- . . . let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. [The Bible, Amos 5:24.]
When someone wakes in the morning, she feels a certain way, sees certain things, touches certain things, and so forth. That experience is that person’s Truth in that moment.
To know that Truth in another, and honor it, is the Truth force. Though the Truth force is the great creative force in the domain of the intellect, it also has roots in the emotions and in action, for we cannot appreciate another person’s Truth in only one domain. It must be felt and experienced, as well as thought.
Mohandas K. Gandhi is renowned for his non-violent resistance movement, which demonstrated the power of Truth over violence and other means of denying the humanity of a person or persons. This Truth is the inner Truth of humanity, the Truth of Being. People can tell when it is being honored and when it is being violated. If this simple Truth is ever universally honored, war, racial, ethnic, gender and other forms of discrimination, exploitation, and every act that dishonors anyone’s humanity all will end.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Mohandas K. Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha) (Shocken Books, 1961).
- Mohandas K. Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa (Academic Reprints, 1954).
- Jesse van der Valk, Satyagraha: The Gandhian Faith in Non-Violence (Routledge, 2004).
- Dalai Lama, For the Benefit of All Beings: A Commentary On the Way of the Bodhisattva (Shambhala, 2009).
- Santideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva (Shambhala, 2008).
- Santideva, Bodhicaryavatara (Windhorse Publications, 2004).
- Pema Chodron, No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva (Shambhala, 2005).
- Chokyi Dragpa, Uniting Wisdom and Compassion: Illuminating the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva (Wisdom Publications, 2004).
- Dilgo Khyentsie Rinpoche, The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-Seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva (Shambhala, 2007).
- Dilgo Khyentsie Rinpoche, Enlightened Courage: An Explanation of Seven-Point Mind Training (Snow Lion Publications, 2006).
- Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, Meaningful to Behold: The Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Tharpa Publications, 2008).
The circumstances in which I was then placed, gave me a longing desire to be free. It kindled a fire of liberty within my breast which has never yet been quenched. This seemed to be a part of my nature; it was first revealed to me by the inevitable laws of nature's God. I could see that the All-wise Creator, had made man a free, moral, intelligent and accountable being; capable of knowing good and evil. And I believed then, as I believe now, that every man has a right to wages for his labor; a right to his own wife and children; a right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. But here, in the light of these truths, I was a slave, a prisoner for life; I could possess nothing, nor acquire anything but what must belong to my keeper. No one can imagine my feelings in my reflecting moments, but he who has himself been a slave. Oh! I have often wept over my condition, while sauntering through the forest, to escape cruel punishment.
"No arm to protect me from tyrants aggression;
No parents to cheer me when laden with grief.
Man may picture the bands of the rocks and the rivers,
The hills and the valleys, the lakes and the ocean,
But the horrors of slavery, he never can trace."
The term slave to this day sounds with terror to my soul--a word too obnoxious to speak--a system too intolerable to be endured. I know this from long and sad experience. I now feel as if I had just been aroused from sleep, and, looking back with quickened perception at the state of torment from whence I fled. [Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1849), Chapter I.]
Ida B. Wells opposed racial injustice. A former slave, standing less than five feet tall, she “wrote about the victims of racist violence and also organized economic boycotts long before the tactic was popularized."
- Alfreda M. Duster, ed., Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells (University of Chicago Press, 1991).
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Ida B. Wells: The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader (Penguin Classics, 2014).
- Ida B. Wells: Social Activist and Reformer (Routledge, 2016).
- Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching (Amistad, 2008).
- Miriam DeCosta-Willis, ed., The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells: An Intimate Portrait of the Activist as a Young Woman (Beacon Press, 1995).
- Mia Bay, To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Hill and Wang, 2009).
- Linda O. McMurray, To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- Patricia A. Schechter, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
- Walter Dean Myers, Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told (Amistad, 2008).
- Mohandas K. Gandhi, Gandhi: An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With the Truth (Beacon Press, 1993; Courier Dover Publications, 1983).
- Stanley Wolpert, Gandhi's Passion: The Life and Legacy of Mohatma Gandhi (Oxford University Press, 2002).
- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Biographies of Truth – penetrating deeply into the subject:
- Roger Ebert, Life Itself: A Memoir (Grand Central Publishing, 2011), chronicling the critic’s life and career.
- Max Hastings, Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011): "'Inferno' offers an account of the war that concentrates on the lived experience of the men and women who took part in it."
History is littered with denials of the Truth of our common humanity.
- A.J. Langguth, Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
- Susan Bayly, Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
- Nicholas B. Dirks, The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (Belknap Press, 2006).
- Mark Sanders, Complicities: The Intellectual and Apartheid (Duke University Press, 2002).
