People often quote the Hindu saying “One truth, many paths” when talking about religious tolerance. I’m not sure what the saying originally meant, but I do know it has been transformed by Westerners into meaning “respect the rights of others to worship God how they see fit” with the idea that there are many ways to find the one God. I like the sentiment. I happen to think faith is an individual path, and each person has to find his or her own way.
I had a friend (I say had because my friend is dead now, not because I think friendship itself every really dies) who liked to turn that phrase around to say, “One path, many truths.” He did this to be contrary and to get a rise out of people, but he also had a brilliant point. By his way of thinking, we’re all headed down the same road, but we all have our own truths about how we are traveling and what we are seeing and who we even are as we make our way down the road. One path, many truths. There’s only one journey, but we all have a different story about what it means.
I like this way of thinking too, and I’ve reminded myself of it many times when I found myself in disagreement with another person. One path, many truths. No matter who you are, you always have a different story to tell than the person right next to you. No matter how right you are, there is always another way to tell the story in which you are the one in the wrong.
One path, many truths. Whatever you are telling yourself is the truth, there is always another truth. There is always another perspective.
You might be wrong, and you might be right, but even if you are right, someone else has another truth to tell about the very same issue.
One path, many truths. One truth, many paths. Flipped either way, this is a lesson in humility and respect and reverence and compassion.
This is my lesson to myself today. Remember, Sharon, that your way is not the only way. Remember that your story is not the only story. Remember that your path is not the only path.
Whoever you are remember when you get frustrated with others or when you are tempted to judge that someone else always has another way of seeing things than you do right now.
And with that thought, I leave you with a message from a fellow Mississippian who has followed his own path.