Sunday, February 12, 2012
Is There One Truth?
This past week has gotten me thinking again about the eternal question of truth and whether or not there even is an absolute truth at all. I have explored this question, as I imagine many of us have, throughout my life and in a variety of contexts. One of my earliest searches was centered around spirituality and religion and I tried out a number of them. Eventually, I have decided that most religions have some beliefs that work for me and many that don't, and I have finally cobbled together my own blend of spirituality with heavy nods to Daoism and Buddhism and other eastern philosophies. Would I say that I had a claim on the absolute truth in this area? Most assuredly not! I know what works for me and what helps me through life, but I'd never presume to say that it would work, much less be the best option, for anyone else.
And even further back in my timeline, in another life when I was a physics major, I learned that good old Newtonian physics is fine for everyday life, but that in fact it has no bearing on reality when things get either very very small or very very large. Scientists are still looking for a unified theory of physics, but personally I am not sure that there is such a thing, and for me, it is enough that I can count on Newton in my every day activities.
Well, this past week I was hit once again by the fact that truth is hard if not impossible to come by. First there was the trip to the allergist in Seattle. The doctor has a good reputation and the clinic is the best in the area, and he did go through everything with me, but his conclusion was that I am only allergic to grass, that all the other allergy tests I had had previously, tests based on an analysis of my blood, were bogus, and that no food allergy would cause sinus congestion or headaches.
This information directly contradicts what my regular doctor had said and I was left confused. When I contacted my doctor's office I got a message saying that there are just "differences of opinion," which wasn't terribly helpful. I know that a large part of this is due to the differences between allopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine, but still, where does that leave me?
I decided that once again, this was a testing of my belief systems and it was up to me to play detective and figure out what works for me. If the allergist is correct, then there is no reason not to eat things like wheat, nuts, and bananas. So in what I hope is a reasonably sensible manner, I have added wheat back into my diet. As a vegan, this was the one that caused me the most difficulty, and the one I missed the most, so I now have a wonderful loaf of olive bread and soon also some couscous and Tofurky faux meats, and so far, I have had no change in symptoms and no difficulties and it sure does taste good! I am realizing that once again, there are no absolutes and that I will have to find my own path through the maze and see what works for me.
The other major event of my past week was a wonderful (if very brief) visit from my sister Jan. In the course of conversation we discussed some events in our family past and I realized very clearly that the beliefs of the individuals in our family determined their view of situations, their definitions of the realities of events. Each person had acted from good and loving motives, but each spin as it were on the situation was totally different, rather like eye witness accounts of an accident. We each saw what we "knew" to be true based on how we had set up our world.
When I was a lot younger, I was very sure that there had to be a right answer to everything. Now, after a lot of years of experience, I believe that the key to life is to stay open to possibilities, to realize that there probably isn't a single reality at all on anything, and that sometimes we need to readjust our beliefs, never an easy task, to accomodate new data or new ways of looking at things.
The older I get the harder time I have with change, and I don't think I am alone there. But at the same time, the older I get and the more I have seen, the more I realize that there are as many ways of looking at the world, as many realities, as there are people in it, that I have no monopoly on what is real or right, and that I need to be open to what others think, believe, and see as real, not only to treat them with respect, but also to stay open to learning something which might apply to me or help me navigate this complicated world of ours.
So I am going to conclude that for me there isn't a single truth or a single reality. I will just continue to ask the question, is this working for me. If it is, fine. If it isn't, then I need to try something else. I'd be really interested to see what you, my readers, think about the nature of truth and reality! Have a super day!