Life and Its Mysteries, by Frank L. Hammer, , at sacred-texts.com
There never has been a time when the desire to know the truth was so prevalent and strong. There never has been a time when there were so many intelligent men and women who were not content with surface knowledge, with the appearance of things or doctrines based on personal authority. They seek to penetrate into the hidden causes of things. In this advancement many mistakes will be made, much will be discarded, but it will only be the chaff which has served its purpose.
What is truth? Truth is an emanation of the Deity. Truth is the accurate verity and reality. It is the understanding by the mind of that which actually is. It is the unchangeable amid the changeable, the substance behind the shadow, the permanent within the transient form. Truth is a constant, not a variant. It cannot be added to or diminished from its sum total.
How can we know the truth? Truth has clearly defined characteristics by which it can be recognized. Among these attributes are its immutability and infallibility, which we see demonstrated in the natural and spiritual laws; for example, in chemistry, mathematics,
physics, astronomy and music. These are exact sciences because their underlying laws of truth have been discovered. They are truths to all people everywhere. Truth operates just as undeviatingly and unerringly in other departments of life, only its laws are not so well known.
Truth comes from the Deity and is dispersed through myriads of intelligences, gradually reaching men distorted and dimmed. The Source is pure, but flows through imperfect and polluted channels, as the Fountain of truth has many tributaries. Then too, the human mind is so constituted that it can perceive only a fragment of truth at a time, and that fragment faintly. Just as the naked eye cannot gaze directly at the dazzling sun, so the mind of man cannot behold truth without being veiled.
For this reason truth has always been clothed with ceremonies, mysteries, symbolism and magic. In no other way would the masses accept it; furthermore, it has to be carefully concealed otherwise they would profane as well as reject it. Hence, Christ, Buddha, Confucius and Krishna and other great teachers taught the people in parables and allegories. Even today it is necessary to employ liberal use of ceremonies and rituals to convey truth to unevolved mentalities.
Proof that basic human nature changes little, if at all, is only too evident by its antagonism towards the truth. Indeed, men's opposition to and rejection of truth remains one of life's profoundest mysteries.
[paragraph continues] Fables, folklore, legends, superstition and error find fertile soil. But of truth Albert Pike said:
"There is a singular obliquity in the human mind that makes false logic more effective than the true with nine-tenths of those who are regarded as men of intellect. . . . Each mind sees the truth, distorted through its own medium."
When we question why God made man as He has, we are going beyond our mental depth. However, if He had wanted all men to think alike, we can be sure He would have created them with that capacity. But since men are in diverse stages of unfoldment and their minds enshrouded in various degrees of ignorance, it is necessary to have different aspects of truth. Hence, the importance of being tolerant with those who choose to worship God differently than we do. All truth leads to the same goal, and all religions and philosophies which have stood the test of time contain some element of truth, otherwise they would have perished.
Rarely is it wise to uproot another from his accustomed belief or way of worship because we may think our method superior. It may be better for us, but not for him. If our religion is actually superior, the only way to convince him of it is by a superior way of living. Proselyting and propagandism are discouraged by advanced teachers, who tell us the best way to help others is to illumine the path they are in, for when a person has outgrown a particular faith or creed, it will no longer satisfy
his needs and he will of his own accord seek another more compatible with his developing nature.
The most important thing is sincerityto really believe that which we profess to believeand example still remains the most compelling of arguments. An upright life is the living truth and works directly upon other lives. Truth planted in the hearts of Jesus and Socrates grew and yielded the fruit of noble lives. But it was their lives more than their teaching that influenced the lives of others and thus their good influence lifted up millions of those who had but a faint conception of the great truths that underlie right conduct in the more intelligent.
Truth emancipates while error enslaves. Consequently, throughout the ages every effort has always been made to resist truth and keep it from the people. From the days of early Greece and before, you will find proofs of it. Socrates was put to death. Pythagoras was driven from Athens. Anaxagoras was imprisoned on account of new ideas. Galileo was twice brought before the Inquisition and sentenced by those who believed they had the power to kill truth. Descartes, Aristotle, Newton, and Harvey were persecuted and condemned by those who thought truth could be destroyed.
Despite all the efforts of its most powerful and unscrupulous enemies, truth has never been destroyed and its sum total remains the same. Those who profit from exploitation of the masses may temporarily suppress it and plunge the world into
darkness; but there are ever a few brave souls who keep the truth alive and prevent its enemies from totally extinguishing it.
