Food for Thought: Truth and Self-thoughts from Philosopher James Allen, February 19, 2020

Food for Thought: Truth and Self-thoughts from Philosopher James Allen, February 19, 2020

Our mid-week services are designed for open discussion among a group of people with diverse philosophies and beliefs. These are the notes from those meetings, and reflect the desire to explore thought within and outside the Christian tradition. They do not represent official doctrine, but a willingness to explore our shared humanity. As such, they are somewhat incomplete without the experience of actual discussions. We post them here for the sake of those who would like to have them but cannot always make it out to a mid-week service.

Discussion Primer: Truth and Self—thoughts from the philosopher James Allen

I do not presume to know who this is, except for the one article of his that I found and printed. I have no particular affinity for him or desire to promote his ideas. The article just caught my eye in an internet search! Here is the link to the article:

Two masters: Self and Truth

The master self is that rebellious one whose weapons are passion, pride, avarice, vanity, self-will, implements of darkness; the master Truth is that meek and lowly one whose weapons are gentleness, patience, purity, sacrifice, humility, love, instruments of light.

There is self and there is Truth; where self is, Truth is not, where Truth is, self is not.

I will interject here to say that I know that he is defining “self” in a very narrow sense and the actual word and concept could be talked about in a more positive sense. But, just to run with it a while (short as that may be), let’s start with his definition!

The self that Jesus says must be ‘denied’
The self that Buddha says must be annihilated

The ‘unmistakable’ signs of the truth lover from the Bhagavad Gita

Fearlessness, singleness of soul, the will
Always to strive for wisdom; opened hand
And governed appetites; and piety,
 And love of lonely study; humbleness,
Uprightness, heed to injure nought which lives
Truthfulness, slowness unto wrath, a mind
That lightly letteth go what others prize;
And equanimity, and charity
Which spieth no man‘s faults; and tenderness
Towards all that suffer; a contented heart,
Fluttered by no desires; a bearing mild,
Modest and grave, with manhood nobly mixed,
With patience, fortitude and purity;
An unrevengeful spirit, never given
To rate itself too high–such be the signs,
O Indian Prince! of him whose feet are set
On that fair path which leads to heavenly birth!” 

Religion’s aim:

(again, according to Allen) The absolute denial, the utter extinction, of self is the perfect state of Truth, and all religions and philosophies are but so many aids to this supreme attainment.

What is Truth:

Truth in its very nature is ineffable and can only be lived. He who has most of charity (love) has most of Truth.

Truth is not a formal belief; it is an unselfish, holy, and aspiring heart…

Other quotes:

The follower of self takes up arms against others. The follower of Truth takes up arms against himself.

There is but one religion, the religion of Truth. There is but one error, the error of self.

Men cannot understand Truth because they cling to self, because they believe in and love self, because they believe self to be the only reality, whereas it is the one delusion. When you cease to believe in and love self you will desert it, and will fly to Truth, and will find the eternal Reality.

All suffering is self. All suffering ends in Truth. (very Buddhist)

Have you suffered much? Have you sorrowed deeply? Have you pondered seriously upon the problem of life? If so, you are prepared to wage war against self, and to become a disciple of Truth.

Other Silliness:

This episode of the Simpsons was mentioned by a few members after the mention of the Bhagavad Gita.  I post the episode here for those who would like to see it.  If you do not get the reference, don’t worry, you are not alone.


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