Perception vs. Truth
Spirituality in simple words
For as long as I can remember, I have had an indescribable desire to understand life. Throughout my life, I always felt that something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was.
In simple words, I kept asking myself, “What the hell is this life all about? What is going on? And why?”
Okay, we go through kindergarten, school, high school, and then college; some get married, have children, find a career, buy a house… But the inevitability of death was like a black cloud that forced me to wonder, “What is it all about?”
As I grew up, this desire became a sense of unease at the back of my mind, which made me feel incomplete and restless.
No one, myself included, could stop me from pondering life. I was desperately searching for the meaning of it all. Of course, at the time, I could not tell where such a search would take me or what innumerable hardships I would have to endure. Later, I learned that if I could work out what was going on with me or what was happening to me, things would be much easier. But there was no one available to help me with this, or at least I didn’t think there was.
In retrospect, this longing brought me into “spectator mode”—observation of the theater of life—a situation in which I was looking at life as a though it was a play, but one in which I was participating, meaning that I identified with the characters on stage.
At around the age of thirty, I experienced a critical and overpowering turning point. After going through a confusing period, I woke up one morning with a dreadful emptiness. It felt like a big black gaping hole had opened in my chest. The words that jump to mind when I remember this feeling are, “all dead!” I had a very acute sense of loss, as though everything I had been until that moment was now gone. All I knew and thought and felt about myself and life in general, had died that morning and I found myself living in a bubble.
There was no connection between me, and reality and life as I knew them.
The feeling could be compared to eating food without the senses of taste and smell; without these basic senses, you lose the desire to eat. And in the same way, I lost the desire to live. What followed was a total collapse of mind and body. I experienced panic attacks, and simply standing up was a struggle. What I remember most is that I knew I had to hold on despite the strong desire to completely collapse, let go, and never get up again, because I did not want to worry my family.
Not able to understand what was happening to me, I did not want to get into a situation where I had to explain myself. Deep down, I felt insulated and lonely, and all I wanted was to be left alone.
Exact words failed me, and all I could describe was a state of tremendous fear, loss of control, and restless hell, and an inability to understand any of it. And so, I lived trapped in a kind of furnace that burned me alive. I was completely detached from reality, and my sense of identity was utterly gone as though it had never even existed.
After a few months, I began to see the simple beauty in my surroundings: a blooming flower, the shining sun, or a simple good morning. I welcomed every one of those little gifts that came my way, and I began to see the simple yet wondrous beauty in everything. And so, I learned to enjoy every little thing in all its greatness.
Despite those newly found comforts, I was still troubled because my fundamental questions about the meaning of life remained unanswered; my inability to find the answers meant that true peace still eluded me.
Over the course of a period that was relatively calm, words started to visit me just as I was on the verge of sleep. I felt a compelling need to write them down, and so I did. At first, words would come only at night, but soon, they began to surprise me at any hour. I would hear a word from someone and all of a sudden, an entire scenario would unfold before me, and I would have to write it down. At that time, I went everywhere with a small notebook, ready to write whatever came to me whenever it came. The material was absorbed into me like into a dry sponge, and I finally realized the answers to my deepest questions.
I realized that the missing part I was looking for in my life was myself.
In this manner, short and concise chapters took shape. After a few months, I had enough written words that the idea of a book came to life. Some of the things that I had written took me a while to understand. It took a while for them to crystallize into a book.
The book, Perception vs. Truth, is designed to introduce you to yourself. It is designed to introduce you to a different perspective of you and the world, one that you may not be accustomed to. Furthermore, it is designed to enable you to see how you are influenced and how you can influence yourself and your surroundings.
Perception vs. Truth holds the answers to all the questions that took me on a life-changing journey. I hope that reading it will inspire you to find your own answers to life.
Wisdom of Water means that whatever I write, I’m not necessarily trying to say something concrete. You may say that I am painting with words. My writing is a set of different perspectives on each situation. I am not trying to make a specific point; I just wish to maintain awareness of many different and diverse points of view. Everything is valid; everything is circumstantial according to one’s own point of view.
Wisdom of Water means not getting stuck on words, definitions, etc. Like water, life seeks balance. And so do we. When we understand that there are endless ways to view each situation, and we use our ability to learn from any outcome, we become like water—we maintain our balance, and gradually, over time, we become wiser than before.
If you have an unexplainable yearning to know the nature of the world in which you live, then Perception vs. Truth is the book for you. To know the world is to know the “I” that you are. It is called self-knowledge, and it can only be known by one’s own wisdom.
Never be satisfied with the answers that come from others. Somehow, we learn to place more faith in the wisdom of others than we do our own. Listen to people, but use their answers as a guideline only.
Perception vs. Truth is about being aware and acknowledging yourself, and by doing so, life will become simple. Enjoy the adventure of your own self and discover the depths within, which can give you the answers you seek. Each of us is the expert of his or her life. Remember, whatever comes from deep within comes in the form of intuition, and you have to become more aware of that intuition, and learn to trust it.
Finally, Perception vs. Truth talks about the Promised Land, which we all reside in.
Some say that the vast majority of humans are sleepwalkers—people who live while sleeping. It would be truer to say that they live within an illusion—an illusion of their own individual creation.
Illusion, as one does not know what reality is facing him.
What is the source of it? And how is it created?
If we presume that life is like a dream, we could say that in order to dream, there is a need for a dreamer. There is a correlation between what one thinks and believes, and what one is actually experiencing. The term “illusion” is used because one does not fully comprehend the nature of his/her reality; therefore, we may refer to him/her as being “asleep.” One needs to be “awake” in order to understand. One has to realize that the common denominator in everything that is happening to him/her is simply oneself.
Once you are awakened to the fact that the cause of everything is within you, all your decisions you will make will be directly related to your perspective. Your own perceptions will be determined by this viewpoint. One who succeeds in having no viewpoint at all ought to have a very broad and profound perception. “Ought to” because it is impossible to adopt “no viewpoint” without actually having one. Any effort on someone’s part will constitute adopting a viewpoint; therefore, one is always condemned to remain as he/she is.
Although this paradox seems like a maze with no way out, this is where true liberation resides. True understanding leads to surrender, which in turn leads to freedom. However, when a person wears a mask (a personality, ego), that person cannot be free. Unknowingly, this person values their mask more than their freedom.
The difficulty is how to be free from the mask; free of conditioning.
When someone surrenders to the truth, they stop being dominated by their persona and their viewpoint. A person can give many reasons for liking something but the truth is, we discover what we like; we don’t choose what we like.
Who you truly are and what you love in life is not a matter of choice.
Poems, Poetry, Social Issues
Published: May 29, 2020
Publisher: Austin Macauley
Diverse indications as to failure of humans to find and follow pathways to
Human Kindness Shortfalls is a collection of poems that vary as to topic
but all address some problem or issue regarding which kindness is in short
supply as we too often resort to harmful efforts at controlling who and/or
what is allowed to prosper.
These poems deal with family matters, government misbehavior, human flaws,
war, ecology. The overall theme is how we humans fail to live up to our
potential in dealings with others in which we too often act indifferently,
About the Author
Edmund F. Byrne is a retired philosophy professor who has taken up poetry
after years of publishing books and articles in his professional field. For
twenty years, he was a section editor for the Journal of Business Ethics and
more recently, has reviewed books critical of ‘Just War Theory’.
At IUPUI, where he taught, he has established a Peace and Global Justice
Award. Edmund also published a memoir entitled Remembering My Self.
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