Your Search for Truth

Posted on August 26, 2014 by Robert Ringer

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Human beings have debated the ultimate purpose of life throughout recorded history.  If one wanted to participate in this debate, he could make a persuasive argument that the ultimate purpose of life is to search for truth.

I say search rather than find, because to find truth in the broadest sense of the word would mean that one would have to know everything, and I think we can stipulate that omniscience and human beings don’t match up too well.

All actions, regardless of their nature, produce results.  A bank robber gets results.  A person who refuses to work and goes on welfare gets results.  An individual who is inconsiderate and rude gets results.  But these aren’t the kind of results most of us are after.

What we want are positive results, and positive results tend to flow from truth-based actions.  Negative results, on the other hand, tend to flow from actions based on falsehoods or delusions.

Even if the whole world goes insane, you have a holy responsibility to yourself to perpetually search for truth.  When all about you are losing their heads, the surest way to keep yours is to be vigilant about basing your actions on truth.

I’m not talking here about the search for truth or a search for truth.  What I’m referring to is your search for truth.  Whenever I write an article, it represents the results of my search for truth.  Whether you accept some, any, or all of my opinions, I will have accomplished my purpose if the results of my search for truth inspire you to embark upon, or intensify, your search for truth.

Truth is the best friend you will ever have, because, unlike people, it will never desert you in your time of need.  Think of truth as a compass that points the way to actions that are in your long-term best interest.

This is why your search for truth must be ongoing and in conjunction with an action-oriented life.  If you ever feel as though the Higher Power has not come through for you, it could be because your actions have not been in accordance with truth.

Unfortunately, truth is not an easy proposition.  For one thing, truth can sometimes make you unpopular.  In extreme cases, it has even cost people their lives.  Bruno (burned at the stake as a heretic) and Socrates (forced to drink poison after being accused of corrupting youth by questioning tradition) are two well-known examples of this.

As a baseline, then, anyone searching for truth must desire truth more than popularity.

As we all know, fools are often among the most popular people in society, which is a good reason not to allow your search for truth to be stifled by the widespread delusions of the masses.  This is precisely why you must learn to question everything, especially so-called conventional wisdom.

In the words of Buddha, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

All of life is based on universal principles, or laws.  We cannot create or alter universal principles; we can only try to discover them, and, once discovered, find ways to use them to our advantage.  A universal principle is a natural law that has always existed and will continue to exist as long as there is a universe.  A universal principle is the essence of truth.

The foundational principle of the universe, as well as all aspects of secular life, is well known to everyone:  actions have consequences.  If I push you (an action), something will happen; i.e., there will be a consequence.  You may fall down, you may stumble, or, at the very least, you will feel pressure against your body.  You also may get mad at me, walk away, or push me back.

The point is that I cannot escape the reality that my action, no matter how small, will have consequences.  Where I start to invite problems into my life is when I delude myself into believing that I can push you without there being any consequence at all.

Believing that one can create his own principles is a futile and dangerous way to live life.  Of course, a person has a perfect right to go on believing whatever he wants to believe, but truth isn’t discriminatory.  It will mete out negative consequences just as harshly to a well-meaning, ignorant individual as to one who is malicious and self-delusive.  Not once has truth excused anyone for being well meaning.

Put another way, truth is Stoic in nature; it doesn’t concern itself with human intentions.  Truth overwhelms everything and everyone in its path.  It matters not whether a violation of truth is intentional or a result of poor reasoning powers.  In either case, truth yields the same consequences.

In the short term, of course, truth can be violated.  A rational life, however, is based on taking actions that result in long-term success.  And, fortunately, history has repeatedly demonstrated that time is extremely kind to truth.

As Winston Churchill put it, “The truth is incontrovertible.  Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

In simple terms, the more often your actions are based on truthful premises, the more likely you are to achieve success in both your business and personal life.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

21 responses to “Your Search for Truth”

  1. johan berger says:

    …but , in the end, there it is—may be the temporary(?) truth reached in the latest Gaza-Israel war – now made irrespective of length.. Finally, Hamas discovered that Egyptian pressure and Israeli might was too strong..
    Experience is a tough master when learning life's lessons, but as stated by Osama bin Laden 'us muslims prefer death to life,' so who knows if the IDF will not yet again hone their (s)kills when the Grim Reaper comes knocking – around 2019—

  2. american real says:

    Interesting how most of the people in the two populations (Israeli and Arab) are missing the one, lasting ingredient for peace: following the teachings and principles of the "Prince of Peace", Jesus Christ — the one who understood the true depth of the human soul, who brought hope and healing to humanity. There will NEVER be any lasting peace on the region based on political means; it is only when these people groups understand and revere the sacredness of each precious life.

