Independent Investigation of Truth
Various forms of excesses prevent us from finding and maintaining that ever elusive balance. Give and take, action and reaction, push and pull, constitutes the basis of most of the problems facing society today. “All things in moderation” is not just a nice mantra, it is an essential part of the solution to the chaos that reigns.
In this age of instant gratification, 24-hour news, and social media, people are quick to jump on a bandwagon of ideals that seem to agree with their principles–without ever truly investigating the claims. The bandwagon mentality feeds into rampant disarray and people are often carried away passionately abandoning balance and never fully understanding the issues at hand. Moderation is nowhere to be found. Anger and vehemence dominate. The propaganda machine is alive and well, in fact, it is working overtime. The truth is often lost. In effect, a competitive atmosphere has been conceived and well defended. The result is a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other. In short, we are out of balance.
The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behoveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should enquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.
~Bahá’u’lláh (Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, Ṭarázát, The sixth Ṭaráz)
Sadly, people we think we can trust, those we depend on to report the facts, are just as caught up in the abovementioned discord, and as a result are corrupted. Ultimately they report events that further their own agendas, leaving valuable information on the table, information that may well shed light on the reality of things. More and more often, information is broadcasted on the news, latched onto by the masses, and integrated into the consciousness of our world. Only later for us to find out that it was not true to begin with. Unfortunately, the damage is done. People have absorbed the information, accepted it as fact, and incorporated into their very way of being. This is a tremendous disservice to all of us.
What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth… should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?
~Bahá’u’lláh (The Kitáb-i-Íqán, Part 1)
Increased patience on our part is required. Today, more than ever, the principle of the independent investigation of truth is necessary. We must do our research. Take a balanced approach. Find the source and understand the context of where the facts originated. The fact is that our job of ascertaining the truth has changed. It has gotten more complex. And albeit difficult, independently investigating the truth is essential if we are to contribute to an ever-advancing civilization.
We all like to think we keep an open mind and can change our opinions in the light of new evidence, but most of us seem to be geared to making up our minds very quickly. Then we process further evidence not with an open mind but with a filter, only acknowledging the evidence that backs up our original impression. It is too easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that being right is more important than being open to what might be. If we practice detachment from our thoughts we learn to observe them as though we are taking a bird’s eye view of our own thinking. When we do this, we might find that our thinking belongs to an older, and different, story to the one we are now living.
Here is the good news. If we truly seek out the truth for ourselves, we may well discover that we are not as far apart on most issues as we are led to believe. It is not a secret that we all lead busy lives and rarely have time to investigate everything for ourselves. Further, we should be able to trust others. However, we owe it to ourselves, our children, and future generations to slow down, step back, and independently investigate reality. In an address to a group of friends gathered in Massachusetts in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá stated:
God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another’s ears nor comprehend with another’s brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision. Then will your eyes be filled with illumination, face to face you will behold the reality of God and your heart become completely purified from the dross of ignorance, reflecting the glories and bounties of the Kingdom.
~The Promulgation of Universal Peace, #97
Our path of evolution is illumined. The future is ours to write. And God has given us “the eye of investigation” so that we may “see and recognize truth”.
In part 3 of this blog series I will explore how transcending retribution and humanity’s collective coming of age are building blocks to a more balanced society.