Choice and Consequence Part 6: Knowing What You Know

comments 15
Course Ideas / Reflections

Part 5 of the series is here.

I’ve suggested in this series that experience follows from the fundamental orientation of our perceptual apparatus. We each occupy a thought system through which meaning and identity emerge, and while we are each unique, there are but two possibilities for the cornerstone of such a system: what I’ve described as unity (reality) and what I’ve described as separation (image). I’ve also suggested this distinction is one that profoundly matters. Framed as a choice, it is the most consequential one any of us can make, as all else that we experience follows from it.

An important question, though, is this: how does one determine, and thus live by, what is true?

I took a few shots at answering this but they both turned into rambling cartwheels of prose. And I think this is pretty simple. Simple doesn’t mean easy to grasp, I suppose, or to accept, but complexity can obfuscate as easily as it can reveal. And this needn’t be complicated. So here goes…

Truth is what you know in the absence of facts.

It cannot be derived from evidence because no evidence can bear its weight.

It’s what you know in the fullness of your heart, from inside the event horizon that no words, languages or concepts can cross.

It cannot be justified and needs no defense, no apologists or expositors, no bureaucratic or institutional structures to uphold it, no dogmas, beliefs or tenets.

It is the aegis of being.

Truth is the basis we share, regardless of our circumstances.

Every point of a line contains its “truth,” but two are required to reveal it. The truth is similar. It is like a line drawn through each one of us. We discover it together.

If you’ve experienced the sharing of what cannot be contained, given what cannot be conserved, or received what cannot be rationed, then I think you have known, and lived by, the truth.

You have witnessed unity, the dimensionless content of who you are.


  1. words can be superfluous, truth goes beyond telling lies…using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to benefit only ourselves…thanks Michael always much for me to ponder🤓🙏🕊thanks for your writings ~ sending joy hedy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Hedy! Lovely to hear from you after another of my brief hiatuses… 🙂 Yes, my use of the word “truth” in this piece goes a little beyond the conventional usage. Necessarily I think. The reality of who we are, in the sacred quiet of our being, and own heart, and own mind, cannot be put on display or “rendered” in a static form. Every “snapshot” (excuse the pun, my photographer friend) is the witness, or trace, that attests to the movement of that which is true…

      Thanks for the joy. Sending the same to you!


  2. Lee Roetcisoender says

    Yesterday I watched a very recent youtube video on a discourse between Jordan Peterson and Roger Penrose. Penrose does not believe that mind and/or consciousness is computational; in other words, he does not believe that consciousness is the result of merely processing information and consequently, Peterson was quite perplexed by this position.

    The reason that Penrose does not believe consciousness is computational fits perfectly with your essay Michael. The short answer to why mind is not computational lies the realm of what Penrose expressed as “understanding”. Consciousness has the potential to, and can literally “know” something that a computer can never know, and that knowing is “understanding”, standing-under or being at one with something; and that state of “one-ness” cannot be conveyed to another, it can only be experienced. This indeed makes the experience of consciousness unique and unprecedented.

    One segment of the discourse that made me literally burst out loud with uncontrollable laughter was when they were discussing black holes. Peterson was regurgitating the dogma of what the party line of scientism teaches about what hypothetically happens to a person if they crossed the event horizon. Penrose is his calm, collected style interrupted Peterson and politely told him that all of this kind of talk is nonsense because nobody knows what actually happens on the other side of the event horizon: “but go ahead and continue with your story Jordan”……..

    Other topics included time. Penrose does not believe that time is fundamental and like everything else in our physical universe, time is emergent and relational. Peterson, like most individuals I’ve encountered was lost and quite confused when they entered the realm of time in their discourse.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Lee,

      Well, I ended up watching the entire dialogue between Penrose and Peterson. I felt they talked past each other for much of it, as it seemed that Peterson was out of his depth in terms of understanding enough of the science to follow the nuances of what Penrose was saying, and or his part I’m not sure Penrose understood quite where Peterson lost the track. So it was kind of amusing for a while in that regard. But I loved the ending, when Penrose spoke of the way the end of an expanding universe is indistinguishable from the physics of the big bang, and could in fact give birth to a cyclical phenomenon. That was one of my favorite parts and well worth the wait.