    I just returned from a 2-week tour of Israel, and the only ones who had any hope, any softening of the heart where the Christian Arabs and the Messianic Jews (those who put their faith in Christ and look to Him as their hope and redemption.) Just sayin'…. saw it with my own eyes.

  3. Jim Hallett says:

    How "true!" – pun intended. One of the reasons I am an anarcho-libertarian is because I have seen over and over and over again how aggression has disastrous results, and I realize the truth that each person is free to run their own life. I also know how much I don't know, so like to keep myself open to new information and experinces that can be verified by my "inner knower." I just have to be careful not to think that the delusions of the ego are the same thing. One quote that Reagan often used (not sure who first said it and in what context) that I like is, "It is not so much what one doesn't know that is the problem, but that so much of what one thinks he knows just "ain't" so!" Many religions have created problems by forcing people to accept things on their word or some other authority instead of encouraging would-be followers to verify what is true for them. Ultimately, we all have to live our own truth, and when we don't, lots of problems ensue. Thanks for the article, and as always, a chance for us to pause and ponder the important stuff!

    • J. Krishnamurti wrote and taught, "Follow no one, follow Self". I think he meant our Higher Self that recognizes "truth". Rlated to that, he also talks about "Tentativity of belief". He said he believed an idea UNTIL he found something better to replace it. Religionists don't like that kinda talk! Reinold Nieburh (sp?) wrote, "the question WHY is its own best answer", maybe meaning that questioning begets more questions and potential multiple answers and as a consequence deepens our thinking, or quest for "truth". A human problem is being addicted to CERTAINTIES. A more productive way of thinking, I BELIEVE, is to live and open-ended intellectual life holding tentative beliefs. Mr. Ringer is a great intellectual stimulator. He helps us deepen our thinking, if we take his lead and take off from there. The purpose of human life? To EVOLVE our SELF. Many ways, (MANY PATHS), to do that. (The Gita teaches Many Paths to the One, or Source, or God. No one way as religionists would have us belief. But, I am speaking of those of us capable of reflection, of thinking. I don't know about those who don't seem to have much intellectual depth.

  4. Kevin says:

    Desirable though it seems to orient our lives around the search for 'truth', the problem is going to be that the prevailing world views will trip us up. Naturalistic philosophers like Dennett teach us that there is no objective content or information to semantics, so irrespective of whether such a commodity as 'truth' exists, we do not possess the means to engage with it, relate to it. And postmodernists deny that there are, in fact, any universal truths, merely a shifting melee of perceptions and opinions – so there is nothing there, anchored in a kind of concrete reality that we can agree on in the first place. In order for there to be 'truth', there has to be a self-existent reality outside of ourselves, that we can orient ourselves towards, otherwise we are just meat machines doing whatever comes naturally.

    • american real says:

      Hmm…no absolute Truth, eh? That means rape is fine, then, if it's the "Truth" of that perpetrator?

      • Kevin says:

        Yeah, that's the implication if either Naturalism or Postmodernism are 'true'. Now, I don't accept either worldview, but they do now pretty much dominate our liberal education system. Given those two sets of presuppositions, the best you can conclude is that rape is really just a bit inconvenient, or perhaps undesirable given a set of norms that society may choose for itself at any given time. Nothing is 'true' because there is no 'truth'. It's a horrible perspective, and very few people are able to live consistently with it.

      • Rodwell rjfaulkner says:

        Robert says: "But these aren’t the kind of results most of us are after. What we want are POSITIVE results, and positive results tend to flow from truth-based actions." There is NOTHING truth-based about rape!

    • Reminds me of how the Logical Positivists kind of ruined tradition Philosophy that asks the Big Questions regarding what is True, Good and Real. Now Logicians quibble and don't promote what I consider Real Thinking, or intellectual exploration… Pragmatically.

