The Three Known Truths

This instinctive knowledge is recognized by individuals regardless of their age, gender, or culture, in fact regardless of their specific genetics—or species, since most of the higher animals know to seek refuge from pain and peril, to migrate toward locations of ample food and water and moderate weather, and with the exception of a few carnivores at the top of the food chain, to do so protected as a member of a herd or pack, that is, as a group. Absent genetic or developmental defect, this recognition is built in to the body and bodily processes of each living being.

Knowledge is experience as recognized by the individual members of a group as Souls. Such individual experience in turn embodies the recognized knowledge of that individual combined with that of countless other souls who have contributed to that individual’s comprehension of the world through their experience; the more universal the individual experience across the members of the group, the more universal the group’s recognition of the knowledge. Consequently, individual experience incorporates the derived knowledge from the historical experience of countless others, and thereby informs the ongoing knowledge of the individual’s direct, immediate experience; hence the persisting power of first impressions and of conservative explanations of phenomena. 

Both the derived and the direct experience are subject to interpretation as this common knowledge evolves, however, so that a clear understanding of the experience—of the fidelity of the knowledge to the truth, to the essence of what is happening—may be at variance with the comprehension of any given individual or their group, with their grasp of what is happening. That clear understanding and the knowledge it brings may be accessible from some vantage outside the group, either recognized or not by members of the group, or it may be inaccessible and forever unknown.

Accurate knowledge of what is real on the ground, so to speak, and capable of verification, comes only from an individual’s own direct experience, perhaps derived in part from another individual’s account; still that experience can be misunderstood or imperfectly conveyed by the senses and the mind to the individual self and to others, in which case the knowledge is lacking in understanding and is not the whole truth. The knowledge may not even be knowledge; the distillation of the experience, just a thought, an inaccurate mental representation of events, a fantasy in part or whole; or if the individual is motivated by a desire for deception, it may just be a lie.

Individual understanding of the truth of a subject is more than an accumulation of experiential knowledge and may not involve any direct experience at all. Depending on the type of knowledge, an intuitive understanding can be arrived at with no direct experience that might be expected to lead to specific knowledge, if the principles of the dynamics surrounding the experience are known. Indeed it is a generalized knowledge of natural principles that allows the development of valid understanding; a perception that there are autonomous forces and constraints—beyond the apparent egos and personalities of the individuals one meets in their societal groups—that control the ebb and flow of life; a realization that such forces and constraints are aspects of essential, fundamental laws which govern all of Nature and the Cosmos. 

The gorilla builds nests daily as it travels and forages for food, mostly on the ground, but some in the lower branches of trees. They choose the most appropriate tree boughs, branches, shoots and other foliage from what is readily available for the floor and in some cases roof of their nests, without benefit of any understanding of engineering principles; they rely on what the have learned from their troop growing up, their own experience, and their innate ability as to what they can break off, carry, and weave to that end. Presumably the members of the troop know that the silverbacks can manipulate larger vegetation than the females in this nest building—as well they must for their increased size—and the females larger than the young. The social status that conveys with the physical strength of increased size and its needs cannot be lost on the members, resulting in an awareness of individual personal agency in the life of the troop. 

This knowledge, along with the perceived properties of the various useful, life enhancing—pleasing—elements of the environment, direct the troops common migration through that environment and maintain their common affiliation as a group; all with out any formal, abstract reasoning. I say ‘formal’ reasoning, because it seems highly unlikely that these magnificent animals pass their knowledge down the generations by any means other than the learning process of practical demonstration; but not being a gorilla, I can’t really say. They do, however, show evidence of abstract reasoning in their ability to use the same branches used in nesting to increase their reach for game and fruit, club an adversary, or bridge a small stream. They have the ability to pragmatically understand and apply the basics of stress and strain in materials, and thereby of tensile and compression strength, of gauging of depth and length, and of mechanical advantage through the application of simple levers. 

Their close cousins, we humans, have started with such knowledge and by a comprehensive formal understanding of mechanical principles, expanded the application of that knowledge to reach the moon, among the many other accomplishments. It is the ability to apply reverse engineering to the natural world and to generalize an understanding of the processes so deduced, that have allowed our species to prosper by applying, to our own pleasurable ends, the true knowledge of fundamental laws—the truth that has been gained. This knowledge has the added value for our species of being applicable by anyone who has the ability to access that knowledge, irrespective of one’s social status as a silverback.

For those who are fortunate and awakened to those laws, once confirmed by experience, the effect is to unify all of that experience in one understanding, as one phenomenal Reality of life. When that experience is deep, vivid, thorough, enduring, and ubiquitous across all of an individual’s life, it is evidence enough, knowledge enough of this essential truth—of Truth. Some call this Truth, God, and they are not wrong to do this, since it includes any conceptual attributes that might be attributed to a deity, those of abiding power, wisdom, compassion, beauty…love. Such understanding may not bring complete knowledge of the universe, which is after all a work in progress, but what it brings will be recognized as valid. These three truths are of that ilk.