The Truth of Truth

Truth is such a relative term.

There’s my truth, and your truth; the Republicans’ truth and the Democrats’ truth; the Christians’ truth and the Atheists’ truth; Nature’s truth; Economic truth… the list could go on and on.  How can there be so many seemingly contradictory truths?

In his book Prometheus Rising, Robert Anton Wilson posits that the human brain contains a Thinker and a Prover.  Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover will prove.

If the Thinker thinks that the sun moves around the earth, the Prover will obligingly organize all perceptions to fit that thought; if the Thinker changes its mind and decides the earth moves around the sun, the Prover will reorganize the evidence.

If the Thinker thinks “holy water” from Lourdes will cure its lumbago the Prover will skillfully orchestrate all signals from the glands, muscles, organs, etc. until they have organized themselves into good health again.

And if the Thinker thinks passionately enough, the Prover will prove the thought so conclusively that you will never talk a person out of such a belief, even if it is something as remarkable as the notion that there is a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical heft (“GOD”) who will spend all eternity torturing people who do not believe in his religion.

For me, this illustrates the power of thought and our human potential.  It also shows me how delusional I am and how easy it is to believe my own delusions.  And not because I have bipolar disorder and am prone to delusions, but because I am a human being prone to delusion.

This week, during conversations and while reading, I was struck again and again by the way we will seize truth, latch onto it with a death grip and claim it, absolutely, for our own.  We pull together all the collateral evidence to shore up our new conviction, stitch together a flag, and take our Truth on the road.  It means we don’t have to worry anymore, at least until our Thinker gets another brainstorm and sends the Prover off to do its thing.  We can ride the wave of our Truth, blissfully snoring away in our new-found comfort.

Which is what Thinking and Proving is all about—finding safety and comfort in a world that feels threatening and unfathomable; validating our sense of self (or egos), and maintaining the internal status quo.

It’s exhausting.

So, my response is to consider everything the Thinker throws at me with curiosity and gentle skepticism.  And when the Prover runs back with all its goodies, I try to hold each one lightly, picking it up and setting it down without grasping.  This, too, is hard work.  But I have an advantage over most people.  I know I’m delusional.

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rev Marshall Wright
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 10:27:05

    My solution: Understanding is greatly overrated . . . so much so in our culture that it is truly hard to comprehend. Be innocent . . . go with the flow. HO


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 12, 2012 @ 10:57:45

      Understanding may be overrated, but misunderstanding is powerful. To me “Be innocent” implies naiveté and an absence of responsibility. I don’t think that’s what you mean. . .


  2. littlesundog
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 11:37:32

    What a powerful message! I have read this post twice this morning, each time pondering this perspective in my own life. It’s taken me a long time in this journey, to learn to respect others’ truths, and realize that my own truth was simply my perception of an experience. Why is it that we have this great conviction to be “right” and our own truth be THE truth? Isn’t it alright for everyone to be allowed to have their own sense of safety, comfort and self, without having to hammer it home? I try not to take my own “prover” too seriously. The ego is a creator of delusion, always attempting to snuff out the inner spirit.


  3. Deb
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 14:27:52

    Misunderstanding (aka delusion) is indeed powerful. It is the source from which deluded human beings make up stories and act upon them as if they were the gospel. This then perpetuates unnecessary conflict and alienation, both between the ears and in the outer world…IMHO.


  4. pompeii
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 16:17:34

    That sounds like a really interesting book!

    “Which is what Thinking and Proving is all about—finding safety and comfort in a world that feels threatening and unfathomable;”

    I think this hits the nail on the head for me. I think I need some sort of core from which to do all my questioning. If I didn’t at least have my mind made up about some things (while trying to respect other people’s ‘truths’), I wouldn’t have a basis from which to explore a lot of other issues.

    It does make me question the whole medicated to natural approach to treatment though. For example, if you believe the natural approach will work, will your body and mind then prove you right?

    Also agree: realising one is delusional is a step ahead of most people!


