Truth – June 11 2020

Truth – June 11 2020

The question is: Why is truth contemporary though uttered five-thousand years ago? The answer is: Because it is Truth. Truth never gets old. Two plus two is four today as it was five-thousand years ago.

Swami Ranganathananda,

in his introduction to

The Message of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad


Nineteenth-century science was purely materialistic. Study was confined to what could be touched, weighed, seen, observed. With the advent of quantum physics, there was a change. On the quantum level, it was discovered that the act of observation itself affects that which is being observed. Science had dealt only with objective reality, and now it was seen that reality is actually subjective – that in order to understand ‘reality,’ we must understand the observer as well as the observed.


British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the first scientists to appreciate and embrace Einstein’s theory of relativity, in a BBC interview posed the question, “What is the truth about ourselves?”


“We may be inclined to various answers: We are a bit of a star gone wrong.” 


The stuff of which our planet was made is stardust, pulled from our sun by the near-approach of some other star millions of years ago. And from this same stuff we arose.


He then gave his second answer, as the question would have been understood via the materialistic science of the nineteenth-century: 


“We are complicated physical machinery – puppets that strut and talk and laugh and die as the hand of time turns the handle beneath.”


And then, finally, he said: 


“But let us remember that there is one elementary inescapable answer: We are that which asks the question.”


This is the science of the Upanishads, of Vedanta. To study that which asks the question. 


This is why we study Vedanta or any works that speak to the truth of our being. This is why we read things in the morning or evening, before or after meditation: to put something into our way of seeing the world that includes perhaps a different way of knowing ourselves. 


We have spent years, decades, seeing ourselves in terms of our job, bank account, love life, home, possessions, physical shape, intelligence, education, etc. We don’t need practice in this. We have the whole day to see how our portfolio has done, how our team has done, how our political party has done. What we need practice in is this looking within; this process of asking ‘who is the questioner? And can I find him/her now, in this moment?’ 


The more we ask this, the less we’re at the mercy of the world. 


The relative world is all movement and change. Our thoughts and feelings, too, are ever-changing. 


To define ourselves by any of this is chaos at best, insanity at worst. 


Instead, we might ask: What am I that never changes? What am I that is Truth?


Today I will read something that speaks to me of Truth. I will ask of myself what is Truth for me. I will ask one of my fellows what is Truth for them. I will ask of something bigger than myself–nature, God, wisdom of the ages–to point me in a direction I could not think of on my own for an answer.

Adele, Christmas, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Paris, France