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Let Truth Be Your Guide—Not Us

Although I have been walking a Vedanta path since age 2, for many years I self-consciously limited what I shared. That is because it is immediately apparent that I am not perfect, that I do not have it all figured out, that my thoughts and my habits drift both among truth and ignorance.

How could I stand up and talk about the deepest truths when I had not finished understanding truth?

So for many years I did not share. I quietly built my knowledge, experimented actively, practiced truth as I understood it. But I did not share. I was not qualified.

The dirty little secret that took me years to understand, however, is that none of us are qualified. Within all of us is truth and some measure of untruth. If we wait until we are perfectly realized before we share what we know, none of us will share what we know. Even monks, the saintliest among us, are not perfect in their understanding.

I dare write that none of us are 100 percent perfect in our understanding, even the greatest saints that have ever lived. As spiritual giant Swami Vivekananda noted, even Jesus of Nazareth and Siddhārtha Gautama revealed a little imperfection when they taught; the man who fully rests in truth knows there is no ignorance, no action or becoming, no point in making the world a better place beyond one’s own spiritual growth.

No one has perfect understanding, which is why we must always exercise our power of discrimination. Even from the wisest mouths come a little ignorance, so we must always weigh what we hear and what we see against our own internal compass. Truth naturally resonates with our deepest essence because it is a true reflection of reality. So even if we are uneducated or ignorant, even if we ignore the truth, we will recognize it when we encounter it.

Also, what is true for one person is not always true for another. The deepest truth is universal; the goal is the same. The path to reach that goal varies from person to person, however. Just as people are different, so too are the intermediate truths that eventually arrive at the deepest truth.

All of us can recognize the truth, but only individually can we fully recognize the intermediate truths that will take us to the larger truth. For this reason of individuality, and the necessity of sifting truth from untruth, we must take responsibility for ourselves. We must think for ourselves, we must trust ourselves, we must guide ourselves. We can learn from sages and saints, from teachers and gurus, but even the most enlightened person cannot take us half as far as we must take ourselves.

I am not a guru, and I am not enlightened. The guru is a wise man who you follow unquestioningly for a time because he is grounded in truth and can help guide you along your path. You come to him and voluntarily follow his program because you know he is mostly true.

I am not mostly true. I am only sometimes true. I humbly share what I know, but I am not a guru and not the most enlightened among us. What I am is a sincere, thoughtful, diligent person who shares what he knows for the benefit of others. Take the truth from what I write and discard the rest. Hopefully you won’t discard everything.

I’m still not qualified, but in the last few years I have started sharing my knowledge and experience anyway. I’ve come to realize that although I am not perfect in my understanding, I still might be of some use. Best to let each person decide where and how much I can help.

I don’t need to be Jesus to be spiritually useful, I just need to share what I know. Which is why this site exists, and why I humbly share these words and ideas.

-Peter Kowalke
February 6, 2013

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