last year

The Pursuit of Truth Is Violence

It’s no secret that I have a history of extreme obsessiveness

So it probably comes as no surprise when I tell you that I was serious about getting to the bottom of things.

Let me give you an example. I became obsessed with yoga. Not in the casual sense of obsessed. Not merely “I’m going to yoga class and then pranayama every single day” kind of obsessed.

Not merely “In addition to the yoga class and pranayama I’m also going to stare at a candle flame for long periods of time and recite mantras for hours every day” kind of obsessed.

Not merely “In addition to all that, I’m also going to stick a string through my nostril and pull the end through my mouth so I can clean back there and I’m going to swallow a cloth and pull it back up to clean my stomach” kind of obsessed.

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I was consumed. I read everything I could get my hands on. I went to every “authentic” yoga- or Hindu-themed things I could find.

I went to an all-day event with an Indian yoga-enlightenment-spiritual master so “authentic” even his translator needed a translator.

And I had to bring a coconut. It was one of the rules.

I attended pujas.

Ghee lamps.

The whole nine yards.

And, along with all of that, I became obsessed with eating a purely “sattvic” diet.

After all, I reasoned that I was trying to be as “sattvic” as possible in my actions, my thoughts, my intents, etc. So I didn’t want to screw it all up by eating, God-forbid, garlic or something terrible like that, which would throw off my spiritual energy.

If you’re not familiar with the idea, sattva refers to one of the three gunas in the yogic/Hindu/Vedantic system. The gunas are energies or attributes. Sattva is viewed as the energy of “purity”. Rajas is dynamic. Tamas is dull and violent.

In many schools of philosophy, people are encouraged to cultivate sattva.

Some yogic schools of thought take that to an extreme.

I took it still further.

I wanted to know what foods are entirely and always sattvic in their nature and what means of eating these foods is entirely and always sattvic.

I poured over lists I found in books and on the internet.

The lists didn’t always agree.

I meditated upon it. I read and re-read the lists. I read and re-read about those making the lists to determine their authority, their purity. I meditated upon it again.

Round and round and round I went.

I was determined to get to the bottom of it. I wanted the truth.

to discover what should have been obvious: there was nothing sattvic about my entire attitude and relationship with life/myself.

Talk about violence and dullness. Tamasic through and through.

The pursuit of truth seems so noble.

But it is a form of violence. In fact, I think it is the heart of violence.

Because it objectifies truth and the one who is searching for it.

It creates division where there is none.

It makes the end more important than the means.

It overlooks what is immediate and obvious and real.

It is ignorance in the most basic sense.

I’ve come to discover that truth is not an object. The division is a fiction borne of ignorance. The means are more important than the end. Because the end is a fiction and the means are now.

And if we want to say that there is truth, if we want to give a name to it, that is fine. But then “truth” is this right now.

Before it can be objectified. Before it can be ignored. Before the whole make-believe of truth out there.

Yet it’s ungraspable. So that whole paradigm of me searching for truth, acquiring truth, possessing truth turns out to be false.

My goodness, what an incredible, unthinkable, unbelievable, amazing, mysterious gift. Aliveness, truth, this. Already, indifferently here.

The ignorant pursuit of truth is all that seems to obscure truth.

And it cannot even do that. Because as soon as I stop, it’s clear that nothing ever obscured truth. Truth just looked like ignorance and suffering.

As I wrote in a recent post, to be willing to truly stop, to give up, to make no effort, to relax the conditioned self-protective mechanism against life happening, to release that fixation on thought and feeling and problem – that goes against the momentum of a lifetime. It goes against the identity I have mistaken myself to be.

And it is the most blessed thing that has ever happened in my life.

I don’t mean that it happened once in the past.

It happens now.

Just by looking honestly.

Just by admitting that I can’t figure it out.

I have failed. I can only fail. And that failing is a gift.

P.S. – This post was partially inspired by another blog post I published today on the website for the podcast I do with Luis Campos. You can read that post here if you’d like:


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