- Mark Holborn and Hilary Roberts, The Great War: A Photographic Narrative (Imperial War Museums/Alfred A. Knopf, 2013): “The images presented here are not illustrations for a narrative; they are the narrative.”
- Peter Englund, The Beauty and the Sorrow: An Intimate History of the First World War (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011): “It’s not so much a book about what happened . . . as ‘a book about what it was like.’ It’s about ‘feelings, impressions, experiences and moods.’ ‘The Beauty and the Sorrow’ threads together the wartime experiences of 20 more or less unremarkable men and women, on both sides of the war, from schoolgirls and botanists to mountain climbers, doctors, ambulance drivers and clerks.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- Jan Chosen Bays, Jizo Bodhisattva: Guardian of Children, Travelers & Other Voyagers (Shambhala, 2003).
- Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011): told in the collective first-person voice of young Japanese women shipbound for the United States as picture brides in the early twentieth century, this short novel “captur(es) not just images but sensations, not just surfaces but the essence of what lies within.”
- Peter Nadas, A Book of Memories: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux): a “novel of consciousness.”
- Clare Clark, Beautiful Lies: A Novel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012): “A captivating tale of truth and memory,” this novel “is about the kaleidoscopic nature of reality,” asking “What is truth – and what is Maribel’s truth?”
- Louis Begley, Memories of a Marriage: A Novel (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2013), “while concerning itself with the search for truth in the most private spaces, also addresses the larger question of how anyone ever goes about finding the truth.”
- Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones (Little Brown, 2002): the protagonist is a murdered fifteen-year-old girl telling of her life from heaven.
- Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister: A Novel (Ballantine Books, 2015): “ . . . Parmar gives truth and definition to the character of a woman whose nature was as elusive as her influence was profound. She has caught the phantom.”
- Victor LaValle, The Changeling: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau, 2017): “ . . . LaValle does more than his share of truth-telling, about the anxieties and ambivalences of modern parenting, the psychological value of the stories we tell ourselves and our children, and the rigors of survival in urban America.”
- Roxane Gay, An Untamed State: A Novel (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, 2014): “When Mireille finally does return to Haiti, much stronger and intent on avenging her own ‘death,’ her target is not her captors but her father. She wants to break him with the ‘whole, filthy truth of my kidnapping, even the parts I hadn’t told Michael.’ But her humanity overrides revenge: ‘When I looked into his face, all I saw was an old man who made a terrible, weak choice and had to live with it for what remained of his life. He did not deserve the truth of how I died.’”
- Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 2018): “ . . . a clever comedy of manners set in Manhattan as well as a slowly unspooling tragedy about an Iraqi-American family, which poses deep questions about free will, fate and freedom, the all-powerful accident of one’s birth and how life is alchemized into fiction.”
- Willem de Koonig, Woman IV (1953)
- Norman Rockwell, Faces of Boy
- Isaac Levitan, Portrait of Nikolay Panafidin (1891)
- Vincent van Gogh, Landscape with Couple Walking and Crescent Moon (1890)
- Paul Cezanne, Self-Portrait (1875)
- Ivan Kramskoy, Head of an Old Ukranian Peasant (1871)
- Nicolas Poussin, Self-Portrait (1650)
- Rembrandt van Rijn, Study of an Old Man in Profile (1630)
Film and Stage
- The final scene in "Witness" illustrates the power of Truth. An Amish child has witnessed a murder in which law enforcement officials are complicit. When the corrupt officials are about to harm the child, the peaceful men and women of the community bear witness to their choice. Circumstances conspire to make Truth more powerful than evil.
- Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles: presenting three days in the life of a “middle-class widow-and-mother who supports herself and her teenage son by prostitution each afternoon, in her depressingly tidy apartment”.
Music: songs and other short pieces
A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.
There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished;
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.
There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus" --
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.
[from Edgar Lee Masters, “Silence”]
Brandon Leake is a young man who has written and recited poems that cut to the core of Truth in his life.
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “The Circuit Judge”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Early Billie Holiday, 1933-1944
Solo music on the Afghan Rubab
- Nashenas classical ghazals
- Dorray Logari
- Homayoun Sakhi performing raag Kirwani
- Humayun Sakhi performing Ustad Sarahang’s melodies
- Rahul Sharma, Humayun Sakhi and company, “In the Footsteps of Babur”
- Performances by Mohammad Omar
Solo music on the Native American flute
Solo music on the Iranian santur
- Hossein Farjami; “The Road to Esfahan”; classical music
- Faramarz Payvar
- Nasser Rastegar: “Bozorgdasht”
Gaubert, flute sonatas:
- Laderman, Interior Landscapes I
- Laderman, Interior Landscapes II
- Laderman, Partita for Solo Cello No. 2
- Laderman, Partita for Violin