In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. ~~ Buddha
People name and order things. It provides structure and a way to understand the world, life, and each other. The structure is helpful for the most part. Without structure we can’t function within the world.
However, we often box ourselves into a single way of understanding and interacting. The structure becomes limiting as we do not look for different ideas or understanding outside our own frames of reference. We reject or struggle against what is different.
This quote points out that what we think is a universal truth often isn’t. We have direction on the earth because the magnetic poles. But, why the titles “North, South, East, West?” They could easily be called something else. A different name wouldn’t change the magnetic pull. It would be a different frame of reference. But, we have defined the directions and believe them to be true and absolute.
We see this playing out in daily life. We label and box everything. Religion, gender, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation; pretty much anything that makes one group “different.” We are also members of different groups. Sometimes those groups actually have opposing views. We tend to relate to people in the frame of reference we have for them. This separation is an underlying cause of bias, misunderstanding, bigotry, hate, and fear. What is different challenges our order. However, it can also be a way of unifying by seeking to embrace and understand each other.
We limit ourselves. We believe certain things about ourselves and those become part of our identities. And we tend to hold onto those things. They are true to who we are. Are they really? In brain injury recovery, what I used to define myself is no longer the same. Am I a different person? Yes, and no. Maybe I’m now in a different “truth.” The distinctions I created are no longer true. The desire to order and label continues. I created different distinctions to describe myself. In a way, I am in the process of forming a different identity. It’s a human trait.
What does this mean? The truths we believe aren’t necessarily the whole truth. It is just a frame of reference. Truth is more fluid. Or is there actually “truth” at all?