“Every man during his life finds himself in regard to truth in the position of a man walking in the darkness with light thrown before him by the lantern he carries. He does not see what is not yet lighted up by the lantern; he does not see what he has passed which is hidden in the darkness; but at every stage of his journey he sees what is lighted up by the lantern, and he can always choose one side or the other of the road.
There are always unseen truths not yet revealed to the man’s intellectual vision, and there are other truths outlived, forgotten, and assimilated by him, and there are also certain truths that rise up before the light of his reason and require his recognition. And it is in the recognition or non-recognition of these truths that what we call his freedom is manifested.” – Leo Tolstoy
Contrary to longstanding popular opinion, man is not free to the degree that he accumulate material possessions. Neither is he free to the measure that he accumulates facts and figures in his mind. He is only free only to the extent that he recognizes and acknowledges truths being revealed to him in any given moment.
Liberty derives not from license, but from the accommodation and profession of truth. Truth is the ever-expanding word of creation, the logos, as it was once put. Each man must choose to acknowledge and coordinate his actions with the pattern of truth presently manifest, or he can ignore or dismiss it and labor against the progress of life.
All struggle proceeds from the failure to harmonize with the momentary convergence of truths. A horseman unaware of the constantly shifting patterns of truth relating to his balance, his mount’s balance and the interplay of the two shall invariably exacerbate the imbalances. A chef who refuses to acknowledge the principles of truth which govern taste, texture and aesthetic beauty shall forever be combining that which ought not to be, at the expense of those whom he serves. A leader who imposes his self-centered will upon those whom he leads and thus ignores the principles of truth at focus within his sphere of influence shall eventually be toppled.
The river of truth courses through all things. Move with it and the experience of life is flowing, peaceful, exhilarating and fulfilling. Movement contrariwise constrains only to frustration, disappointment and exhaustion.
Man is free to recognize or to rebuff the truths at hand, but he cannot choose the latter with impunity. No matter how hard he tries to busy his heart and mind with trifling externalities – what others are saying or doing, how pleasant or undesirable his circumstances may be at the moment, etc. – his fundamental duty and, incidentally, the true exercise of his highest authority, is to make this choice in each and every moment.