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Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Search for Truth in a Reverent Spirit (Part One)

(Editors note:  This is the first segment in a new series.)

Many ordinary people find that something important is missing from life’s daily experience.  The cosmic balance has been altered.  The pursuit of happiness has, so it seems, evolved into a mindless and impersonal pursuit of material gain.  At times, it tends to consume us all.  The more we have yields the illusion that we’re almost where we need to be --- if only we could get a little more?

Why do the multitudes who possess so little appear to have much?  Conversely, why do people who appear to have so much in reality possess little?  Perhaps it’s just a matter of perspective.

Possession may mean one thing, when the goal is competitive advantage.  Its motivating force is a heavy burden which may consume the material aspirant.  But possession may mean something altogether different in a spirit of cooperation.  For example, do puppies at play really fight over a bone?  Or is there another dynamic involved?

What is the elusive ingredient we are searching for, absent from this great experiment in democracy we call the pursuit of happiness?  It’s not an easy question.  Those who have given it serious thought are content to label it a search for Truth.  However, this search leads to a fork in the road: on one side is science --- on the other, spirit.  A bright line divides the two.

In science, discovery of any “new” principle is little more than a matter of black and white.  If a principle cannot be scientifically proven, reason dictates that it simply be rejected.  Nor is it ever a matter of interpretation.  The idea that the earth is round was first proposed in the 6th century BC.  But it remained a matter of “philosophical speculation” until the 3rd century BC, when the earth’s spherical shape was “established” as a spherical given.

Surely the laws of gravity existed before man “discovered” its scientific principles.  Consider that nothing changed, in fact, except man’s understanding.  Would it not be pure folly, then, to debate the scientific properties of light?  But we can --- and should --- continue to ponder life’s important questions:  Where does light come from?  What is its source?  And so it is not difficult to understand the controversy over whether global warming is “real” --- for in a competitive landscape, many lives do hang in the balance.

On the other side of the divide are those whose lives are guided by spirit --- an energy force which surely cannot be explained by science alone --- if at all.  To them, reliance on reason alone is a limiting factor in the search for Truth --- unacceptably limiting.

In the scriptures Pilate's questionioning of Jesus went something like this:  “But what is truth?  Is truth unchanging law?  We both have truths.  Are mine the same as yours?”  To say that these questions are provocative --- in such an unequal exchange --- would be a gross understatement.  Will ordinary man’s consciousness ever be raised to the point where such answers do become scientifically defensible?

Liberated from the limitations of science, those who are guided by spirit are driven more commonly by intuition.  This allows for the potential of a broader understanding --- Theodore Roosevelt labeled it The Search for Truth in a Reverent Spirit --- and a higher trajectory.  Non-discriminatory by its nature, this path is available to everyone.  And the transformational principle --- is faith.

While scientific skeptics may be constantly nipping at the heels of spiritual mystics, somehow the latter remain undeterred.  “When an interest in Truth exceeds any interest in blame, expectation, or any form of comparison,” notes Matt Kahn, the spiritual teacher, “it is an indication that life has successfully prepared you for the soul’s true journey.”  As we progress and aim higher, that journey supplies the richness by which we --- and our lives --- will come to be defined.

(Editor’s note:  The Search for Truth in a Reverent Spirit continues. Read Part Two ... )

-Michael D’Angelo