Love of Truth – A Skill of Authentic Living

For me the love of truth is of utmost importance, and it is one of the psychological traits which foster authenticity (see Some Psychological Skills which Enable Authenticity Living). In the preceding post, I wrote about the nature of personal truth (What is the Truth which Personal Authenticity Expresses?). Here I want to explore how the love of truth expresses itself.

Let me first share several favorite stories from history which exemplify the love of truth and whose examples move me. To begin, imagine that the religious and political powers of your kingdom have targeted you. You are called before the very emperor himself and his court to defend yourself. Previous defendants have been known to have been captured and executed in transit. Such was the situation which Martin Luther faced in 1521 when he was called before Emperor Charles and the Diet of Worms to defend his 95 theses which refuted Catholic doctrine and founded the Protestant Reformation.

Amidst his defense, in defiance of the emperor, his court, attending religious powers, but not his truth, Luther proclaimed words which still resound through the centuries:

“Here I stand; I can do no other. So help me God. Amen!”

Imagine now an earlier era. The political powers have brought you to trial. If found guilty, the penalty will be death! Just so 70-year-old Socrates was brought to trial in 399 B.C.E. by the 500 citizens of Athens for corrupting the youth of Athens (by teaching them to think for themselves!).

Socrate’s followers and some citizens urged that all he had to do was to relinquish his teaching, and he would be set free. Defending his willingness to be put to death, rather than recant his personal truth, Socrates spoke to his fellows these words also remembered across centuries:

“I think it’s better to have my lyre [MN: harp] or a chorus that I might lead out of tune and dissonant, and have the vast majority of men disagree with me and contradict me, than to be out of harmony with myself, to contradict myself, though I’m only one person.”

Finally there’s the example of Jesus, a fellow human as vulnerable to harm as you and I, but seemingly gifted with enlightenment. At Gethsemane, having a foreboding of his imminent death, he utters, finally, in service to his truth, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

Common to Luther, Socrates, and Jesus, is a loyalty to the truth which Being has revealed through and as their personal experience of life. Their love of truth is foremost; it overrides concern for freedom, even life itself. That love surrenders the ego and its preferences to the deepest perception of Being as they have come to know it.

Most of us will lead lives known only to loved ones, friends, and associates, yet the love of truth will find its opportunity to reveal itself amid our ordinary lives. For some, their truth will be a joyous deepening of their understanding of life. Some others will glimpse that a long-cherished illusion about themselves or about life is false. Life will present many of us with choosing between truth or losing face, friendship, reputation, or status.

Why choose truth? Our politicians from the left and the right demonstrate just how hard it is to choose truth instead of personal interest. They also demonstrate the cost of not choosing truth. Yet truth remains an optimizing orientation to Being. Said otherwise, truth (what is so) frees the ego from its identifications and orients to a deepening experience of the Mystery in which we all live and move and have our being.

Many of us now ache for leaders and a society that serve truth. We can foster the development of just such a society by founding our lives on a love of truth. From our personal example, we may transform our families. From our families, we may transform a nation.

What is your personal relationship with the truth you have come know through your own personal experience?


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