Wandering soul, wandering, wandering,
Roaming down life’s endless lanes:
Glimpsing dreams around our corners,
Touching truths at all our borders,
Learning all that life ordains.
Wandering soul, wistfully wandering,
Praying for Heaven’s bolt of light:
Longing to bestow your wisdom,
Hoping to de-bar life’s prison,
Trying to restore our sight.
Wandering soul, please stop wandering;
Your earthly work is not in vain:
We’re ready to revere your guidance,
Feel your presence deep inside us,
Yearning to be whole again.
We have all heard comments similar to:
“Think outside the box.”
“(S)he sees life through rose colored glasses.”
“Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.”
All are references to the filters through which we view the world and our place in it. What are these filters? How are they created? Can they be changed?
Our world view depends upon what we have learned from our communities, our families, our formal education systems. Each minute detail of our lives teaches us something. Our experiences direct us toward our beliefs and perceptions, helping us to create our personal truth. While many others in our communities may share aspects of the same personal truth, our truth is unique to each of us. No two of us are totally of one mind, no two of us perceive life in quite the same way. Our sight is narrowed, filtered if you will, by our unique combination of experiences.
Does this mean we are stuck with a particular world view throughout our lives? Certainly not! We all have many opportunities to revise, revisit, reconsider our thoughts and beliefs. We never stop learning and incorporating new perspectives into our personal truth. In fact we do so frequently, often in small ways.
I recall a conversation I had many years ago that began when a friend of mine declared, “I learned long ago not to trust women.” I asked him how he had come to such a far reaching conclusion. After he recounted several of his negative experiences, I thought for a moment before responding.
“What would you learn if you had a car accident?” I finally asked him.
“What does that have to do with the stories I’ve just told you?” he demanded with astonishment.
“Well,” I began, “some people who have an accident may learn to drive more carefully. Depending on the circumstances, some may learn to pay more attention to maintaining their cars. Others still may learn driving is so dangerous that they decide to stop driving altogether. What would you learn from having an accident?”
He got it. Based on our filters, we all take something different away from each of our experiences. While my friend didn’t have a change of heart, this is a small example of how one filter became less opaque.
Often our filters aren’t even recognized as such. But every so often one jumps out to slap us in the face! This happened on a grand scale during the 1960s race riots in the USA. As many African Americans and their sympathizers raged over racial inequality, our whole nation was forced to think about our personal beliefs concerning racism. We had to acknowledge a filter existed and reconsider aspects of our personal truth. Then for better or worse, our filters and truths changed as a result. Today, Americans are facing a similar wake-up call.
But we are human; we still have our filters, we still have our ever changing personal truths. Is that all we can hope for, all we can expect from ourselves? Or is there a greater truth, a truth beyond our filters, an unchanging truth that has the power to reorder and transcend our personal truth? Is there Universal Truth?
If it exists, given our history, it seems obvious that such Truth is not accessible to us through human endeavor and rationale alone. Authors who address the concept often speak from either a religious, moral, scientific or mathematic perspective to substantiate their claims. But no one offers anything more than theory about the nature of the universe itself- which means we presently cannot speak with absolute certainty to the existence of Universal Truth.
So yes, we are left with the task of defining truth individually as persons living within the larger world community. Perhaps our truths will eventually merge into HUMAN TRUTH. The wisdom available to us through the holiness of our humanity can lead the way.