Truth or Repose: You Must Choose

Truth or repose: You must choose.

“God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose…. You can never have both.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

You see what Emerson did there–he surprised you, didn’t he, with this contrast between two things that are not normally considered opposites? He says they are opposed, truth and repose.

He says, and I paraphrase into 21st-century English, as the word “repose” isn’t even a word we use anymore:

There is a subtlety in the good vs. evil dichotomy: risk avoidance or comfort seeking might seem like a good idea, but a life spent seeking comfort and safety is a rudderless life; it’s a seduction–it looks attractive, but it is less than true; it is dishonest. The truth will call you into the existential crisis. Or the crisis will propel you to the truth.

truth or repose“Do. Or do not.”

Emerson’s contrast between truth and repose takes the discussion up a notch; the contrast is between actualized truth versus ideas about truth (“collecting postcards” is a colorful way of putting it).

Emerson says every sentient being has the choice to follow the inner guidance bestowed by God or to choose not to listen. Emerson notes how most people are dangling between truth and repose, wavering in ambivalence.

Identity Foreclosure

Emerson might have an ax to grind, being a pioneer in human thinking and having some misgivings about the huddled masses who aren’t with him. He gives a great description of how people end up becoming their parents.

Today’s psychology books call it “identity foreclosure,” as when, for instance, the child follows the career chosen for them by their parents. Similarly, perhaps the young person never ventures very far from their place of birth. Touching up the dated language again, “the love[rs] of repose” are really just suckers for the first thing that comes down the pike, many of them falling into careers and lifetime commitments, as if their lives are just happening to them.

Truth-seeking Can Be Done Sitting Down

Truth in ReposeIt’s hard not to notice that Emerson is sitting down there. But Emerson in repose is not the same thing as those people who prefer repose. Emerson gets more done sitting down in a few hours than you could find in that amount of time searching on the internet; in repose, he is either actively resting or attending to necessary planning for future action. In other words, he’s doing some truth-seeking when it looks like he’s just sitting there. Philosophy is, after all, what he is known for, these two hundred years later.

Paraphrasing Emerson again: The truth-seeker does not allow his views to be set in stone. A truth magnet repels people and forces and agencies that would pull in any other direction. To be thoroughly committed to the truth is to tolerate the risk of being wrong, which only costs time; there is also the risk of isolation, when the truth goes against consensus opinion.

Love vs. Fear Is What We Call It Nowadays

“The love-fear dichotomy [is] really a cover for the inability to face reality…. In fear, people pull back and try to reintegrate our Separation. We see that happening in the world today. Nations breaking their old alliances, seeking to become more defensive. It’s all part of the one reaction to the movement of the world itself. In this case, a resistance to that movement for its greater integration.” –Marshall Vian Summers addressing the Worldwide Community

A current ad campaign shows two babies, apparently equally endowed, except as the caption says, one has a mother, the other has not. One faces life with its basic needs met; the other will face the existential crisis much sooner.

The child whose needs are urgent will find out what works in life with far more agility than the child whose needs are met. And also what doesn’t work, tragically.

“The great saints amongst you will come from the poor even more than the rich. The great inventors, the great physicians, the great engineers, the great craftsmen, the great politicians, the great leaders of humanity will so often come from the lowest ranks of society. History has proven this.”

“The wealthy are far more deluded than the poor. They are far more distracted. They are far more seduced. They have far greater attachments to things of little value than do the poor.” —Poverty Quotes on the New Message from God wiki

Go Deeper to Learn the Real Difference Between Truth and Repose

Listening for Knowledge

Seeing, Knowing and Taking Action

The key paragraph from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Intellect” and the full essay.

The New Message from God on The Greater Intelligence

“At certain important junctures in your life where real outer change is needed, if you do not respond and take action, Knowledge has to wait. This holds everything up. The movement of your life is held back and Knowledge becomes silent waiting for you. You become stalled on the side of the mountain wondering why you cannot seem to make progress. If you find yourself in this situation, ask yourself and ask Knowledge “is there something I must do in my life now?” Ask this with the courage and intention to take action.” –Marshall Vian Summers addressing the Worldwide Community

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