What is Truth?
‘Truth can be defined as ‘a quality or state of being true.’ Truth is that which is ‘true’ or in accordance with fact or reality. Sometimes it can be defined as a fact or belief that is accepted as true.
Why is Truth important?
Truth can set us free from the path of falsehood.
What is the point to anything without the need for Truth? What is the point of speaking if it is a lie? What is the point of any action if it is an attempt to manipulate or deceive another?
Imagine a world where ‘truth’ did not matter- on an individual level as well as a global level.
On an individual level- Truth is about our intentions and thoughts going in line with our speech and behaviour. Truth is therefore important in order for us to be able to be true to ourselves. How would we ever learn from our past actions, events that have occurred, from others and their behaviour and better ourselves as individuals and societies if we did not seek the Truth?
On a relationship level- Imagine a world where it was ok to lie to one another, deceive one another with our words and actions, say one thing, but mean another- How would this affect our ability to establish trusting relationships? Truth in our human interactions is crucial if we want to establish strong friendships and trusting long lasting relationships.
How would we make such advances in science and technology if we didn’t seek truth? Without learning about facts about physics and maths and biology and astronomy- How would we ever learn?
How do we learn from history without establishing which parts were true and which parts were false?
How do we learn from religion and choose our paths to Truth- without asking the questions- what is it? Why did it come about? How did it come about? How reliable are the sources? How do we know if what we are following is Truth instead of just ‘Blind Faith?’
How would we establish a court of Justice if we did not seek Truth about a conviction? What would happen to criminals if there was not a fair and just system which seeks Truth by using evidence for and against a case and truthful witnesses to establish fairness? Individuals who deserve to be punished for a crime would be let loose to continue their convictions, and others who are innocent would be punished for another’s convictions. Where is Justice without Truth?
How can Truth help us?
Being Truthful- true to ourselves and true to others is major part of improving our mental and spiritual well-being.
Being Truthful can help us to have more self- respect- because we convince ourselves that we are being true to ourselves and not being a false witness to Truth. When we respect ourselves more- we are more likely to ‘love’ ourselves and love others more. We are less likely therefore to suffer with feelings of guilt, low self-esteem, low mood, anxiety and insomnia- which are major symptoms of depression and other mental health problems.
Seeking Truth with honest hearts- Many would say that this is a ‘path to ‘God’ because God is ‘Truth’ and loves those who are truthful. ‘Seeking Truth’ is often considered by many spiritual leaders around the world to be the most important aspect of improving our spirituality- improving our relationship with our Creator, gaining knowledge and wisdom and insight, and helping us to improve our human relationships with others- helping us to treat each other how we want to be treated- It also helps us on a community level to establish a fair courts of Justice.
When our intentions and thoughts are in line with our speech, which is then in line with our actions- it enables us to be more able turn dreams into reality while being ‘true’ to ourselves. It helps us to be ‘Creative’- and when balanced with other attributes like perseverance, justice, kindness, love, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude etc- a human being becomes able to accomplish and create in amazing ways while inspiring others to do the same.
If we are afraid of being true to ourselves perhaps because of fear for our reputation- or how it might impact our lives in what we think might be a negative way. By being truthful to others and ourselves- we may lose friends who we thought were friends- but the ones who are left- at least we know that they are true friends.
How can Truth help others?
A lie- often leads to another lie to cover up the previous lie, which leads to another lie to cover up that lie- which leads to whole new stories being created by people- just because they don’t want to tell the ‘truth.’ Whatever the reason is for not being truthful- lies eventually lead to loss of happiness and peace within ourselves, loss of trusting relationships with others, and enable us to cover up our misdeeds and harmful actions which means- no incentive to stop doing the harm. Therefore someone who believes it is ok to lie to another- is more likely to partake in harmful actions that hurt people because they believe they are less likely to be found out and punished for their actions.
Sometimes people are afraid of being truthful because they are worried that the truth will harm someone else and they feel they are trying to ‘protect’ an individual from that harm. It is easy to justify to ourselves that somehow then makes it ok to lie to others about our thoughts and intentions and actions if it is for the reason to help them. But let us look at it from another angle- if a person we care about found out the ‘truth’ about our past action- yes it may upset them- but how much more would it upset them if they found out that the whole time they had established what they thought was a trusting relationship with us –that we were in fact not the true person they thought we were- that we had deceived them, lied to them, betrayed them? How would they ever trust us again? Imagine if they never found out- would we be happy living with the guilt of deceiving someone we love by lying and convincing them that we are someone you are not? How would we ever feel comfortable enough to open up to them in our hour of need? –It can be a very lonely place to internally think and feel one thing, while lying to others about it in our speech and actions.
How can we become more Truthful?
Treating others how we ourselves would like to be treated- is a very useful way of looking at ‘Truth’ and help guide us to truthfulness. If for example we were married for 60 years to someone we believed loved us and was faithful to us- only to find out that the whole time they had been unfaithful, committing adultery and lying to us the whole time- how would this make us feel?