      I do think there’s some alignment between what Penrose was trying to say about “understanding” and what I’ve tried to sort of sketch out here. I’m not sure they are exactly the same, but also Lee, I think the realm of the non-computational can be just as immense and rarefied and replete with unique conditions as the realm of the computational. So, maybe we’re not saying exactly the same thing. But we’re contacting parts of a field of knowing that is in fact quite rich.

      I do love your second paragraph and the links you drew between understanding and “being at one with something.” I think this cuts to the quick of it, this being-at-one-with experience. Being at one with oneself is an interesting way, perhaps, to think of the precondition for experiencing the contents of being that cannot really be fixed with words or symbols.

      And yes, Penrose was delightfully calm and composed as Peterson asked about the experience of time that a photon may have, or if a black hole is a little piece of the end of the universe present in the current time, etc. But as one of the commenters below the Youtube video pointed out, this was a great example of two very different forms of intelligence and the challenges they can have interacting. Jordan’s own professional arena is much more appropriate for the abstract and symbolic relationships that he has a tendency to explore. Kudos to Jordan for being curious about Penrose’s world…

      Peace to you as well, Lee.


    • Thanks, Brad! Yes… I think truth is revealed by relationships. It isn’t a stand-alone thing, you know? Relationships can be beautiful tools of revelation!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ka!

      So nice to hear from you. I saw a flurry of comments and look forward to reading when I have more time. It’s very cool that I posted after a brief hiatus and you came to life around the same time. I felt a kinship in that. I’ve been traveling for work the past few days and look forward to catching up soon. Love to you as well, my friend! Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michael,
    I can’t really buy the idea of knowing truth without evidence, facts, or their logical consequences. Maybe I’m just in that pre-grasping or pre-acceptance stage. But I do like your line analogy, and the idea that often we need many perspectives to understand something, perspectives we often can’t have except through others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike, I’m shocked! Haha.

      I’m appreciative you found a thread that resonated a bit, though. The truth I’m pointing towards here is not the sort of conclusion that can be supported by evidence and factual accounts. That of course is a certain type of truth, in the way we commonly use the word. There certainly can be accurate and inaccurate retellings of physical events, for instance. And of course repeated observations yield scientific truths. But I believe there is a form of knowing that stands apart from this type, and Lee has provided me with a great perspective on it, or insight into it, when he notes it is the knowledge of being at one with something.

      It is this that I think the relational points on a line reveal in some sense. Thanks for reading, Mike, and I wish you peace as well, my friend.


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this latest entry in this series. And especially the paragraph about the “truth line” that distinguishes the truth itself that is in every point, and the revelation of truth that happens only in relationship.

    Yes, so simple. The Bible says this. The Dao De Jing says this. I once was wading through a dense text written by my teacher’s (of Daoist healing arts) teacher. I was frustrated by the complexity and called my teacher to whine (in the guise of deep inquiry). The conversation went like this:

    me: Does this really have to be so complicated?
    him: No
    me: Um, can we talk about it some more?
    him: No
    me: Oh

    I had to laugh at myself — I had a simple answer and was trying to complicate it. Good lesson.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha. Great story, Galen! I’m glad you enjoyed this and can relate completely to your story… There’s a whole level of “knowing” that the thinking mind doesn’t know how to handle or access I think. It’s like it’s locked out, jumping up to see through a little window near the top of the door. What’s in there!? And then eventually it realizes it’s actually on the inside looking out and was entirely confused about the situation! And we quit jumping and turn around and the thinking pauses, and we realize there’s no other walls here besides the door, and we’re in this wild space with everything we’ll ever need…! It’s such a subtle switch…


      Liked by 1 person

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