Viewing life impartially is one of the least stimulating experiences I know. Biased views, on the other hand, are chock full of emotional tension, highs and lows, loves and hates — it’s exciting! In the same way, a good story is exciting; a ‘cold hard truth’ is often awfully full of awe. This should be evident right off the bat. Now, through correlations, I’ll take it a step further to show how it is not truth we love; it’s the innate bias every story embodies. Honestly, without partiality there is no story.
I should clarify what I mean by bias. Bias is essentially any view that highlights differences and avoids discerning subtler similarities, or as chapter 56 notes, mysterious sameness. Bias is truly just a matter of degree, and begins with names and words. Oops, that includes me right now, doesn’t it? Paradoxically, I must resort to bias in my attempt to write about truth. I suppose this exemplifies chapter 18’s When cleverness emerges there is great hypocrisy. This is downright ironic and humbling. That’s life.
No wonder chapter 56 says, One who knows does not speak; one who speaks does not know, chapter 23 says, To use words but rarely is to be natural, and chapter 5 says, Much speech leads inevitably to silence. Better to hold fast to the void. Now, with this necessary mea culpa out of the way, I can proceed with this ‘truthful story’.
Tracing every experience back to its dimly lit origins can be a fascinating and useful journey. Doing this over decades has been like tracing a huge river upstream in search of its source spring. Currently I find fear at the upper-most reaches of this river (see Fear Is The Bottom Line). Is it really the source spring? Previously I felt need as the source so I can only say time will tell. Nevertheless, fear does play a major role in why the story trumps the truth nearly every time, as I hope a few correlations (1) can help point out, as truthfully as possible.
Need -> Effects
Causes <- Fear
This correlation proportion can be read in a circular clockwise direction, like so: Need effects fear, fear causes need. This requires a little peripheral vision and an intuitive feel to understand. Step back, relax and let it sink in for a moment. Remember, this fear is not the run away scream-in-terror expression of fear we see in the movies, but the void, empty, still, dark, silent side of the ‘yin yang circle’. This subtler side of fear is the underlying cause of need.
It is interesting how truth correlates to fear, i.e., truth = void = stillness = dark = silence = nothing = fear, and so on. If you don’t see this association, try correlating truth with the opposites: truth = full = action = bright = sound = something = courage. Well? Which feels closer? If you feel the latter correlations fit truth better, I imagine you have difficulty understanding the Tao Te Ching.
The sloppy logic of correlations (1) makes it clear that truth causes need. I suppose that makes no sense… at least at first. But hang on, there’s more.
The Story We Want To Hear
Illusion -> Effects
Causes <- Truth
Reading this correlation set gives: illusion effects truth, truth causes illusion. How can truth cause illusion? Consider this a parallel to the old saying, behind every myth is a grain of truth. Illusion adversely effects truth, until there is no more than a grain left in the illusion.
We love the story over truth because the story provides just enough grains of truth without the bewildering, fear inducing mystery of the whole truth. Each need or fear you feel corresponds to a truth worthy of looking into. Then again, looking into our truth-pit of fear and need is not that pleasant. Doesn’t this parallel the practice of shooting the messenger, i.e., the act of lashing out at the blameless bearer of bad news? We don’t like listening to what we don’t want to hear. To paraphrase chapter 5, Truth, like Heaven and earth, are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs. The story we like, on the other hand, is the one that supports our biases, telling us what we want to hear. While mostly fluff, the stories we feel comfortable with retains just barely enough truth to make it credible.
Correlations is the best tool I’ve found for pointing out the truth with a minimum of such story bias. (See Using Yin and Yang to Pop Preconceptions)
(1) If you’re new to correlations, these posts may also help:
Tao As Emergent Property
Fear Is The Bottom Line,
Learning What You Know
What Is The Tao Actually
Think What You Believe? Believe What You Think?
Correlations Prime Directive
Grinding Out Correlations