      • Kevin says:

        Hi Richard. Good point, but in a way your observation is consistent with the presuppositions of Naturalism. If all there is, is physical stuff, and if thinking is simply a biochemical/electrical function of what physical stuff does, then there is no meaning even to the idea of 'asking Big Questions'. The brain simply becomes an organ that works on sensory data so that an organism (or human being) can interact with its environment in such a way as to allow Natural Selection to preserve those characteristics that are more apt for survival. This seems to be the way in which Naturalism is being understood and applied by Dawkins, Dennett and many of their acolytes, and it results in a highly mechanistic view of brain function. In such a context, what is 'Truth'? Can we even know it? And what point is it for physical stuff, doing physical things, to even be thinking anyway?

  5. bill says:

    excellent post as always robert. i have come to the conclusion that most people simply hate the truth and those who tell it to them, no matter how much they insist the opposite.

    “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

    ― H.L. Mencken

  6. J. Clark says:

    You said,,,I say search rather than find, because to find truth in the broadest sense of the word would mean that one would have to know everything,

    Sorry, I know SOME truth in the broadest sense of the word and I am dumber than dirt.

  7. Robby Bonfire says:

    I call the vigilant pursuit of truth maxims "The Correct Thought Principle," with it's action complement being "Correct Thought Action." (CTP and CTA.) Seems to me that when we think, and apply correct principles, we simplify our life. That, to me, is the highest plateau of gracious and successful living. Take a gander at the news of the day, any day, and you will see that almost all the stories chronicle people's falling by the wayside where it comes to their values and their actions.

  8. Glenville says:

    The ultimate TRUTH is, I guess, that there is A Beginning and an End to all things and afte the End… There is a Beginning agaagain…. The CYCLE of life and death. In the midst of al yhis there is GOOD and EVIL… so we choose and face the consequences

    • I think the Ancient Philosophers of India had ti right when suggesting that everything is cyclical: first CREATION, then PRESERVATION, and then DESTRUCTION, over and over again in general. Now SEEMS LIKE we are in a period of DESTRUCTION, as we move toward WWIII and another round in the universal fight between Good and Evil. I was age 9 when WWII ended, and later came a generation of twits who set the scene for WWIII.Maybe I will live long enough to see the horrendous beginnings of the one to come. No discipline and teaching of Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, etc., begets a generation of conflict… seems to me.

      • Robby Bonfire says:

        As regards the reference to "the universal fight between good and evil," this is a simplistic biblical interpretation of what is wrong with the world. In fact, all sides in a dispute or a war think they are on the side of the "just" cause. Even terrorists who slaughter innocents by the tens of thousands every year, think "Allah is on our side," and that He has commanded them to exterminate unbelievers.

        Activist nations and groups seeing themselves as being inherently "right" have done more harm to this planet than all the other ills, combined. If the USA could start to see itself as a detached third party instead of as the "savior for freedom and democracy in the world," the lives of all of us would measurably improve. The world beyond our shores is irretrievably lost, so how about mending our home fences, for a change? And leave our participation in" the battle between good and evil" to the fairy tale spinners.

  9. Serge says:

    I experience my own truth and freedom from the words of Buddha in the article, " Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense". In today's society and politics, I hear some of the biggest lies done by some of the best acting. Reasoning and logic skills are a must for seeking out the truth.

  10. george says:

    I had a friend from childhood who was called a habitual liar by a co-worker.
    I thought about it and realized she was right. I got rid of the bastard with one swing of the axe.
    My problems in life were reduced immediately, by at least 30-40%. In an internal fight of truth vs emotion, or loyalty to an unworthy person do yourself a favor. Throw the rat overboard. i do that evry year now. I think on 12-31-year who was the biggest troublemaker last year? My goodness the results have been miraculous.

  11. Phiosophizer says:

    No one mentioned this one yet so I will posit it amid all the others : "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father except thru Me".

    I find that quote the most interesting of all, for Jeshua of Nazareth is the only one to claim Diety and to be The Truth. But did he even live, and did he really say that, or did somebody just make it up and throw it out there? But what does this mean for Humanity?

    Nothing if you are not a believer, and Everything if you are. But can that be true? Can both of these opposites be true, or is one true and the other false? Or are both false?

    I wish you all "good luck" on your search, and if anyone here finds The Truth, please let the rest of us know! But there will be very little convincing because everyone goes his own way, and everyone thinks they are right…

  12. eduart says:

    Truth, that you referring is a notion you use to guide a human actions. Even when truth hits you, reff."Armenian genocide" ,1915, is just a subject that no one talks,acknowledge or even Understand that existed.