[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  ]

There is no getting away from it; the question, “What is truth? or What is the truth?” never goes away if one insists on keeping one’s mind open to “the elements of existentialism” for existence is truth but how many faces does it have? How many names? What aspects do I place upon my own existence, my place in what I used to think of as space and time and which now encompasses infinity and eternity?

The following is a quote from “Lord of Light” by Roger Zelazny. He talks about the importance of words and truth. Coincidentally I was also reading from Charles deLint today and first, here’s a short quote from a short story titled, “Birds.”

“When her head is full of birds, anything is possible. She can understand the slow language of trees, the song of running water, the whispering gossip of the wind. The conversation of the birds fills her until she doesn’t even think to remember what it was like before she could understand them. But sooner or later, the birds go away, one by one, find new nests, new places to fly. It’s not that they tire of her; it’s simply not in their nature to tarry for too long.

But she misses them. Misses their company, the flutter of wings inside her head and their trilling conversations. Misses the possibilities. The magic.

To call them back she has to approach them as a bride. Dressed in white, with something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue. And a word. A new word, from another’s dream. A word that has never been heard before.” (Moonlight and Vines – Birds, by Charles deLint)
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“Names are not important,” he said. “To speak is to name names, but to speak is not important. A thing happens once that has never happened before. Seeing it, a man looks upon reality. He cannot tell others what he has seen. Others wish to know, however, so they question him saying, ‘What is it like, this thing you have seen?’ So he tries to tell them. Perhaps he has seen the very first fire in the world. He tells them, ‘It is red, like a poppy, but through it dance other colors. It has no form, like water, flowing everywhere. It is warm, like the sun of summer, only warmer. It exists for a time upon a piece of wood, and then the wood is gone, as though it were eaten, leaving behind that which is black and can be sifted like sand. When the wood is gone, it too is gone.’ Therefore, the hearers must think reality is like a poppy, like water, like the sun, like that which eats and excretes. They think it is like to anything that they are told it is like by the man who has known it. But they have not looked upon fire. They cannot really know it. They can only know of it. But fire comes again into the world, many times. More men look upon fire. After a time, fire is as common as grass and clouds and the air they breathe. They see that, while it is like a poppy, it is not a poppy, while it is like water, it is not water, while it is like the sun, it is not the sun, and while it is like that which eats and passes wastes, it is not that which eats and passes wastes, but something different from each of these apart or all of these together. So they look upon this new thing and they make a new word to call it. They call it ‘fire.’

“If they come upon one who still has not seen it and they speak to him of fire, he does not know what they mean. So they, in turn, fall back upon telling him what fire is like. As they do so, they know from their own experience that what they are telling him is not the truth, but only a part of it. They know that this man will never know reality from their words, though all the words in the world are theirs to use. He must look upon the fire, smell of it, warm his hands by it, stare into its heart, or remain forever ignorant. Therefore, ‘fire’ does not matter, ‘earth’ and ‘air’ and ‘water’ do not matter. ‘I’ do not matter. No word matters. But man forgets reality and remembers words. The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him. He looks upon the great transformations of the world, but he does not see them as they were seen when man looked upon reality for the first time. Their names come to his lips and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming. The thing that has never happened before is still happening. It is still a miracle. The great burning blossom squats, flowing, upon the limb of the world, excreting the ash of the world, and being none of these things I have named and at the same time all of them, and this is reality—the Nameless.

“Therefore, I charge you—forget the names you bear, forget the words I speak as soon as they are uttered. Look, rather, upon the Nameless within yourselves, which arises as I address it. It hearkens not to my words, but to the reality within me, of which it is part. This is the atman, which hears me rather than my words. All else is unreal. To define is to lose. The essence of all things is the Nameless. The Nameless is unknowable, mightier even than Brahma. Things pass, but the essence remains. You sit, therefore, in the midst of a dream.” (from Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny)

We live in a fractured reality we cobble from dreams we were forced to dream using the terribly inadequate and confusing tools of words of many meanings from languages we dragged off with us from the Babel diaspora – well, that’s one way to put it. The writer is right though, we have become addicted to words and even the new words we now use are just twistings of the old ones. Lazy abbreviations that litter and pollute the cell phone and web world. Increasingly meaningless tripe oozing from lazy and dying brains. OMG! LOL! WTF, R U there?…

It was claimed once upon a time that a picture is worth a thousand words. If we look at the internet clogged with discordant images, at TV, at bill boards and book covers we know that to be a lie. Book covers hardly ever depict what’s between the pages. The rest is chaos in spades, overload of colors and shapes that become essentially mirages blending into each other until one word describes the entire imagery: meaninglessness, that describing much of modern existence.

