Truth, Zen, a German mystic, Luis Suarez and more ….
That would be one hell of a short blog. But this one rambles a little. Be warned.
Zenpolitics has to be about truth, so let’s get philosophical for a few moments. Meister Eckhart, who appears later – who he? A medieval German mystic , with a Zen sensibility.
Philosophical about truth. Uruguayans would take on the British media in a new war of Suarez’s teeth if they could. Our same bulldog media take on FIFA, and they have a good case it seems, so why is it that the rest of the world doesn’t fall into line behind the seemingly self-evident truths our friendly media unearth. And we’re in a minority of 26-2 over Europe: a partnership with the less than savoury Hungarian government is no place to be.
Truth treads a light step but once we mess around with it, personalise it, over-egg it, turn it into an attack dog, it loses its way.
Truth, we’re told, is relative to each individual. So too goodness and justice. We accept that the perspective of each of us is different, each individual, family, tribe or nation, and that means our values are different, and what is self-evident truth for one is an arrant falsehood for another. We reinforce our beliefs with myths, consolidate them into prejudices, and willingly retreat behind them to find security.
But there is another truth, defined by awareness of an alternative point of view, belonging to another person(s), another country, taking into account also their habits and their wider world. Before we pronounce we instinctively allow for the fact that on any issue there could be anything from a nuanced difference to an opposite position, held maybe with a passion equal to our own. I say ‘instinctively’: we can’t deliberate before every decision. All we can be is aware that the other person’s point of view may be as valid as our own. We respond of course to evident wrong or evil, but we recognise integrity.
We can also be guided by whether our actions are such as to engender trust. Trust recognised and reinforced facilitates human interaction, distrust undermines lives private and public – alliances are hardly worth the paper on which they are inscribed, they exist out of convenience, a nation is deemed perfidious as the French viewed Albion. Convenience and self-interest and the pursuit of power have of course driven human history, and it’s only in our day when there’s a possibility of a higher diplomacy that we can even consider that trust could mean something.
Even more powerful would be a simple sense that goodness is a natural human state. If we persist in believing in present-day man as an evolutionary compromise with the violence that is innate in all species, or more specifically the genes of all species, then all morality must be relative to its age, conditioned by the circumstances that create harmonious survival, and a utilitarian happiness which we seize upon while we have it. If on the other hand we recognise goodness and truth as innate, indwelling, to use Meister Eckhart’s phrase, it becomes a mighty sword, simplifying our lives as we seek out the wider good and the good of others rather than our own. To quote Eckhart: ‘Goodness is neither created nor made nor begotten, but it is generative and gives birth to the good man.’ Goodness is more than indwelling, it is universal. We as individuals are part of it, by our very existence we subscribe to it. ‘Goodness reproduces itself and all that is in a good man. It pours being, knowledge, love and activity into a good man, and a good man receives the whole of his being, knowledge, love and activity from the heart and core of goodness and from it alone.’
Goodness and truth are co-terminous, they cannot exist without each other. They make a mighty force if only we will recognise it. It may be that our personal philosophies or theologies can’t accept goodness as having a separate, overarching, indwelling existence. But if we can at least recognise the extraordinary transformative power of goodness, we loose a mighty force into the world.
Goodness and truth are then no longer relative. They are the criteria by which we judge every action, and in time they become instinctive, so that there is no other way to act. We may argue the correctness of an action, but the integrity of the individual and the argument behind that action we would have no reason to doubt.
An attainable utopia? For individuals at least? Maybe not the wide world or our country or even our local patch. Not yet. But it is the necessary, the only first step, on the path to a better world.