As a collective, we all share one planet but as individuals, we live in different worlds. Our worlds overlap, more with some less with others, but completely with none. Have you ever met a person who believes EVERYTHING you believe? I know I haven’t. There are probably only a few people in your life whose beliefs align enough with yours for you to consider them a close friend. Even the closest people to us (who tend to be our family) can hold radically different beliefs than we do. We can expect and even celebrate our differences as they contribute to the richness of life. Yet when our differing beliefs become solidified into objective truths we are bound to create unresolvable conflicts.
The belief that underlies all beliefs is the belief of objective truth. For us to believe anything we must believe that we can be objective. When someone shares an opposing belief we automatically feel discomfort because our ability to be objective is being questioned. Our mind automatically says “If you are so objective then why does Billy think differently?” Usually, our mind answers this question by saying “I am objective it’s Billy who’s not objective. I’m perceiving the world as it is, Billy is deluded.” Luckily most of us don’t get stuck arguing over what tastes better orange juice or apple juice. We recognize that people can have different opinions and that some things are subjective. What we often fail to realize is that everything we perceive is affected by our subjectivity; there is no objective truth.
I recognize that saying “there is no objective truth” still implies a truth statement. This shows how our minds can’t help but objectify the world. We are constantly trying to make sense of our experience and to do so we artificially solidify an ever-flowing reality. It seems like there is objectivity and that’s why it’s so difficult to recognize that there’s none. Some things may be more objective than others but there is nothing that our subjectivity doesn’t impact. Even a scientific experiment can’t be completely objective as the experimenter’s attention alters the reality that they investigate. Paradoxically there is a study in quantum mechanics that points to this conclusion.
Realizing that there is no objective truth can be both unnerving and freeing. It’s unnerving because it dissolves our sense of certainty and solidity. It’s freeing because it can help release us from limiting beliefs and liberate our conflicts. Recognizing that there is no objective truth reveals a malleability to the world that is usually hidden. Things are not what they seem. This doesn’t mean that we can instantly let go of any belief but we sure can soften our grip. Some beliefs are more deeply ingrained both in our minds and the collective culture. But with a little plowing, even these beliefs can potentially be unrooted.
The recognition of no objective truth doesn’t prevent us from pretending that there is objective truth. Our minds hallucinate objectivity to make sense of the world and thank god that they do. We need to pretend that there is an objective truth to function in our daily lives. We create rules and parameters to play finite games within an infinite reality. And yet the recognition of no objective truth opens a space where we can rest. We can take a break from sense-making and be with the mystery. We can share an opposing belief with another and follow it up with a humbling “but I don’t know”. Because if we are to be radically honest; we don’t know what is real and what is true. We don’t know reality aside from our limited perception of it. And although different, another’s perspective is not necessarily less true than ours. It is this recognition of no objective truth that can liberate our conflicts and give us a new understanding of reality.