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The River has many Moods – image by Sha’Tara, September, 2020

 

 

5 thoughts on “For the umpteenth time – What is Truth, or the Truth?

  1. Phil Huston

    If you believe the Navajo, among others, truth is nature. “Harmony” or “walking in beauty.” Human condition truth is a moving target. What we know of truth changes with experience and none of it is “truth” merely justified existence. I quit worrying about it. All will be revealed or I will become worm food. Next.

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  2. Sha'Tara Post author

    Bull’s eye. In that book I quoted from he says truth is beauty and beauty is found in the nameless.Our curse is the “addiction” to label everything. It began with bored Adam in Eden going around naming everything. In the naming arises the possessive spirit and that is the end of truth. Truth is observing without judgment, as you say: nature.Thanks Phil.

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  3. Hyperion

    Ahhh, the passing of waste. The truth of the matter isn’t revealed until the matter is passed. Then, we instinctively move on, quickly sometimes. If your truth were different than mine, would it mean that one had to be wrong or could no one be right? I have learned recently that the truth means nothing to anyone. What is more important is a lie we can change at will to support any truth we would like to shove up someone else’s opposite truth. I think if we want a truth, we should smear ourselves in Springbok blood and walk naked among Hyenas. We’ll learn a valuable lesson about our truth versus nature’s truth.

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      I kinda like your response. Very “to the point.” I’m a nature person, having been raised in the wilds of northern Alberta and allowed much leeway as to my lone wanderings as a kid – as long as my chores were done! On horseback or on foot, with or without the dog, .22 rifle and almost always alone. That’s when a growing, expanding, questing mind leans to the earth, listening, smelling, tasting, looking. Book learning had its place (and I loved it because I could enter alternative lives, places with it) but the real learning is done with the body upon the earth. Being able to sense/smell changing weather, every smell upon every gust of wind meant something, every rustling meant something. My heart beat in sync with the heartbeat of nature and that is truth, indeed. There is no truth in words, it’s simply not possible. Words are so terribly overrated, given quasi-divine power to determine the course of our lives and when we fall for that we end up believing liars, pure and simple. If we trust in our own words we end up believing our own lies. As Phil puts it, “If you believe the Navajo, among others, truth is nature. “Harmony” or “walking in beauty.” It took me decades, and the restrictive, prison-like lifestyle of small city life to understand, by looking back, how only in nature can harmony be experienced; how one can walk in beauty. I was out across the River in the kayak today, a clear, hot, dry day but surrounded by cool waters, falling leaves, soft sand. Spent the day naked, focusing on the feel of hot sand on soles, sun on dark brown skin, water flowing over my body when swimming, feeling every square inch of skin in relation to surrounding wilderness. Deer, coyote, beaver, great blue heron and geese tracks crisscrossed the sand bars. A flock of pipits flitted through marsh grass and willows, their soft “twit” “twit” the only sounds. That was truth and that was walking in beauty. Nothing man-thought or man-made could hold a candle to this…

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      1. Hyperion

        Beautifully written Sha’tara. In fact, it was like opening a novel to a random page and instantly falling into the story, the beginning or end wasn’t necessary to live enthralled in the scene so exquisitely painted. Opportunities of a like nature are limited for me now, but not too much longer will I have to wait. I totally agree. I can remember going so long without talking to another human, that I wondered if I could speak properly if called upon to do so. Being in nature is a cacophony of silence to the ear tuned only to talking heads and the vibrations of city life. Once we get our feral ears back we realize the sounds of nature are a symphony that soothes the senses and brings them back to life. I think Canadians are blessed to have such an expansive and majestical wilderness.

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