No matter what you think the truth is, and no matter what you think knowing the truth amounts to, here’s something that you can’t get around…
If you know the truth because others convinced you that it’s the truth, (“truth” meaning, simply: what you believe is true, whatever that might be,) your knowledge can also be undone by others. If the only reason you believe it’s the truth is that someone led you to believe it, they can likewise lead you away from believing it. (I’ve seen this happen first-hand in the pseudo-cultic group I used to be involved with. The founders must be turning over in their graves at how their work has been turned over on its head, lol.)
So, maybe you were led to truth, or maybe it was fiction, or maybe you got led away from truth or fiction. If all you’ve got for it is the word of others, no matter how many there are or how authoritative they might be, you don’t know what happened, whether you were led to or away from what, so in fact you don’t really know much at all.
If you try to know the truth in a way that makes you independent, two things will happen:
- Those who want to lead you will warn against it, that you’re making a mistake, or even that you’ll go crazy. If you persist, they’ll eventually treat you as if you’re dangerous or even evil.
- You will in fact go crazy unless you do one of two other things:
- Give up and go back to what truth-leaders say.
- Cut your attachment to being led.
Cutting your attachment to being led feels like cutting your tether to sanity and reality. It also feels like you’re cutting your attachment to people and threatening your relationships with them. Unfortunately, many of those same people will tell you that’s exactly what you’re doing, and prove it by withdrawing from you or even spurning you. But this detachment isn’t about the people or the relationships — it’s about your need to be led. And if you’re involved with people just to lead them or be led, and if all they want to do is lead or be led by you or someone else, then you live in a very objectified and tenuous world.
Besides, when you think about it, none of it makes sense, because other people do not reasonably constitute tethers to reality. Your own experience is the most important tether you have. Your relationships with other people (both real and virtual) don’t constitute those tethers, either, unless your grasp of truth rests primarily on hearsay, gossip, books, reality TV, listening to podcasts, and watching videos — with maybe some church sermons or self-help lectures thrown in for good measure. Without your own experience, you have no way to evaluate all that information.
Other people and our relationships to them are important ways of checking our experiential tether to reality and vetting it if we end up with questions or doubts, but they’re no substitute for relying on what we experienced, what it felt like, and what we concluded by thinking about it all. If we’re attached to others for more basic and self-centered reasons, like for example relying on them for personal validation and self-esteem, we’ve to that degree subordinated ourselves to them, which of course is why being led by them makes so much sense to us.
It seems strange that cutting our attachment to being led would be so hard and intimidating, but in fact no one really teaches us how to do it. Our parents might have informed us with talk about responsibility and coming of age, and they might have forced us into detaching from them, but telling us we need to swim and pushing us into the water isn’t the same as teaching us how to swim. I think more parents now are teaching their kids how to (as opposed to that they have to) think independently and be psychologically self-sufficient than parents did when I grew up or when I raised my children, but for the most part most kids continue to be taught about financial independence rather than psychological independence, if they get taught by anyone at all besides hard knocks of life. And almost no one teaches the step that follows detachment: reattachment.
Reattachment to what? Show me a textbook or theological treatise or devotional or personal development theory that even asks that question. The answer to that question is alternately: to everything and/or to anything. It really doesn’t matter as long as it’s our choice. Some would argue that we need to reattach to God, but that only begs another question: Who decides what “God” is? Bottom line, either you get there on your own or you really don’t get there at all. The ultimate judge is each one of us for ourselves. Even if we play the game of abdicating judgment to someone else, we always choose the judge, so we’re the ultimate judge of at least that. It boils down to reattaching to one thing alone: oneself — the very prospect that those in lead-or-be-led worlds claim will bring on derangement or sociopathy or psychopathy or all three.
In other words, in almost every major culture we know of, individual sovereignty is the pinnacle of the insanely absurd and evil.
Read some biographies. Those who altered culture and society and history in significant ways knew that individual sovereignty was the bomb. They were so sovereign that they pulled others into their orbits, got them spinning and moving in concert, created time-enduring works, and exemplified the ultimate capabilities of human beings both for good and for evil. They implicitly trusted themselves and their own agendas at fundamental, even primal and undeniable levels. When you choose to see things in only a certain way, most would call that “belief” or “faith”. When you cannot for the life of you see things any other way, we don’t talk about “faith” anymore — we just talk about what is. But that, I believe, is the faith (and make no mistake — it’s faith) that Jesus spoke of. And the sovereign know all about it.
The sovereign change the world, and they don’t ask permission. The dominion of heaven is a domain of kings and “royal priests” bent on the heavenly — sovereigns all. Here and now is where we learn how to be one. If you’re hoping you’ll magically know all of the sudden, one day over the rainbow, in a new age, after “enlightenment” or infusion of spiritual acumen or after some final transformation “when Jesus comes back,” in some far-off never-never land or cosmic plane of existence or heavenly realm, then you’ll probably be out of luck and won’t realize until it’s too late. What we’ll have there is what we brought there with us. For some, apparently, it won’t be much.
But if not, if this isn’t the classroom in which we learn more and more to live sovereignly, to overwhelmingly conquer here and now, (like Paul the apostle put it,) and if that knowledge, that skill, that consciousness will suddenly, mysteriously erupt only at a later point TBD regardless of what happens now, then what the hell are you whining about now and suffering for here? Why not just cut to the chase and get the free good stuff at the end of the rainbow road? What passive-aggressive malevolence in the universe inflicts misery and then rewards with ecstasy — strike that — rewards with ecstasy precisely because you put up with misery? I’ve known psychopaths who do just that.
“Ah, but you don’t understand,” the pseudo-wise say. “This is the way of things. This is the balance of reaping and sowing, of karma, of duty, of the Tao.”
Follow those connivers if you like.