Sunday, 8 September 2013

Truth a matter of perception

Does the truth set you free?  But what if the truth is different for each person. Being an immigrant I had to rethink the whole concept of truth.
When you come to a new country you suddenly learn that they do things differently and have different values. Your truths are shaken.
When you grow up you learn values and knowledge from your parents, teachers, society. Did you test it if it was true. No you just took it on. If you challenged "the truth" you were sometimes told of. Most people learned to take everything on face value.

In ancient Greece, Socrates encouraged people to think for themselves and let them question their dogma's and beliefs. I think this is a healthy thing to do. Even the scientists don't know it all. I have done a psychology diploma. I remember that I sometimes found opposing research and than choose the one which fitted most with my own experience. This makes the flowing quote true for me:

"Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, how they are, and of things which are not, how they are not" Protagoras

So truth is a matter of perception.  Our knowledge is filtered by experience, culture, education, our genetic inclination etc. I have worked with children with learning disabilities. They quickly tell you that they can't do anything. If you get to know them you know that is not true. Some things which are simple for most people are very difficult for people with LD. Therefore they are often told that they are stupid and can't do anything right. They start to believe this and get anxious when they are asked to do something and subsequently do it wrong, which fits their believe.

So people see an aspect of the truth and think it is the whole truth and therefore make it into a believe. Other people who have different believes are by some thought to be ignorant or evil by distorting the truth. I think people are often afraid that their truth and therefore their being gets challenged and  that they might loose part of themselves if they admit that others ideas are be true. Their ego might get a punch. Often though all people are partly right and all have it wrong as the gorgeous poem underneath explains.

Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach'd the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
 "God bless me! but the Elephant
 Is very like a wall!"

 The Second, feeling of the tusk,
 Cried, -"Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
 To me 'tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approach'd the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
 Thus boldly up and spake:
 "I see," -quoth he- "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
 And felt about the knee:
  "What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," -quoth he,- "
'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a tree!"

 The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
 Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
  "I see," -quoth he,- "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
 Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
 And all were in the wrong!

Evaluate your truth and that of others carefully and realise that we often don't know the whole truth.
We do have some truth's where most of us agree upon for example around the values what is good and what is bad. I think that we instinctively know that, if we are honest to ourselves. Being aware of all this could take us on the road to free ourself.


  1. Yes,truth is a matter of perception. We don't see the whole truth or the whole reality. We interpret what we see and call it reality.

  2. I have always loved the elephant tale you quoted … it expresses so well what you have said about truth being mostly partial truths and often misconceptions. And since dogma does get confused with truth so often I suppose we need to sort out for ourselves what is fact and what is fiction.

  3. Marja, what a thoughtful post, and I love the elephant poem - have heard the story before but not the poem. You are so right about having to find our own way. Our values guide us to the deeper truths.

  4. Yes I'd have to agree to a certain point that truth is a matter of perception. Like the illustration and poem suggests how we view something greatly shapes our reality.

    For me, and apparently a few others with vastly more education and intelligence than I could ever hope to achieve or acquire, this has shaped the view that humans are not a true sentient species.

    Their point that I share is that when people's view of reality is limited to the finite things that directly effect then they cannot make judgments on anything outside that narrow vision.

    The best example I can offer is the basic ignorance here in the United States on human induced climate change. While the vast majority of trained scientists believe it is dire threat to humanity many here in the States view it as simple wrong or some grand anti-American conspiracy.

    From experience and observation those who deny climate change usually shape their opinions on it because of economic, political, or even religious reasons.

    Socrates encouraged people to think for themselves and let them question their dogma's and beliefs.

    Personally I believe true intelligence and truth may lie when we step out our carefully crafted comfort zones and rationally observe and test the world around us.

  5. What a great insightful post Marja!
    I have read the elephant poem before and it certainly backs up your views about truth.

    The truth is the first thing that goes out the window when the ego is involved. The ego is always in search for appreciation.

    I love your last line my friend:
    "Being aware of all this could take us on the road to free oneself".

    Peggy ♥♥♥

  6. Marja, I loved the poem.
    And your post has "much food for thought"

    I think being honest with ourselves is the first and most important truth.
    "To thine own self, be true"
    If we are not honest with ourselves, how can we be honest with others?

    Lots to think about here.
    Thank you!

  7. yes, truth is matter of personal perception

  8. Each person's truth is different. Nicely written,

  9. Wat een mooi gedicht en zo echt waar. Ik heb het weleens tegen een gelovige van een andere religie gezegd, dat we allemaal een ander deel van God meemaken en dat het allemaal bij elkaar God zelf is. Zelfs mensen vertonen verschillende kanten. Bedankt voor dit gedicht.

  10. You know Marja, I just love every word you have written here, and so agree with ALL of it..
    Thank you for spreading your Truth, I have wrote upon this subject often..
    Loved the Elephant poem, I had heard is long ago, but forgotten most of it.. And it made me smile as we all only see that which we perceive...

    Glad to see you are spreading the Light of Truth Marja, lets hope as you recently said upon my post that more and more awaken .. SOOOOON!

    Love and Blessings Sue xoxox

  11. Hi Marja .. I don't think I've heard or been read or seen The Elephant poem ... but what a great take on truth and those aspects of life ..

    Cheers Hilary

  12. You're's not always black and white. Truth can be a matter of perception. Wonderful post.

  13. Wonderful post/poem dear Marja. I agree with the other comments too.

  14. Absolutely the 'truth' of the matter I would say. Thank You!


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