Poor Pilate. His most famous question has made him quite notorious. “What is truth?” has almost become a cliché. But, I think, it still resonates because it implies that we haven’t got a clue…which can make us very anxious.
We want to know. We want the security of knowing. It was once suggested to me that fundamentalists have poor self-esteem, the result of not trusting themselves. They want someone else to tell them what truth is, the answers to life’s deep questions. And they want black and white answers with no ambiguity. They want to be off the hook. They don’t want to be responsible for the consequences of thinking for themselves. They are, then, likely to never find their own truth. It takes courage to search, seek out, and step into one’s own truth. We set upon a hero’s journey, and it is risky, carrying the fear of, “What if I am wrong?”, “What if I make a mistake?” The bigger mistake might be refusing to jump into the fray with other truth-seekers, the result of which might just be a very boring life!
Scott Peck sums up the courageous soul: “Only a relative and fortunate few continue until the moment of death exploring the mystery of reality, ever enlarging and refining and redefining their understanding of the world and what is true.”
Carl Jung speaks to the need for truth to become our own through inner experience. He says, “But the most beautiful truth…is of no use at all unless it has become the innermost experience and possession of the individual. Every unequivocal, so-called ‘clear’ answer always remains stuck in the head and seldom penetrates the heart. The needful thing is not to know the truth but to experience it. Not to have an intellectual conception of things, but to find our way to the inner, and perhaps wordless, irrational experience…”
And from Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “Those who would develop consciousness pursue all that stands behind the readily observable: the unseen chirping, the murky window, the lamenting door, the lip of light beneath a sill. They pursue these mysteries until the substance of the matter is laid open to them.” It is a life-long journey of seeking what is before us, but has not yet become fully our own experience and reality.
Attention to symbol, the Jungian path, brings together what is before us, what we already know, with what we do not yet know. Symbolic knowing is archetypal. It is beyond time and place. It connects the eternal with human experience. According to Caroline Myss, “the symbolic mind is a fountain of strength and truth.”