Published Aug 30, 12 PM
By Louis Cortese
It’s hard for me to trust my mind, deeply conditioned as it is, in the theories it spawns regarding the big existential questions.
How do I know that what my mind conceives is not just its own fabrications, constructed exclusively from its own imagination? It could be pure fiction, just simply made up.
If the intent is to perceive the truth, that which is, then it should be unadulterated and not distorted by pre-conceived interpretations. I don’t trust my mind not to infuse its conclusions with its many biases that have built up through these years.
I suppose could take the alternate route and bypass my mind to seek the truth using other people’s approaches. There are no lack of teachings, insights, seminars, techniques, books, even whole institutions dedicated to disseminating the truth. Everywhere you turn, there are putative representations of the truth. You can spend your lifetime immersing deeply into scripture to find your way to it. Alternatively, you need only make a declaration of faith and you will be granted truth, as though it be a gift.
There are practices, techniques and exercises galore that promise the reward of truth, if done diligently.
The latest hot proselytization is one that admonishes us to be in the present moment. Everywhere we turn these days we are told to be present or to be in the moment. Turn your attention to the now, away from the regrets of the past and the anxiety of the future, and the truth of the universe can be found in this instant.
But truth be told, looking for the truth by following others’ guidelines is also problematic for me. If the truth is one, how can there be so many extremely diverse ways to it? Some people will tell you that there are many paths to the one truth. That doesn’t sit well with me. If I’m trying to get somewhere and one guy tells me to go north and another guy tells me to go south, one of them has got to be wrong… or possibly both.
So let’s recap. I’m looking for the truth.
I can’t trust my own mind in taking me there because I can’t tell when it’s making shit up or actually having a genuine profound insight. I can’t trust what others are telling me either, because their versions of the truth are so widely different. And it’s highly improbable that out of all those different paths, there is only one that will actually lead to the truth. If there one was the real McCoy, it would stand the test of time and everyone would eventually congregate to it. It sounds to me—just as I’m afraid that my own mind is capable of making shit up—all these other paths proposed by other people are just conjured up by their own minds too.
So I’ve kind of concluded that it’s a waste of money to pay hundreds of dollars to attend that seminar conducted by that one particularly esteemed Indian guru, speaking impeccable English with an Indian accent, now nicely assimilated into the American capitalistic system.
He promises to put me on the path to the truth for a price. This is a sore point I have with some of those that claim to know the truth. If you have that most sacred insight, that which the human race throughout its existence has been searching for, would you charge people to receive it? Would you start an organization that markets your services to bestow the truth only to those who can pay for it? Would you charge thousands of dollars for teacher trainings to train people to teach other people how to find the truth? Would you have large corporate headquarters, with economic business plans, advertising campaigns, development of diverse revenue streams from books, teacher trainings, seminars, workshops, etc.? But people line up and will pay lots of money to such organizations thinking the truth will be revealed to them.
I will continue to practice yoga, but I’m not buying into the idea that it’s the yoke that will bind me to the truth. As far as the institutionalized religion thing, I gave that up a long time ago. To me, that’s the one that is most obviously not leading anywhere near to the truth. Kabbalah? Shmabalah! Zen? It has possibilities because of its emphasis on suchness, which is another word for truth, but form gets in the way. The meditation path seemed promising for a while, but after many years of doing it, I feel like Woody Allen feels about his lifetime of sitting in therapy. He wants his money back.
One path that sort of still intrigues me is the “no path” approach.
But I find myself going in circles on that one. The idea: the truth lies beyond the realm of the known, which is where we all reside. So if we choose to take a path to find the truth, it will be constricted to within the boundaries of the known, and therefore renders us unable to reach the unknown. So we should reject all paths as projections of the known destined to keep us spinning in vainness. But if I reject all paths, how will I get to the truth?
This all assumes there is even something considered to be the truth. Maybe the whole idea that it exists at all as an absolute, independent presence, located out there somewhere, to which there is or there isn’t a specific path, could be an object of our imagination as well. If the truth is in the unknown and we only know the known, how is that we know it exists, if it is unknown? It’s enough to drive you crazy. That may be my next move.
About Louis Cortese
Lou , in his life, has been a precocious young boy in an anachronistic town in the mountains of Sicily, an immigrant at the age of 8 arriving by way of an ocean liner to the shores of the west side of Manhattan, a guido from the Bronx, a hippy, a Zen Buddhist, a businessman, a yogi and a conventional family man with three sons and two grandchildren, among other things, none of which describes his true self and all of which in the aggregate do not give a full account of him. If his story is not he, then what is? He’s still looking. Lou’s musings can be followed on his blog http://louiebop.tumblr.com/