Truth without action only creates propositional concepts. It’s our consistent actions that produce positive change that leads to freedom from habitual reaction and toward happiness.
For much of my adult life, I sought to understand and teach what I perceived to be truths. Religious truths, philosophical truths, practical truths, etc. I had developed a belief that some absolute, independent truth existed that could be discovered, applied, and taught.
It took me a long time to realize that Truth, in this manner of thinking, was nothing more than the creation of particular human groups/communities who perceive reality in a particular way. Find a different group of people who perceive reality differently, and you’ll find another set of “Truths”.
“Truth” in this way of thinking is a statement or system of beliefs about the way things truly are. These truths are rooted in stories or teachings that some choose to accept intellectually. Religions, philosophies, political systems, etc. all rely on this understanding of Truth as a foundational element of their system.
There is a statement in the New Testament attributed to Jesus – “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The problem with this statement, though, is that truth never sets anyone free. By it’s very nature, any perceived “Truth” keeps you bound to a system of belief that may or may not be beneficial to you.
Here’s what sets you free. Action
It is your actions on what you belief to be true that sets you free.
The problem is, many of us hold on to beliefs and truths that are keeping us limited and bound to the way things are. Until we identify what beliefs are holding us back, we’ll keep believing the same “Truths” and getting the same results.
If you want to produce positive change in your life, start by identifying the limiting beliefs that come in the form of that internal voice.
I am currently reading a book by Stephen Batchelor called Buddhism without Beliefs in which he explores Buddhist philosophy from a non-religious perspective. It’s quite good and reflects much the same way I approached Christianity as a minister and scholar.
The foundational teachings of Buddhism are often referred to as the Four Noble Truths.
There’s that word again.
They way these Four Truths are normally phrased makes it seem as if they are four things that you should believe it; four statements to ascribe to. I’ll not share the traditional statements here since they are easy enough to locate online.
But the way Batchelor discusses these Four “Truths” makes clear that they are not propositional concepts to be intellectually accepted, but rather claims that require action.
This got me thinking about what it is that really drives change in our lives. What really shapes who we are, how we act, and what we do with our lives.
It’s certainly not what we believe to be true.
Simply believing something to be ‘true’ is of little value unless it impacts our actions.
Your actions demonstrate your belief more than your words.
Rather than four concepts that should be believed, they are four realities that require action. Without appropriate action, these concepts mean nothing.
Having spent many years as an academic, I am accustomed to thinking, writing about, and teaching theory without really needing to actually act on it. Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to realize that any real growth will only take place when I act on what I’ve learned.
So the challenge for me, and my challenge for you, is to identify what “Truths” we are holding on to and be willing to let them go if they are holding us back. And take action on what we believe to be true because it’s in your actions that you’ll find freedom.