Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A LIE is not just saying what isn't true but also saying more than is true. Just a few moments ago I feigned caring for a colleague who called in sick. "Oh, you poor thing!" "How high was your temperature?" "See a doctor." "We miss you, get well soon." Blah blah blah! Though by no means did I wish her ill, I did feel somewhat annoyed that I'm going to be doing her work today and was hardly as nurturing as I appeared to be. Nonetheless, I played the game. We all do it...saying more than we feel just to make life simpler.

Then there is the honest-to-God TRUTH that we believe to be the opposite of lies and pretence. And yet, even this truth based on actual facts and feelings, should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because something is our belief does not mean it is the truth even if the evidence is in our favour. The facts keep changing in a constantly evolving game so open to interpretation and fallacy. Today's blog post written by me in all honesty right now may be a lie by tomorrow.

It's a bit like Zhuangzi's taoist parable: "Last night I dreamt that I was a beautiful butterfly fluttering through the fields. Now I awaken. My question is this; how do I know if I am Zhuangzi, who dreamt himself a butterfly, or if I am a butterfly now dreaming himself Zhuangzi?"

All we can know for certain is that we exist... Everything else is just our interpretation of this existence depending upon our perspective. Reminds me of the famous tale of the six blind men and the elephant that originated in India.

"A number of blind men came to an elephant. Somebody told them that it was an elephant. The blind men asked, ‘What is the elephant like?’ and they began to touch its body. One of them said: 'It is like a pillar.' This blind man had only touched its leg. Another man said, ‘The elephant is like a husking basket.’ This person had only touched its ears. Similarly, he who touched its trunk or its belly talked of it differently. In the same way, he who has seen the TRUTH in a particular way limits the TRUTH to that alone and thinks that IT is nothing else."

And the moral of the story as I know it is this: None of us have seen the elephant!


Robin said...

This post made me smile. My philospher is back:-)

George said...

You are right: none of us have seen the elephant. So what can we do about this slippery customer, 'truth'?
Like you, I have pondered this question (and had many debates with people who tell me I should know 'right' from 'wrong' - oh, if only!)
I agree that the only thing we can know for certain is that we exist, but even then...

I sometimes think that the key may lie in the concept "relativity" - the notion of space and time.
(Or, possibly, as Bob Dylan said "You're right from your side/I'm right from mine..."


"The facts keep changing in a constantly evolving game so open to interpretation and fallacy. Today's blog post written by me in all honesty right now may be a lie by tomorrow."

I could not put it any better than that.

And thanks for your post to "George" (this is the only way I can think of to reply). I have had some problems... a low mood swing and gastric flu might be one "truth"... but, as your philosphy implies, it can only be an imperfect truth (even for me).

It meant a lot that you took the touble to write - You might even have saved the lives of George and Anna!!

I hope your are taking care of yourself too.

Your writing, your ideas, resonate so much with me.

Robin said...

I left you an award on my blog. I know that you love them:-)

ecelliam said...

You are an exellent writer,
I very much enjoyed this one.

Thank you for posting.

Purple Cow said...

Thanks Robin for the award. Not sure I can keep up with them.

The greatest award is what George wrote...the immediacy of blogging and having personal contact with people who see eye-to-eye with you is very rewarding.

Hi Ecelliam. Glad you enjoyed.

The Novelist said...

Oh I wish I had read your post before I wrote my own post today. I wrote about a misunderstanding that happened. And guess what! A misunderstanding is just each persons version of the truth. One person knows it to be a trunk and another knows it to be a tail! Bits of truth can most definitely cause many problems! We are on similar wavelengths my friend!

Phoenix said...

Truth is so very, very subjective. Especially when it comes to personal experiences - this is why I get cranky when people insist that there must be only one true religion when everyone experiences such different things in life.

Lovely post!

Purple Cow said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. If of course you even exist...sometimes I think my commenters are just too good to be true.

I've written about this before...

See my rope/snake dilemma -

it's an ongoing thing I keep thinking about. My eldest daughter thinks its extremely funny. When I tell her that I love her - she asks "And what if I don't even exist and am just a figment of your imagination?" And she's just 10!!!!