There is the same hostile antagonism to truth in the year of our Lord 1945. Its exponents are silenced today just as effectively as centuries ago. The method is different, that is all. Now they are morally crucified and socially stoned; the cruelty has been transferred from the physical to the mental plane.
Its changelessness is another characteristic by which truth can always be recognized. Whatever varies with time, place, race or creed is not truth, but a temporary expedient, substitute or counterfeit. People often remark: "How truth changes!" For they discover that the "truths" of childhood and youth are no longer true in maturity and old age. Often prevalent beliefs of one century are discarded as utterly false in the succeeding one. For example, look at the school textbooks of fifty years ago and observe what radical changes have been made.
But truth does not and cannot change. If a thing is true today, it will be true tomorrow and forever. If a thing is true in the beginning, it will be true in the end.
What does change, however, is one's conception of the truth or eternal principles. As one grows older and perhaps wiser, his outlook upon life changes, his mental horizon expands, his intellectual and spiritual natures deepen and develop, and, consequently,
he sees the same truth in another light, or perceives a larger view of it. Then, too, most of us during our early years were indoctrinated with beliefs contradictory to facts.
Many absurd theories and peculiar doctrines have been promulgated under the guise of truth. But believing a thing does not make it true, nor disbelieving it, untrue. People frequently confuse laws and decrees enacted by rulers for the government of men as truths. There are no such things as "man-made" truths. Man cannot create truth; he can only discover it. That which is created by man can be destroyed by man.
Truth is absolute. It is a fallacy to suppose that truth can ever be relative. Truth never conflicts or contradicts; for truth blends with truth as light blends with light. All the religious founders taught the same truths, the same cardinal principles. The hatred and animosity existing among their followers is not due to fundamentals, but to their accretions of theologies and doctrines.
Simplicity is another of truth's characteristics. Never is truth complex of structure or difficult of comprehension; but so simple is its language that even little children can readily understand it. On the other hand error is always contradictory and so abstruse no one can make any sense out of it. The pure and undefiled mind of a child is a perfect receptacle for truth and, consequently, its perception of it is accurate and acute. Conversely, the minds of
adults adulterate all they contact, including the truth; for truth, like water that flows through impure channels, becomes polluted and contaminated. So, if we are desirous of obtaining truth undefiled, we must keep its channel, the mind, as free as possible from obstructionsunclean, selfish, intolerant and hostile thoughts.
Moreover, truth, like a mathematical equation, always proves itself. All truth is demonstrable. St. Paul the Apostle once exhorted his brethren to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good," and a better precept never was given. Faith is required to live, and most of us have more faith than we realize. Yet faith is no substitute for knowledge, but should be used in conjunction with it. And, when we are looking for actual facts concerning this universe, we should not be satisfied with faith alone, but should endeavor, by all the means at our command, to see whether the things represented by faith are truly as they are represented. Otherwise we are apt to accumulate more fables than facts. Better an ounce of truth than a ton of theory.
Faith has the same relation to knowledge that a scaffolding has to a building. When the structure has been completed, we can dispense with the scaffolding. And so it is with life; we need faith until we know. We must rely upon faith where we cannot see and when we do not understand.
Departure from truth results in intellectual suicide. The inevitable fact that no one believes or trusts the habitual liar is bad enough; but this is not the only or the worst penalty for intellectual dishonesty. His faculty of discernment becomes so blunted from misuse that he can no longer recognize truth. Hence, he is victimized by those who practice deception and dishonesty. And, as he is unable to distinguish truth from untruth, he often follows false prophets who lead him astray, aye, even to destruction and to death.
Those who know the truth and live a lie close the door of heaven upon themselves; while those who live a falsity believing it to be truth will attract to themselves those who will enlighten them.
There are those who insist it to be of minor import whether their beliefs are true or not. Such people can be likened to the foolish man of the Scriptures, of whom the Master spoke: "A wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock." "A foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it."
He who builds his house of life on truth builds upon an eternal foundation. He who builds his house of life on error builds upon a shifting and
unstable foundation. Eventually, all those who pre-ter or mistake falsities for truth must retrace their steps and enter the lofty and enduring road that leads toward God. The truth or secret of things is revealed from within.
Neither time nor clime alter Truth.