There are a lot of books out there, many written by authors of great inspiration. Although reading seems to go in and out of fashion, largely due to the fact that people seem to find great difficulty in holding onto a coherent thought for more than a minute or two at a time, books still have a great impact on tens of millions of lives around the globe. There are works of fiction and nonfiction, and there are historical texts. You can find how-to books, autobiographies, and entire wings of bookstores are dedicated to self-improvement. And then there are the books that tell you how to live your life.
Essentially, the author is trying to impose his version of the truth onto your life and your circumstances, through the form of the written word. Despite its apparent waning popularity, the written word still exerts an incredible amount of influence over the lives of the populace. This is largely due to the fact that an individual can pore over the manuscript repeatedly for hours or even days, dissecting and reevaluating passages, phrases, words, and even punctuation in order to coax the meaning from the text that will give him the answers he seeks.
I’m inclined to wonder what makes any particular author the authority of that which is true in my life. Or your life. Or anybody’s life, except his own. I understand there are some pretty powerful tomes out there. Weighty pieces of work that speak the word of God, in the many names that people use to reference Him (or Them). And there are guides like the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous that endeavor to help escort people from the throes of addiction back to a healthy life.
What if the truth can't be found in the pages of a book after all? Perhaps the Truth - your “Truth” , as it specifically pertains to you, in your life, at this point in time, corresponding to and deriving from your thoughts, your actions, and your experiences - can only be found within yourself. No one can just hand you the Truth. You have to work for it. You have to earn it by actively seeking it. Meditate, devote time to self-introspection, climb a mountain, spend time in nature, commune with those who would help you look at things differently (not with absolutes and ultimatums, but with suggestions and new perspectives). There are as many paths to the Truth within yourself as there are books that would place it there for you, without any effort on your part. Truth doesn't come to the sheep. It comes to the hunter.
Much can be gained by referencing as many external sources as possible in your pursuit of Truth. There is a great body of work dedicated to finding it and understanding it, and you can learn a lot from the efforts of those who have come before you. But because you are the only one who exists exactly in your time and space, it is only you who can ultimately decide just how exactly you fit in there. It is only you who can grasp Truth, as it defines you and how you define it. Trying to insert someone else’s Truth into your reality is like going shopping for a suit that fits. You see the styles that look good on other people, and there are many brands, shapes and sizes to choose from. But ultimately, there is always compromise to be made, because it was not custom-made for you.
The problem with shopping for a version of Truth that you find is an acceptable fit to your life - rather than building your own - is you end up with something that has been mass-produced. It has been watered down so as to accommodate as many lives as possible. By gratifying a few basic needs, such as security, acceptance, or the promise of a reward for prescribed behaviors, it attracts as large an audience as possible. There is strength in numbers. This breeds validation for followers and power for those who spout the rhetoric of their Truth.
Beware those who would impose their Truth on you through fear of impending consequences for not heeding their call. They may have an agenda. And that agenda may be a lot worse than the imagined consequences they claim they can keep you safe from. There is absolutely nothing wrong with borrowing and test-driving pieces of their prescribed lifestyle and behaviors. Study them with an open mind and see how they speak to your mind and heart when you enact them. This is how your truth evolves with you as you evolve with the passage of time. But don’t force ideas and ideals to fit you, nor force yourself to fit them. If they don’t speak to your soul, do not hesitate to throw them out and move on!
Truth, as it pertains to you, is not a model or an object that exists outside of you that must be located, acquired, and operated, like a used car. It is created within your thoughts and inspiration. It is then manifested in your life through action. When there is discomfort in your life, ask yourself :
Have you actively sought your Truth, or did you follow the crowd and end up there?
Did you reach for your Truth with open eyes, ears, mind, and heart, or was it thrust upon you?
Has your Truth encouraged change and growth in your life, or has it limited you?
Have you stepped into your Truth with confidence and joy, or did you receive it with hesitation and fear?
You are more than the equation 2 + 2 = 4 . You are more than a mindless array of zeroes and ones. The energy that forms you, your reality, and the relationship among them needs constant monitoring. The ultimate authority to oversee this process is you.