Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Teasing Out The Truth

Vino Bello, Napa, California, USA

August 12, 2017

"The truth believed is a lie."
"What I have is a place to stand. Not the right place, for I do not pretend to know what is right even for myself, let alone others, but a place I am willing to try out to see if it leaves me as a clearing where the truth can more powerfully go to work."
fleshing out his "I am committed to being a space where the truth can go to work" answer to Laurence Platt's question "Who are you like a possibility, like a commitment?" in Questions For A Friend III
This essay, Teasing Out The Truth, was written at the same time as Our Say So: An Open Secret.

I notice when I'm not being vigilant, I'm likely to have a problem with the Truth. When I do, it's not subtle. It's obvious. It's absolute. It's unavoidable. If I'm not careful in the way I relate to the Truth ie if I'm not careful in the way I interact with the Truth, it gets worse ie I magnify the problem. It's probably true to say you (ie we all) have the same problem with the Truth - in other words, it's a human  problem rather than my personal one. I'm not asserting that as a statement of fact. I am however, inviting you to look and see for yourself if the problem doesn't manifest with you too. So that we're aligned, what I call the problem with the Truth, is this:

The Truth is prone to being believed  - which is to say I'm inviting you to look and see for yourself if you're prone to believing the Truth. That's  the problem. If the Truth is experienced, it's the Truth. But if the Truth is believed, it's no longer the Truth:  it's a belief. And when the Truth is no longer the Truth, then it's a lie - hence the vintage Erhard  classic "The Truth, believed, is a lie.". That distinction is black and white. There's no gray. It's either / or. It's one or the other. It's never both.

Even the simplest, most cursory examination of the Truth as it's experienced  shows once it's believed ie once it becomes a belief, it's no longer the Truth. There's no way it can be!  Be careful: that's not a moral judgement. Rather it's surrendering to the underlying reality that the Truth and our beliefs occur in different domains.

In generating these Conversations For Transformation, I've become wary of casting any of them and anything I say in any of them, as the Truth (yet me not casting any of them and anything I say in any of them as the Truth, doesn't mean I'm lying - as ironic as that may sound). I've had to train myself to be wary of blurring this line. So how exactly is speaking the Truth possible, given my propensity to immediately devolve it into a belief ie into a lie?


"Speaking the truth" is not synonymous with "telling the truth". "Speaking the truth" includes  "telling the truth" but "telling the truth" doesn't necessarily include "speaking the truth".

"Telling the truth" is faithfully relaying what's happening and / or what happened accurately ie as it really  happens ie as it really happened, without lying.

"Speaking the truth" on the other hand, is coming from  the Truth so that whatever's said carries with it and conveys the experience of the Truth. More than that, when I say "speaking" the truth, I don't mean speaking "of"  the Truth ie I don't mean speaking "about"  the Truth. Rather, when I say "speaking" the truth, I mean generating the experience of the Truth  with my language ie with my conversation.

Like honey to a bear, "speaking the truth" once discovered (for example, by listening the truth being spoken) is irresistable  to human beings. "Speaking the truth" is the "teasing out the truth"  for which this essay is titled.


One arguably pragmatic way of solving this dilemma, is to present myself to the Truth ie to offer  myself to the Truth as a place to stand  ie as a clearing  in which the Truth can show up and go to work (when you present yourself to the Truth ie when you offer yourself to the Truth as a place to stand ie as a clearing in which the Truth can show up and go to work, it's the beginning of your partnership with Werner). If I take that on, I then have something I can test ie I then have something I can try on for size ie I then have something I can look at and see if it fits. That's a way to relate to the Truth. Then, by holding the Truth in constant scrutiny, I can ensure it doesn't devolve into a belief - at least for as long as I hold it in constant scrutiny ie at least for as long as I have my attention on it.

Holding the Truth in constant scrutiny, calls for me to stay vigilant. The moment I cease being vigilant, the clearing I am in which the Truth can show up, clouds over. That's when the Truth as belief / lie comes back again. And so that we're clear, that's neither a bad  thing, and nor is it a good  thing. Rather it may just be the best it gets for us human beings. I don't know if there are any better options.

The wise men and women among us are those who stay vigilant. More sooner than later (it's not if  but when), your vigilance will lapse, and the Truth will devolve into belief again. That's ordinary. As soon as you notice your vigilance has lapsed, be vigilant again. That's extraordinary. Staying vigilant empowers teasing out the Truth.

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