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 12, 2012 @ 16:58:12

      I highly recommend Prometheum Rising. Lots of cartoons and light-heartedness while dealing with heavy, mind-twisting stuff.
      I think having a core or platform is important for the reasons you state. Even more important, maybe, is realizing our values and interests are choices.
      Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.


  5. Kathryn McCullough
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 16:32:22

    Great post, Sandy. I especially love the last sentence–both the potential humor and utter seriousness of it. Well done, my friend.


  6. pegoleg
    Feb 13, 2012 @ 15:09:22

    There’s a lot of “truth” in the author’s concept of Thinker and Prover – powerful food for thought that I really appreciate. The smugly condescending dismissal of God, whom the majority of earth’s inhabitants’ believe to be real, as nothing more than “a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical heft”? – not so much.


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 13, 2012 @ 16:03:17

      My understanding is that the author was referring to one of those very odd and specific concepts of god (God as a Cosmic Veg-O-Matic—that sort of thing) that only a few people acknowledge to illustrate how fiercely folks will hold onto their beliefs. Sorry if it offended.


      • pegoleg
        Feb 13, 2012 @ 16:20:32

        No prob, Sandy. YOU have no control over how I (or anyone else) respond to words sent out into the blogosphere. And while I think it not very nice if somebody is deliberately trying to offend, I would never think you guilty of that.

        Interesting topic, though.

      • Sandy Sue
        Feb 14, 2012 @ 08:56:23

        Actually, that was a chicken-shit answer on my part. If I’d had the cojones to begin with, I would have noted how that post pushed your buttons, which is where the real gifts lie.

  7. carlarenee45
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 15:50:07

    I am not offended by this post and my difference of opinion is just that, my opinion but one of which is a logical one. Simply put, There really is a real truth about everything. But, with all our seeking, thinking, and also our inner desires for what truth should be, the visions and denominations, cults, groups, bias, and so many more influences, I don’t think that anybody has ever found the real truth. I mean, so you say, “the sky is gold”, so for you that is the truth? and so on. I must say this way of thinking is ignorant. The sky is the same color for everyone. That is the truth. It is just finding, accepting the truth as it stands before you, or seeing it the way you choose to or how someone has told you it is. I do not want to offend you, you are a special blogger friend. No matter how we differ, and we do in a few areas, it does not change the fact that I am here to support you. You have been a great encouragment to me as well.


    • Sandy Sue
      Feb 14, 2012 @ 19:13:22

      You don’t offend me at all. I love the discussion and how people have shared their beliefs and convictions. It’s fascinating to see what gets under people’s skin. Hopefully, if that happens, folks will take the time to look at that and ponder.


  8. steve
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 21:48:43

    “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” Hume


  9. Anne Kelly
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 22:16:24

    I heard something recently that basically said, Truth is something that continues standing when compared against it’s polar opposite. So if you can challenge Truth with opposing views, and it perseveres, then it’s more Truthful than before.


    • Sandy Sue
      Sep 04, 2013 @ 05:48:22

      The questions would be who decides that it continues standing? Is that also an opinion? Just asking.


      • Anne Kelly
        Sep 04, 2013 @ 06:07:52

        I guess I’m not sure what Truth you mean. I tend to think in Scientific Truth. Most everything else is subject to our mental manipulation.

      • Sandy Sue
        Sep 04, 2013 @ 20:11:37

        Even science is in a state of flux. What we take as absolute one year shifts the next (think quantum physics or when the sun orbited the earth). Most of what we know are theories.
        The scientists I know are the first ones to say they know nothing (which is why I love them so much).

  10. Alison and Don
    Aug 19, 2015 @ 22:56:47

    Oh yes. What fun. We are all delusional. I watch the thinker carefully too, and then choose to prove (or believe) what’s convenient. For example I had osteoporosis so I researched what supplements I needed to grow bone density, then quietly proved it to myself by taking all the required supplements. I no longer have osteoporosis. Fun eh?! Life is what you expect/believe it to be.


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