This I believe.
I believe in “Level of Truth”.
Due to a combination of our natural abilities, personal inclinations, and life experiences, we each have unique understanding of the world, and a unique understanding of our place in the world. It is this understanding that sets the range and scope of our spatial awareness and of our self awareness. In short, your worldview, your “Level of Truth”.
What got me started on thinking about “Level of Truth” was the last decade of government dominated by the conservative right, and how it seems to disregard anything that is not of itself. And more personally, a divorce where my spouse became enthralled with spirituality and could no longer find room in her life for me or our relationship. The conservative right ethic and spirituality are ways of viewing and interacting with the world. I have learned that both ways have a narrow focus, limited horizons, lack flexibility.
More generally, I have come to see established, institutionalized, structured belief systems, whether they are political or religious or spiritual or economic, as attempts to codify and give contextual substance our worldview. To organize a way to understand the world, to provide operational paths for living. A laudable intent. But these systems of thought often grow to be too large, too self-grandiosing, too self-supporting. Their practices and arguments and traditions can become circular and self-fulfilling. They are often rigid, and past based. Change is not allowed. Individual variation is not to be condoned. You cannot consider aspects of a given tenant to see if it has any merit for you. The rule is, if you accept any part of the system you are required to accept all of it with out question. Witness President Bush’s comment of “You’re either with us or against us….” In effect the system endeavors to highjack your worldview.
Are these established, institutionalized, structured belief systems bad? No, not in of themselves. But these systems of thought do want you to consider them as the highest standard of personal fulfillment. That if everyone would just follow this scared way of thinking all would be right with the world. The break point with considering any system of thought as the end-all-be-all is the universe is a big place, and reality is always a few steps ahead of logic. We must never think we can ever be so capable as to achieve an all-knowing, all-understanding sense of the universe. A closed system of thought certainly isn’t going to do it. A more flexible and open ended system is needed. My feeling is that these systems of thought should be considered not as the desired end of personal growth, but rather as the beginning of personal growth.
Which brings me back to “Level of Truth”. It can loosely be described as a stair case; each step up being a higher, more encompassing, level of understanding, of truth as it applies to you. Hence the name “Level of Truth”. And the staircase is endless. The only rules are to be open to the world around you, and to be self-aware. You have eyes and ears, use them. You have a mind, use it. Work to see what is and not what someone or some system of thought wants you to see. It is an open ended system. Learn to go with the flow. The only structural constraints are our own “….natural abilities, personal inclinations, life experiences…. ” These constraints will guide your growth. There is an inherent flexibility because there is no prespecified aim. You can go in any direction as dictated by your personal growth. The likelihood you will drift into areas of immorality and evil deeds is no grater then what you normally would have. You are who you are. You will not become cold and hard and bitter and mean unless that capacity already lies within you. In fact, it might be argued there is less of a chance you would fall into the negative as there are many fewer rules laying out an imperative to follow a prescribed, straight and narrow, presumed course of moral behavior.
It is not that we should avoid established, institutionalized, structured belief systems. What I am saying is that these systems are there to help you understand the world, to give you a framework for living in context with your environment. The systems should not be allowed to dictate your choices and actions. These systems are guides; they are here to support you. You are not here to support the systems. You can, and probably will, grow past the confines of any give system. Your worldview, your “Level of Truth”, is not static. Your worldview, your “Level of Truth”, will change and grow.
You should be open to such a possibility.
This I believe.