For someone who is used to habitually lying to others- it can become like a bad habit- before we know it- we lose ourselves- we do not recognise ourselves in the mirror- we lose our sense of reality and who we are. For that individual- to say- be ‘true to yourself’ can leave them feeling confused as to how to do this- because they don’t even know themselves anymore- they don’t know who they are, what they want in life, what is truth and what is false- because of the habitual lies. This however does not mean there is no hope for this individual. Every moment in our present day- we are able to ‘create’ a new person of ourselves- as long as we regret and repent our past, and try to mend our ways. The start of creating a new truthful person within us- begins with asking the questions- Who do I want to be? What do I want to achieve in life with the rest of my days? Why do I want to achieve this? How will this new person I choose to become help me and help others? By making a promise to ourselves and to others that we will not give false witness, or lie- we are more likely to avoid actions and choose a purpose in our lives that causes harm to others because of the fear of being found out- so by making this promise and sticking to it- whatever we choose to do with our lives to the best of our abilities- it is likely to be creative in a positive way for both ourselves and our happiness and for the benefit of others in our society.
By asking ourselves the question before we speak or act- are these words or actions in line with our thoughts and intentions- are they truthful? – we are more likely to break our habits of lying and deceiving ourselves and others.- This then helps us to gradually break free from other bad habits too that are likely harmful to ourselves or others in one way or another. – For example someone who habitually steals from others and then lies about it to prevent being found out and punished- if they break free from the habit of lying- it then makes it less likely that they will continue to steal, because it cannot be covered up by lies. Another example is someone who is in the habit of cheating on partners and then lying about it repeatedly: By stopping the habit of lying and having a principle to be truthful and honest from this day on- they are much less likely to engage in cheating because they know that they would have to admit to it, or might be more likely to be found out and this would be the end of their relationship. So by stopping the deceit and lies- this individual is much more likely to establish positive healthy trusting and meaningful relationships from now onwards. Relationships as we know are a major part of our mental and spiritual well-being.
It is important to keep our promises to ourselves and others so that we can convince ourselves and others that we are trustworthy individuals- when we say we will do something- we will try our best to do it- it helps us to show that we are committed individuals- and therefore more likely to succeed in all areas of our lives including work and home life.
When making a declaration to ‘always be truthful’ out loud with other witnesses, or by ourselves- perhaps to God if one believes in God, is like making a covenant. Once we make this covenant- it is important to stick to it. If we forget and accidentally break the covenant- it is important to remain to have integrity about the mistake- and be truthful about our errors- because without integrity- it is likely that a habitual liar will suddenly be able to become completely truthful in honest in all that they do. See section on ‘integrity.’
How can we seek Truth?
The act of ‘seeking truth’ can lead to amazing things. The following are examples of how one can seek truth:
The most important part is: ASKING QUESTIONS. We are more likely to reach answers if we ask questions. Let us question ourselves more, let us be open to being questioned by others, let us encourage one another to being more truthful- and to questioning themselves and others and let us question each other more- because by doing so- we are helping them too to seek ‘Truth.’
It is important during our journey to seeking truth that we use logic and reason, have integrity and do not fear the consequence of what others might think of us during the act of seeking truth and being more truthful.
1. Always Speak the Truth
2. Have integrity at all times
3. Do not be afraid of what others may think
4. Use logic and reason. If one part of an advice or knowledgeable source seems contradictory to another part of it- ask more questions in order to find the truth. One must be false.
5. Ask Questions
6. Do it respectfully
7. Persevere- don’t give up. But do not worry if you can’t find answers straight away- remember it is the act of seeking truth and being truthful that benefits us and others- By ‘surrendering’ to the ‘Truth’ that we are in search of can be enough to bring us inner Peace- as long as our hearts are always open to receiving it.
8. Read: books, journals, scriptures, while questioning and reasoning
9. Research: scientific research, research about sources of information- how and why something was written or said, taking into consideration history and the context in which something was written or said can also be very helpful.
10. Watch: films and TV programs can be educational- watch the actions of others- reflect and learn from their speech and behaviours- seek truth in their words and their actions. We often mirror one another in what we say and do.
11. Listen: radio, music, listen to others- try to establish whether or not those who talk to us are telling truth, and being truthful to them as well as to us? By learning skills to make judgements about another’s actions- we can apply it to ourselves and this can help us in our path to seeking truth and becoming more truthful.
12. Reflect: reflection and mindfulness about what we hear, read about, or learn from others is a crucial part of learning, and establishing what is truth from falsehood.
(Above Writings are based on the reflections of Dr Lale Tuncer)
Scripture quotes on Truth
'Distance yourselves from words of falsehood.' Torah
'Thou shalt not bear false witness.'Torah
'The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous endures forever.' Psalm 119:160
'Sanctify them in the Truth. Your Word is Truth.' John 17:17
'The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in Truth.' Psalm 145:18
'God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.' John 4:24
'Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in Truth.' John 3:18
'And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.' John 8:32
'Lead me in you Truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long.' Psalm 25:5
'And do not mix Truth with falsehood or conceal the Truth while you know (it).' Quran 2:42
'The patient, the True, the obedient, those who spend (in the way of God), and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.' Quran 3:17
'And whoever obeys God and the Messenger- those will be with the ones upon whom God has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of Truth, the Martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions.' Quran 4:69
'O you who have believed; be careful of your duty to God and be with the Truthful.' Quran 9:119
'…and avoid false statement.' Quran 22:30
'Among the believers are men who were True to their covenant with God; some of them have fulfilled their vow by death, and some are still awaiting, and they have not changed in the least;' Quran 33:23
'And who does greater evil than he who lies against God and cries lies to the very Truth, when it comes to him?...' Quran 39:32
'And he who brings the Truth and he who confirms (and supports) it- such are men who do right.' Quran 39:33
'So high (above all) is God, the Sovereign, the Truth……and say, “My Lord, increase me in knowledge.”' Quran 20:114
'And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves. Indeed, God loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver..' Quran 4:107