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! Likewise, a good story is exciting, where as a ‘cold hard truth’ is often dreadful. While this is evident, correlations (1) can help us look deeper into how and why nearly any story trumps the truth. We definitely love the angles a story highlights. Honestly, without this bias there is no story.
Bias is essentially any viewpoint that highlights differences and downplays subtle similarities, or as chapter 56 notes, mysterious sameness. Of course, bias is a matter of degree, but it begins with the words language uses to label differences. Uh-oh, that includes me right now, doesn’t it. Paradoxically, I must resort to bias in my attempt to write about truth. I suppose this characteristic of language exemplifies chapter 18’s When cleverness emerges there is great hypocrisy. This is ‘dreadfully’ ironic and humbling.
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 my ‘truthful story’.
Tracing life experience back to its existential roots is a fascinating journey. Doing this over the last 50 years has been like tracing a long river upstream searching for its headwaters. Presently I find ‘fear’ to be at life’s headwaters. (See Fear Is The Bottom Line.) Yet, is it really the source? After all, I used to see ‘need’ at life’s headwaters. In any case, both fear and need play key roles in why the story trumps the truth, as I hope a few correlations (1) can demonstrate.
Need -> Effects
Causes <- Fear
This correlation proportion can be read in a circular clockwise direction, like so: Need effects fear, fear causes need. This may require some peripheral vision and intuitive feel to understand. Step back, relax and let it sink in for a moment. Note: Fear is not the cries of terror we see in horrible circumstances. Such screams are a symptom of fear. Fear, at the headwaters of life, correlates to the empty, still, silent, dark, dead, yin side of the ‘yin yang circle’. This subtler side is the underlying cause of need… and any actions that needs trigger.
It is interesting how truth correlates to fear, i.e., truth ≅ void ≅ stillness ≅ dark ≅ death ≅ silence ≅ nothing ≅ fear, and so on. This means illusion correlates to need, i.e., illusion ≅ full ≅ action ≅ bright ≅ life ≅ sound ≅ something ≅ need. Note: In my view, truth correlates to reality. Substitute reality for truth and reread this paragraph. Do you notice anything interesting? Consider these correlations as relative, not absolute. Thus, for example, death is more similar to reality just as life is more similar to illusion, comparatively speaking.
The murky logic of correlations (1) indicates that truth causes need. I suppose that makes no sense… at least at first. Nevertheless, 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 as a parallel to the old saying, “behind every myth is a grain of truth”. Illusion overshadows truth, until there is no more than a grain of truth left in the illusion.
We love the story over the truth because the story provides just enough grains of truth without the bewildering, fear inducing and mind blowing whole truth… the totality! Each need or fear you feel corresponds to a slice of truth worthy of looking into. Alas, looking into one’s bottomless truth-pit of fear and need is not pleasant. This corresponds to ‘shooting the messenger’, i.e., the act of lashing out at the blameless bearer of bad news. We hate looking at or listening to what we don’t want to see or hear.
Conversely, the story we like is the one that supports our biases and tells us what we want to hear. While mostly fluff, the stories we feel comfortable with retain just barely enough truth to make them credible. And yet, we can’t escape the truth in the end; to paraphrase chapter 5, Truth, like Heaven and Earth, is ruthless, and treats the myriad creatures as straw dogs.
(1) Correlations is the best tool I’ve found for digging deeper towards the truth with a minimum of such story bias. (See Using Yin and Yang to Pop Preconceptions)
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