Sometimes, I get asked the question about seeking the Truth. Does yoga help is seeking the Truth. Does the practice of yoga unmask the Truth? Is yoga a journey to unravel the Truth? My usual response is that yoga keeps me healthy and meditation helps me stay in touch with reality, and that the Truth is not what I am seeking out actively at this time. I provide this answer more as a way of trying to guide the discussion towards personal experiences (which is where any truth, if at all, can be found) and away from general philosophical debate. In my definition, a universal truth, if one exists, should be one that stands the test of time, community/religion and nation and is true to all living beings (hopefully not just human, but at least all human for the sake of argument) and can be determined with certainty through a set of verifiable steps.
In my experience, every truth is simply relative. Every truth is applicable within certain parameters. Every truth serves a particular function and loses relevance when taken out of its native context. In practical reality, a truth is valid only within the context in which it is set as true.
The left side is true only as long as there is a right side. If you turned around, what was at your right is now on your left, what you thought was left earlier is now right. If you belong to a religion, your truth maybe different from your neighbor belonging to a different religion, and his truth maybe even more different from his neighbor following no religion. Just the fact that different religions espouse even slightly different paths makes it clear that there may not be a single true path. There may even be unexplored paths, and newer religions can come up with newer paths. Even more importantly, the fact that people don’t follow a religion and yet continue to live demonstrates that truth exists within and outside religions. The fact that different religions subscribe to different ideas about life and the after-life and other aspects of existence also yield to the same truth; that there is no universal truth. This is, in fact, no different than two different corporations espousing differing sets of core values and principles as a means to achieve corporate success and successive profitability. One corporation may follow a path to dare; another a path to serve. Corporations that swore on cosmetics thrive making electronic products. I see that the same reality persists in corporations too; that there seems to be no universal truth.
As I sift through more examples, I know it is fairly easy to arrive at the fact that the truth in question is only true in its little context and that is struggles to survive outside context just as fish struggle outside water.
However, what strikes me as stunning and scary is how people have come to believe so firmly that what they believe to be true is actually universally true; across communities and time, while in reality their truth is just true in that moment and for their community. In religion and communities, truths are evolving. Women belonging to a community have been chased down as witches; women of another community have been dis-allowed into their temples; elsewhere, women of yet another community have not been dictated on what their should wear, and yet, even within those religions, there are numerous examples of women being respected and treated with dignity worthy of a regular living being at the same point in time during which such atrocities were committed against them.
Every time I go deep into this subject, I feel I am farther from finding anything resembling a universal truth. For every truth that I can think of, I am able to see how it would not be true from another being’s perspective. The only things that strikes to me as true is the fact that real people with feelings are being managed and practically manipulated by those who peddle age-old fears and myths or new-age mantras and jargon. People with real feelings continue to seek eternal truth and continue to live in the dissatisfaction of being eluded by the eternal truth; that eternal truth which they have been told by their teachers and gurus as most worthy of finding. To a large extent, I find that the existence of real dissatisfaction as a fairly universal truth, though dissatisfaction itself can be reduced through great patience, care and compassion.
Everybody’s truth is theirs to keep and enjoy personally as long as it is not causing grief to people around them. Everybody has ideas and their own subjective understanding of their truth. Everybody has their own subjective understanding of their problems too. Literally, I mean every body (going beyond just human bodies) in all the above sentences. Every body is trying to find a way to die peacefully, with lesser burden than today; lesser suffering than today and greater peace than today. We may all be connected; yet we are destined to die alone.
The moment a truth causes pain and grief, to anyone, it loses is value and needs to be re-evaluated, changed and adjusted. I feel understanding this can help us lessen our attachments to our truths, thereby loosening the grip of truth over us allowing us to accommodate more beings more peacefully.
Of course, science ascends religious and community truths every day because science produces repeatable truths, and hardly makes a claim to any overarching truth. The steam engine moves the train forward, but has nothing to say about how to fly an airplane. Though it is a truth as in it solves a problem, it is not universal as it does not claim to solve any other problem.
To me, I see no such thing as a universal truth. Honestly, that may be the biggest hoax of all. Maybe in place of seeking the truth, we should simply start seeing the truth!