What Is Truth?
By Edgar Cayce
First printed in December, 1929.
We often hear it said that Truth is evasive, Truth is naked, Truth will not be downed--but what is Truth? When we speak of A truth, or THE truth, or TRUTH, we possibly mean different things. You will remember, those of you who have read the little story--and I'm sure most of you have--there were three men who went to see an elephant, but all of them were blind. One of these stumbled against the side of the elephant, and he said, "I perceive, without a doubt, the elephant is very like a wall." Another one, as he stumbled about the animal, found his trunk, and said, "I perceive with a certainty, the elephant is very like a tree." The other man, as he stumbled about, got hold of the tail, and said, "I perceive the elephant is very much like a rope." Now were they in error? Did they have the truth? Or did they have only a portion of the truth? Or did they have any of the truth?
When we read, or get the idea of some particular thought, or some particular rule, gradually we build into our own selves the idea that we have gotten the whole thing. Now IS Truth such a thing that those who have been followers of Mohammed have all of the truth? Have they who have been the followers of Moses the law-giver, all the truth? Or has it rather been a growth in our individual lives, and what may be truth to one individual possibly may not, in the experience of the other individual, answer at all? Does that make the other any less true to the other individual?
Will it be possible for us to find something of which we can say, "THIS is truth," and KNOW that it will answer in everything or every way that life may present itself to us? I believe that we can. You may differ with me. I don't think, however, that you will be able to REFUTE what will be my definition, or what I will be able to say IS Truth. But many of you will say, "Well, have you been given some peculiar power that you have knowledge of what Truth is, and can answer the question that has been sought throughout all the ages, so that we may know what TRUTH is?" Let's see if this will not answer the whole question in our lives.
First we must know that, if we are to accept any word, or any follower as a truth, or THE truth, or Truth, we must be sure of the AUTHORITY that we quote. We must recognize these facts in our lives: there is a physical body, there is a spiritual body. We know the physical body is dependent upon its physical attributes for its development. It is also the temple, or the dwelling place of the spiritual body. The spiritual body, we know, is of the Creator--whatever we may call the Creator. It comes from the same thing--even if we go back to the scientific reasoning and say it begins from the lowest form of life. WHEREVER we begin, we have to say there is something beyond that where it has developed, whether you believe in evolution, creative evolution, or what not, it all has to come back to the very same thing, AND if I can answer this I don't believe I'm wrong in saying that you can take it from any standpoint you want to take it, but this IS Truth:
THAT WHICH KEPT BEFORE YOUR MENTAL MIND, YOUR SPIRITUAL MIND, WILL CONTINUE TO DEVELOP YOU UPWARD! That which, held before you, will continue to develop you upward.
Now, what have we taken for granted? We have taken for granted that man has a mind, that man has a body--a physical body, a spiritual body. He has a SOUL, if you choose! We have taken for granted that his mental body is controlled by his mental being. His soul, or his spiritual body is controlled by his subconscious, or his spiritual mind. That which will continue to hold before the individual that which he worships as his God will continue, then, to develop the individual towards that which he worships.
Truth is not a thing, then, that we can see, that your eyes or body, or ears, or things of that kind--but it is the essence with which an individual builds faith, hope, and trust. That is Truth! That essence that we are enabled to hold before our mental vision, is truth. Will it build your body? It will! Will it heal the sick? It will!
A few days ago I was talking to some people--they were telling me about a book that had been written by some of the masters from the far East. I had never seen the book before, but when I opened it to read it I knew what was in it before I read it. I don't know how, nor why, but I knew the experiences that I was going to encounter. I don't know why except THIS: I have been continuing to think of how I might answer this question. With the first four or five pages I found that in this book, this ONE thing was continually held before the individual; that which you hold before yourself, to create that image you worship, that will develop you always upward, and will continue to enable you to know truth!
Truth, then, being a growing thing, truth being a thing that will develop you, is a something that is ENTIRELY IN ACTION! Not inactive, but IN ACTION! That's what God is! For in every MOVEMENT that has ever been, it has been a continual upward development, or upward toward that which IS Truth.
If you hold malice, you can become one of the meanest persons in the world. You know that if you continue to send out thought (that may become a miracle or a crime); you create just those very same cross-currents in your mind.
What is prayer but simply attuning yourself to that which you are seeking assistance through? That's all prayer is - attuning yourself to that very same thing. That becomes Truth when it becomes in action. When it goes into action, to YOU it becomes Truth. It's your own conception of what your God is. If it makes you better to the very thing you worship, or more in accord with the thing you worship, THAT you become, whether it's downward or upward, you go whichever way your standard is set.
Q. Yet if we are going backward, how can we know?
A. You can't make it anything else, because to you it's truth, because that's what you are following. That becomes truth to you. That which you continue to follow becomes truth whether it's negative or positive. As we learn it from that viewpoint, it becomes true; that is, whatever we hold that continues to build upward is Truth. Now, as to who is to say whether you are building up, or as to how near it brings you to that thing you worship AS your God, because God IS Truth, if you continue to hold that, you may develop to that, but to someone else whose God might be something else, that wouldn't be Truth.
Q. That applies right here in your hospital, etc.
A. If it answers one, it answers all. That's what it stands for; that which may develop in the individual that understanding of its relation to its Maker and to its fellow man. Or, as we come back to the very same thing I said in Sunday School this morning, I've been studying a long while, trying to understand what is meant by the second commandment, and I never did know what it meant - that is, satisfactorily to my own mind - until the other night. The first commandment, as we know, is, "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy mind, etc." The second is, "Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image." Why? Because if you make an image it becomes your God. But if you have for your God that which is within your own individual self, you yourself being a portion of the Creator, you will continue to build upward, to it!
Note: This article includes excerpts of a lecture given by Edgar Cayce at the Cayce Hospital in Virginia Beach and is included in the report document for reading 1800-15. It was first published by The Association of National Investigators in Volume 1 of The New To-Morrow in December, 1929.