|THE discovery of Eternal truth is like the ascent of a mountain which has many paths
leading to its summit. The respective views from opposite paths will be entirely
different in nature, yet each way is the right way, for each way leads to the final
truth. Not only are there many different paths, but there are also different levels on
each path. Therefore there are thousands of different viewpoints, each one of them
accurate at some given moment, but each one of them changing as progress is made.
It is only when we come to the actual summit that all viewpoints are merged into
one great panorama. For the first time, the horizon forms a complete circle. This fact
is not without deep significance. The climber sees only broken views, broken
horizons. Strangely enough, it is the very mountain he climbs that prevents him
from seeing any further. It is the unconquered, undiscovered territory that lies
above him, the remainder of his own path that gets in the way and limits his view.
At anyone point upon his journey, he may feel able to declare, "This is the truth. I
see clearly with my own eyes. That which I know, I know from my own experience;
this is the truth and all other ways are false." At a higher point upon his climb,
however, he may see new things, may feel that he has now had revealed to him that
which was hidden before. He may therefore repeat his declaration with renewed
vigor and with greater conviction than ever. He forgets how strongly he once
believed in the evidence of his own eyes and the sum total of his own experience.
Such is his inability to see beyond his present vantage point that he can only be
blind to that which went before and to that which follows after.
It is at the top, and only at the top, that he sees clearly at last. Suddenly, in one
supreme moment of experience, the whole of the other side of the mountain comes
into view. A new scene exactly opposite, to the one with which he was familiar, now
stretches before him and he is able to recognise truths that others have often
mentioned in vain. He sees the tortuous, way he came, and the paths that others
have trod. He sees climbers even now ascending by different routes, each one
convinced that the small immediate scene is all the truth in the world. But as he
watches them, he is aware that all paths are leading to the top, that every
viewpoint is right for that person who happens to be confronting it, and that the
final truth can only be gained by means of a series of experiences which constitute
the climb. If we are able to accept this simile, which seems to me to be a good one,
we may draw from it several important conclusions.
*Firstly, it is a fine thing to know that one's own viewpoint is the right one. Such
knowledge results in strength and courage being given to go forward without fear.
*Secondly, it is a great mistake for any of us to imagine that opposite views to our
own must necessarily be wrong. Those who condemn others are simply revealing
their own limitations.
*Thirdly, there is a difference between Eternal Truth which takes in the whole, and
the temporary truths which merely represent stages of the journey.
*Fourthly, any violent differences of opinion are likely to persist and, indeed, to be
exaggerated as long as they are concerned with temporary truths.
*Fifthly, any differences of opinion, no matter how violent, are bound to be
reconciled the moment the matter is raised to the level of Divine Truth.