Ultimately and truly, there is no truth!
When we use the word ‘Truth’, almost universally we mean something expressed, meaning, and equation, a theory, something about the nature of existence, the nature of God and our relation to God, or keys to understanding existence itself, life and death itself. This is generally what we mean by that word ‘Truth’.
That is, the word truth means words, concepts, ideas, defined sets, mathematical concepts, the continuum, quantum mechanics, relativity theory,, cosmology, id, ego, the divine, or something as simple as a city.
Nisargadatta uses the example of how the concept of a city defines nothing, provides no way to actually deal with an entity called the city. He used the example of the city called Mumbai. Let us change that and use a city I know so well, Los Angeles.
So what is Los Angeles? We will find that the closer we look at the sub elements recall Los Angeles, the less there is to be grasped, or better yet, there are so many complexities that the subcategories of city do not at all represent what that city is like.
For thousands of years spiritual teachers from Zen, to Advaita, even classical Buddhism have said that there is no truth. All concepts are empty, void of meaning, void of a public ability to our experience. As Alfred Korzybski said in his great book, Science and Sanity, the map is not the terrain. Words are a nongraphical way of describing terrain, or as a general metaphor for the subject matter under investigation.
When we come to the concept of the city, and we investigate more deeply into what a city is, and therefore what that label Los Angeles would describe, things get very complex very fast, because our experience of the actual physical entity we might call a city, is very different from the concept that most people have of the phrase Los Angeles.
For example, what do we actually mean by the term ‘Los Angeles’?
Here are some of the things that we might mean when we examine both the concept of ‘Los Angeles’, and what we actually find when we physically and conceptually examine an actual entity we might call Los Angeles.
When we speak of Los Angeles, are we not in a way speaking of the land there? Are we not talking about the Los Angeles River, the aqueduct system that carries the water into the city from Northern California, are we not talking about hundreds of thousands of residential buildings, the tens or hundreds of thousands of commercial and government buildings, are we talking about the thousands of miles of freeways, arterial streets, theater streets, and alleys?
Further, if were talking about the land, we should also investigate the infrastructure under that land, the subways, the storm drain sewer piping, the second sewer system caring away contaminated water to the sea, water pipes, gas pipes, electrical cable, fiber-optic cable, copper wires, and even the electrical power grid of the city, with its transformers, junction boxes, switching stations, and street distribution systems.
We also talk about the water piping system within the city, including fire hydrants, and access pipes to the house, as well as the natural gas distribution network of pipes, valves, and distribution stations.
We also talk about the networks of geological faults underlying the Los Angeles area, from the Santa Monica fault, to the Northridge fault, to all the other faults.
Finally talking about land, we talk about the farming quality of the land, the amount of tree cover or green cover, we talk about the amount of ground is covered by earthen but is covered by concrete or asphalt. We talk about the drainage system for when it rains, and how often it rains. You also talk about the prevailing temperature from day to day through the four seasons and throughout the year and varying over the decades.
Then we could go from block to block, and take soil samples and measure them at various points throughout the city to find patterns, and geological patterns in terms of types of rock, groundwater availability, the number of pumping wells, and leakages from various gas stations of oil related pollutants and other things.
And this is just looking at the land. What other things are contained in the concept ‘Los Angeles’?
Her approximately 4 million people that live in Los Angeles. Each has a name, each has a body, each has a major degree of education, each has an assignable IQ, each has emotions, each has wants and desires, and each has some job or is retired or is too young to even go to school. A certain percentage or high school students, others go to college, and 60,000 go to UCLA, studying a myriad of different disciplines, from law, to anthropology, to mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and religion. How do we characterize these 4 million people? It is an impossible task is it not? Would we have to know every specific individual of these 4 million, and how they related to many of the others they meet from day-to-day, characterize the nature of that relationship, such as married, friends, enemies, coworkers, employers, employees, salaries, educational level, political affiliation, voter registration, voting patterns, financial patterns, distribution of wealth throughout the city in terms of where various social classes live, racial and ethnic distribution throughout the city of the various peoples and how they interrelate within those neighborhoods.
To see how complex the actual physical reality of what we call ‘Los Angeles’ becomes when we actually investigate all the sets and subsets and attributes that we would have to explore in order to thoroughly understand the concept of ‘Los Angeles’?
Then we would have to investigate the interplay of the public and private sectors. We would have to look at economic patterns, transportation patterns within the city of cars and trucks, trains and buses, subways and airplanes. We would have to talk about the distribution of goods and how they are distributed throughout the city by truck, car, train, etc. We would have to investigate the traffic pattern of users of these goods or services, such as by foot, car, bus, subway.
Next we would have to look at the various government entities and their activities, from County recorder recording person tests, land ownership, land transfer, taxes and collection, sending that money to the state, which is redistributed back to the cities. We have to look at the various enforcement entities at the city, county, state, and federal level that exists within Los Angeles, from federal buildings, and bases, the County Court system, the County Sheriff’s office and its thousands of deputies, and patrol cars, as well as the city of Los Angeles police force, and the police forces of the various suburbs of Los Angeles, such as Santa Monica, and how they interrelate in complex patterns to contain crime, and serve the public in its various ways.
I have only begun to investigate what we mean when we use the phrase ‘Los Angeles’. Can you see how incredibly complex our investigation becomes when we begin to define what we need to look at when we think of that city, or any city? We are investigating tens of millions of factors and humans, as well as pets, and how they interact with each other on a personal level, with the land, with their houses, with their water usage, their electrical usage, their voting patterns, political clubs, with the police and sheriffs departments, with the legal system, with the enforcement system, with their employers, with city Council, and also the various city services. There is no way that a thousand scholars that are digging ever more deeply into the concept of the actuality or terrain that the phrase ‘Los Angeles’ reach a conclusion of what that label means. We can always dig deeper, into the molecules of the soil, into the new changes of temperature over a year, rainfall patterns, violent deaths, accidental deaths, morbidity patterns, pollution problems and densities, Zika virus monitoring, etc.
