Watching Truth

If you haven't already heard it, Sam Harris and Jordan B. Peterson spent nearly TWO HOURS debating their perspectives on "what is true". While I applaud their ability to carry on such an interesting, intelligent, civilized conversation, neither places their focus on the one verifiable truth that matters most, the truth of how suffering arises within.

After we think something we feel something. Typically, after we feel something, in accord with that feeling, we either think, say, or do something. The consequences of these next thoughts, words, or actions then cycle back into the next thought, which gives rise to our next reaction. Like this, all day long, thinking, feeling, reacting, feeling, thinking, reacting...

When I think this, I feel this. When I think that, I feel that. Independently verifiable and indisputably true.

All too often, stress in life arises from rehashing the less than desirable details from past experiences. The mind spins in circles as we attempt to assert our sense of righteousness in the realm of subjective truth; our feelings, perspectives, and opinions versus that of another. Unfortunately, insisting that we can resolve these dilemmas by arriving at "I'm right to feel wronged" only exacerbates the problem, as we're clinging to the argument rather than letting it go, and ultimately, clinging to conclusions that are rooted in subjectivity!

Instead of all of our interpretations, we can focus on the raw data, which is completely objective, devoid of any sense of right or wrong. We just have to retrace the steps of how our thoughts gave rise to a feeling, then how that feeling determined our reaction, and then how that reaction determined whether we're creating suffering for ourselves or others. The details don't matter, we're just watching what we're doing in order to understand how the mind takes the raw data and shapes it into a story, the retelling of which causes us unnecessary problems.

When we can see this process clearly, empowered by the skills we garner through a regular meditation practice, we can interrupt and change the cycle, becoming skillful in choosing how we react to situations, leading to happier consequences.

Please feel welcome to join in meditation practice this evening from 6:15 - 7:30 upstairs at the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library.