our senses.
How do we experience the world? We do it through our five senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. Everything we know about what is out there—and in here—we know because of these five senses… but that is all. Imagine if we had a sixth sense… or a seventh, or a tenth. There are many animals that have senses we don’t have and they perceive the world in a very different way than us, they see vibrations of colors or sounds we neither see nor hear. We don’t really know what is out there, we only know what we can perceive with our senses. But our senses are very very limited. For example, look around at a wall or the floor. Do you see it and perceive it as hard? Well, it is not. What we see and perceive as hard is actually 99.999999999314% empty space, but because of the way our senses perceive, we see matter as something hard. But it is not true; in reality it is mostly empty space.
Having even a slight understanding (or trust) that the separation we see is only an illusion, and that what we see as separate is actually a unity*, one principle can help us decide about our thoughts: any thought that comes closer to that sense of unity is more true and any thought that gets away from the sense of unity is less true.
Any thought that comes closer in any way to a sense of love, compassion, understanding, empathy, acceptance, harmony, hopefulness, joy, patience, respect, serenity, or many others happens to be closer to truth. And any thought that goes away from that sense of unity, that goes into hatred, negativity, selfishness, jealousy, feeling of lack, intolerance, insensitivity, cruelty, dishonesty, rigidity, or many others, is further away from truth.
No matter how loving a thought may be, it cannot be completely true, but at least we have a little measurement that can guide us in life.
And this is pretty much everything we can say about our thoughts.
Really, what do we know for sure?
There is something very powerful about knowing and understanding that we don’t know. It opens up an immense space of possibilities. And of course, it helps us relate to the world, other people or ourselves in a completely different way.
Everything that happens creates a story in our minds. Actually our whole connection to life is only a story. We are creating stories about everything all the time. Whatever thought we have about anything is only a story. Somebody says something to me that I don’t like, for example, and I create a story out of that: the person said what he said because of this or that, because he is or is not, because I am or I am not… But really, how can we know the whole story—the truth—of why that person said what he said? Or why that person did what he did? Or why what happened happened the way it did? One cannot.
I would very strongly recommend starting checking our stories.
Of course the problem is that our whole life is based on stories. So basically we need to check our whole life, or better said, our whole IDEA of our life: my friend did this to me because…; my mother, my husband, my son, my ex did this or that to me because…; I did that to them because…; all of these are stories. ‘Because’ is the start the story.
Many of us are very attached to our stories since it is the stories that make our life. And because we are so attached to them, it is very difficult to let go of them, or even challenge them.
But when we are able to understand that no thought—no story—is telling the whole truth, then it really becomes possible.
Letting go of our stories is a doorway to freedom.
* Without the understanding of unity (or without trusting that everything is connected), then, in my opinion, one has no compass at all. Everything can, and will be doubted, forever. But with this understanding, the whole panorama changes. We don’t know anything, but we have a direction to go.
How to arrive to this understanding is what I cannot really explain. In my case it was a gut feeling that created a search, which in time and with much effort and help lead into a recognition. One way to call that search is the spiritual search. Without the ‘spiritual’ element (or whatever else we want to call it), nothing else makes sense.