Therefore, we come back to the fundamental truth that there is no truth, and that the map, the graphing or description of the actual terrain, of the actual subject matter, is not the subject itself. The mapping, or the descriptions, are about various activities, objects, processes, relationships, abstract non-discernible laws controlling behaviors, financial transactions, income distribution patterns, voting patterns, etc., add infinitum. There is no end to a thoroughgoing analysis of the concept ‘Los Angeles’.
That is, we could go on forever with a more and more subtle analysis, and never understand but the actual city is like. Even poetry cannot describe the entirety of the “actual” purported terrain of the city of Los Angeles. We can have endless analysis and descriptions about it, but we can never grasp it with our minds. We can only experience living in Los Angeles and tell our tail of what is like to live in Los Angeles. The terrain is our individual experience of Los Angeles, and what it is like to be an Angeleno. Multiply that by 4 million, and we have a hundred encyclopedias describing the city from our point of view.
Thus the only truth is, that there is no truth, and the map is not the terrain or the actual experiential object.
This is the truth concerning such an easy subject matter as the city of Los Angeles. But what if we get into less tangible subject matter, less tangible terrain, such as described by quantum mechanics or cosmology? Here the theories get ever more subtle, evermore obscure, evermore complex mathematically, were were talking about 11 dimensional space, and everything is made up of invisible strings, or vibrations in the ether, and the entire universe is but one among an infinite number of coexisting universes, sitting side-by-side in different quantum realities. Such as the state of modern cosmology now.
And supposedly talk about the greatest subject matter of all, and that is who I am. When we asked the question, “who am I?” Based on the example of Los Angeles given above, can you see how quickly this can become a very complex analysis, with lots of terms, lots of ideas, lots of attributes attributed, and in essence, the description becomes so complex and fundamentally we find out that there is nothing there the deeper we go, only emptiness, and beyond emptiness, Nothingness.
I have described the process of self inquiry hundreds and thousands of times. There is no use to repeated in-depth here. But when we begin to investigate who I am, do we not first look to books, to experts, to sages, to scriptures, to Masters and Gurus? Thus we may spend years gathering the concepts of Eckhart Tolle, J. Krishnamurti, Osho, Ramana marshy, Nisargadatta, Sailor Bob, Ed Muzika, the Bhagavad-Gita, Zen koans and Buddhist scriptures, Advaita or Kashmir shamanism philosophy?
The next step is to actually begin to look within at our own experience of self, from the first grasping of the experience of existing, that most referred to as the concept or experience of ‘I-Am’. Where do we experience that, if we experience it at all? In the head, in the heart, in our guts? To experience internal energies? Do we experience our inner emptiness? Do we experience a sense of presence within permeating our bodies and extending beyond them into the surrounding environment?
Do we go deeper, submerge our center of awareness, deeper within our sense of presence and located to be near the heart? Do we then go deeper into our heart of hearts, the most private, the most vulnerable part of our existence? And this is just the beginning of our search which can go on for years, going ever more deeply through the various levels of consciousness or self, including the descriptive pattern used by Siddharameshwar who was Nisargadatta’s teacher, and which is quite common in Hindu philosophy talking about the gross body experience with the external world, the subtle body experience of internal energies in the sense of presence, the dream state, the deep sleep state, the causal body of unawareness, which is the seed body of awakened consciousness, all the way through the mind and deep worked in deeper into the background field are void which is coextensive which what is called Turiya?
Can we go beyond Turiya, all the way beyond consciousness itself where there is nothing to be experienced, nothing gained and nothing lost, nothing to do, nothing to want? And ultimately there is no I am, there is no self That, there is no void, there is no nothingness, there is no witness, and nothing witnessed. All of that has been thrown away and the Investigation of Self ends, with no conclusion, nothing to be grasped or nothing to grasp.
Then once again, the only truth is that there is no truth, the map is not the terrain, all the intense investigations and descriptions ultimately capture nothing. With pursuing the description of ‘Los Angeles’, we get down to exploring the atoms that make up individuals in the dirt that holds them, and getting even more deeply to the emptiness within and around Adams in the quantum structures therein, until ultimately are looking has become so precise and so penetrating, that there is nothing there.
Then we are left with nothingness. Then our minds no longer work. Thoughts do not flow to the surface. We no longer question. Our minds are silent. Our rest is complete. We are at peace having discovered that there is no truth, in fact there is not even any terrain to be investigated, because ultimately the terrain itself is also empty, devoid of characteristic, devoid of quality, devoid of existence itself, devoid of time. All are dissolved retention, through awareness, of ever deeper levels of the increasingly transparent self.
Concepts are at best “Convenient Fictions” as described by my old friend, Lee Werth, retired philosophy professor from Cleveland. That is, terms like Los Angeles, the federal government, Congress, medical science, atoms, self, I, God, are quite alright to use for superficial everyday conversation, but are not the city itself, nor are the 535 individual senators and congressmen, their offices, salaries, and payees of tens of thousands of lobbyists, with families, ambitions, and actual bills being constructed, lobbied and voted on actually well-described by the word 'congress'. The closer the analysis, the more refined the description such that we better understand parts, but not the whole thing. There is no Congress, no medical science as a whole, just individual researchers, trials, evaluated studies, FDA approved, etc., etc. But we can use these terms as generalities in certain circumstances, but when used in others, allow stupid people to think they know, when they know nothing.