The truth about non-truth shall set you free / by Michael Sloyer

They say the truth shall set you free. From what, you might ask. Maybe it is from others, maybe it is from delusion, maybe it is from ourselves. I am not exactly sure. But what I have become more present to as I have gotten older is the feeling I get when there is real truth happening.

Truth can happen in an endless variety of forms. An insight, a conversation, a criticism, a thought, a discovery about the nature of myself, a discovery about the nature of reality, or just the simple truth of the present moment.

There are lots of ways to get high, but I find it hard to beat the high I get when I discover truth for myself or have truth bestowed upon me by others. For the latter, however, even if the insight comes from someone else, I have to get fully present to the truth for myself for that high to exist.

So why? Why do we get high on truth? Truth is light. Pretense and delusion are heavy. Truth is easy. Pretense and delusion are complicated. They are full of gray areas. With truth, there is nothing to hide, nothing to cover up. No effort needs to be made to disguise truth from the world. Secrets can take on an entire life of their own. Once we are hiding something form ourselves or from others (even if we are not aware of the fact that we are hiding it), we become slaves to the secret. It may feel as if our survival depends on the maintenance of this secret. We lose our freedom to operate with love, creativity, and empathy in the world.

The high from truth is akin is to the high from an “A-Ha” moment. Chemicals are literally released in our brain. We rid ourselves of the proverbial “monkey on our back.” The world becomes our oyster.

And isn’t it interesting how real truth is the exception rather than the rule? We have to work hard to discover real truth. We don’t have to work very hard to discover delusion. The hard work and lack of freedom comes from the maintenance of the delusion, rather than the discovery itself.

In my almost daily (if not hourly) existential quest to discover why I am here (or at the very least, what I should be doing while I am here), I think a lot about the delusions that are running (and potentially ruining) my life. One of my big secrets/pretenses/lies (whatever you want to call it) is the notion that “I got this” and “I can do it on my own.” Very much related is the impossibly high standard I sometimes hold others to, even when I am not close to upholding this standard myself. These notions are made even more exhausting and heavy by the fact that I am not aware that I am carrying them around with me most of the time. I do things like pretend I have heard of that famous actor when I have no idea who he is, pretend that it doesn’t bother me when some friends have an email chain without me, or that I don’t always need the love and support of the people who care about me. I do things like pretend that answers are obvious even when they are not and give others a hard time for making mistakes. Ideas like perfection and “I can do it all on my own” are not truths. They are my delusions. They are my pretenses. And they make life a whole lot more sub-optimal than it has the potential to be.

The complicated part about all of this is that pretense and facades are often pretenses and facades for a reason. It is not that we are malicious or ill-intentioned people when we have them. We can’t necessarily see them ourselves. And almost by definition, they have a gray area, so there is often truth embedded within them. They often serve a purpose. They fuel our voracious egos. They make us feel protected from the difficulties of the world. They are our defense mechanisms. They are how we have always dealt with our insecurities. They run deep. They are engrained within us. And if we let go of them, we would be letting go of parts of us that we might feel we could not live without.

And in discovering these for myself, I come face to face with the truth of just how much of my life is lived in pretense, delusion, and a pho-reality. But herein lies the silver lining, which is that one of the best highs comes from telling the truth about not telling the truth, from being authentic about being inauthentic. Once we strip down to our birthday suit, really admit that this is me and this is what I have done, then we are immediately living in a world of truth. The heaviness, the complications, and the exhaustion all begin to fade away. We become unfettered from the shackles of delusion. Light and liberty prevail. The truth about non-truth has indeed set us free.