So, God and the Devil are trekking together down one of Heaven’s more treacherous pearly paths one winter morning. God has his hands cupped tightly in front of him.
“Whatcha got in there?” the Devil inquires.
“Nothing you’d be interested in,” God answers.
God replies, “I don’t think so. There’s little enough of this in the world already without you looking to further reduce the supply.”
“How about if I promise not to reduce the supply, then?” the Devil replies.
“Except you always find some weaselly way around your promises,” God says, clutching his hands even tighter.
“Scout’s Honor,” the Devil says, raising his right hand and tail simultaneously, and giving God his most vulnerable, most innocent look.
Reluctantly, God begins to slowly open his hands.
“Ahhh!” the Devil exclaims, his eyes suddenly ablaze. “Truth! Here let me take that and organize it for you!”
If there’s one thing the study of the brain has taught me over the last half dozen years, it’s that the enormous complexity involved in each of our neural networks makes organizing Truth a doomed enterprise from the get-go. There can be no optimal, organized, one-size-fits-all: religion, government, education, medicine or weight-awareness program. We are each too complex for such uniformity. When I learned that my very first truth teacher, Jiddhu Krishnamurti, had disbanded his own growing spiritual organization early on and declared “Truth is a pathless land,” I think he was reflecting a basic neural reality. It certainly rang true for me when I learned of it, and it rings even more true for me now.
When the Truth is True
So, what that essentially means is that Truth is only true, if and when it’s true for me and my own unique neuro-amalgamation. And likewise, Truth is only true for our kids when something is actually true for them. Where I got into a lot of confusion as a parent was in the many instances when I unconsciously assumed that what was true for me should be true for my daughter. For example, about how safe the world is. My world is a very dangerous one. It’s a world that requires that children be vigilantly protected at all times. It never occurred to me that what my daughter might need to be protected from was … me! From my own conditioned, unconscious, distorted, fear-based view of the world. For starters.
While a lot can be intuited and inferred about what’s true for our kids simply by living with them, much more can be determined from … deliberately observing them. And learning to listen deeply to them, while simultaneously being committed to skillfully attending to our own emotional reactivity (Which seems to be a life’s work, actually!). It helps if we can handle the truth.
When the Truth is False
In my experience my body is able to scope out what’s true and what’s false much better than my brain. A recent example: a mortgage banker was explaining to me why his $5000 refi fee was really only $3400. His pitch was that because I would not be making the next $1600 payment to my current bank while the existing loan was paid off and the new loan was put in place, I was saving that money. That claim immediately raised some tension in my stomach, but all I could do was listen as he explained how all his fees would be absorbed in little more than a year by the savings produced by lower payments. Later, when I looked at the detailed expense breakdown, it was obvious that I would not actually be missing a payment; I would simply be paying it in an extra month tacked onto the back end of the new loan.
And it makes sense that I would first feel the untruth of that banker’s statement in my stomach. I’ve already written here about the 100,000 neurons that make up our Second Brain. And things that we can’t stomach – like untruths – often register there or in the neuronal clusters that transmit The Heart’s Code. The challenge for many of us is to grow enough neural fibers from those organs to sufficiently robust centers in the brain where those signals are received so that we can honor and attend to what they might be trying to tell us. (Some further life’s work for many of us).
The Truth Organized
One reason that Truth becomes such a fertile playground for the Devil when we attempt to organize it I think, is that it becomes harder to stay in touch with our own inner organ truth detectors. It’s much easier to be swayed by my brain’s intellectual authority allied with like authority delivered with great assurance by similar brains. And when one banker brain divorces itself from stomach and heart time after time with clients and with each other, the result is the world-wide financial morass we’re currently trying to extricate ourselves from. And when leaders of governments separate brain from stomach and heart, the result will invariably be much like the disorder that is currently unfolding in Northern Africa. Truth apparently wants to have itself set free. And there will be Hell to pay when it’s not.
And then there’s the Truth of Neuroscience …