It seems to me that every time some little bit of truth dawns somewhere, it rapidly accrues a huge weight of dogma around it. This ruins the truth for others to enjoy and forces them to accede to the dogma whether the dogma yields the same result as the truth or not.
For instance, it might be observed that our diet affects our mental states in some way, at some time, perhaps in some study or in some writers life. "You are what you eat" becomes the mantra, and the specific set of solutions for happiness or comfort embraced by the study or writer are presented as a universal rule for eating. "You should not eat 'dead' food" is just such a dogma, which was once foisted on a friend and myself by one of her fellow employees. She and I are both healthy self-abusers, in that we do not partake of any particular "health conscious" diets (I live on bread and cheese), and she consumed a fair quantity of recreational pharmaceuticals which were certainly not part of a healthy diet. We both look younger than our years (she still does, in spite of kicking around at the bottom of life's barrel for many years), are healthy, energetic, and do not complain of any chronic or acute health issues. The "authority" who chided us, on the other hand, was obese, had bad skin and hair, and seemed to be fairly unhappy with life. Not only was her dogma unnecessary for us to adopt, it was probably not doing her any good either.
Another rather obvious example is that of religion. A particularly insightful person may live a life that inspires others, and many things they will say about how they think they live will be transcribed into some sort of "holy text." These words, however far from the causes of that one individual's insights they may be (it is hard enough to know ourselves, but to know the causes of our genius is hardest of all) are taken by their followers, those who would hope to enjoy a life so charmed, as laws of behaviour, and eventually become ritual prescriptions for salvation or holiness. Those who disobey are put to death or sanctioned one way or another. Those who are likewise charmed and hear the voices of their gods in the wind around them will suffer the fate of the heretic, until their followers likewise manage to codify and start to evangelise and enforce the mere words that somehow will cause a state of grace in the faithful.
The truth on its own must largely be apprehended privately by the individual. There are traditions, of course, that honor this concept and serve to help the seeker find their truths for themselves, but by and large the truth is not even something that most people can face. They are not interested in it, but they do want to enjoy its benefits and so they will kneel at whichever altar will not only not get them killed but will show that they are pious, that they are among the blessed, the decent, the pure...
The truth is a cruel and harsh master at times. It cannot be shared, let alone dictated.
The truth will set you free, but it might just as easily make a martyr of you.
5/2/01 3 AM
© Huw Powell