Acting According To Divine Truth
My father was born in Iran, home of Rumi, the Sufi master. For years, these words from one of Rumi’s poems greeted my students on the door to my classroom: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
I’m still searching for this field.
In a way, my spiritual and religious journey is really just an ongoing quest to sense, as often as I can, the Divine Truth, which is a truth that exists outside of being right and being wrong. Whenever I sense this Divine Truth, I find that I act in a way that brings a little more love and a little more peace into the world.
This may sound philosophical, but to me it has super practical implications. Especially as a parent. After all, if it’s my job to guide a young human being through the beginning of life, I need to know what I’m doing in my own life and why I’m doing it.
I’ve heard other parents joke that we’re often just “winging it” when it comes to raising kids, and to a certain extent this is true. Without question, though, it’s invaluable for us to be able to discern Divine Truth, which helps us make decisions—big ones and little ones—that are best for ourselves and our families.
In my experience, Divine Truth is something you feel, not think. I have also found, through life experience and contemplation, that there’s a mysterious but undeniable connection between love and Divine Truth. Like Divine Truth, love exists somewhere beyond rational thought—it’s in that field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing that Rumi describes. Love is not something we can intellectualize or even articulate well. It’s next to impossible to find words to accurately describe the love we feel for certain people in our lives, especially our kids.
Reflecting on this connection between love and Divine Truth has been incredibly helpful in my own efforts to discern Divine Truth, such as when I’ve thought about a difficult situation a million times yet still can’t figure out how to move forward. In these situations, I have learned to ask myself: How can I move forward with love for others? How can I move forward with love for myself?
Whatever I interpret to be the best answers to these questions helps me address difficult situations, and even not-so-difficult situations, in a way that feels authentic to myself. In other words, I feel better when my actions are directed by the way I answer these questions. I feel like I’m doing the right thing. This is the best way I’ve learned to make decisions based on Divine Truth.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus has some wisdom and assurance to share about this. You can almost hear the comforting tone in his voice as he tells his disciples (and us), “You know [the Holy Spirit], because [the Holy Spirit] abides with you, and [the Holy Spirit] will be in you” (John 14:17).
Isn’t this lovely? The Holy Spirit is in us and with us.
Part of having faith seems to be trusting that we can discern Divine Truth, and in turn, make decisions that reflect it. The Holy Spirit—our inner light, our inner guidance—is the Divine Truth that’s always in us and always with us.
Divine Truth also exists outside of ourselves, of course. In his book What Is The Bible?, Rob Bell talks about Divine Truth as “the word of God,” and he reminds us of an important point that the Biblical writers want to make clear:
“It’s as if the writers [of the Bible] keep saying, Open your eyes, look around, listen, and pay attention, God is always speaking—the whole thing is a word [of God].”
In other words, Divine Truth is everywhere—it’s all around us—and if we open our eyes and hearts, we’ll see it and feel it. We’ll notice the things that people say and do that resonate in the deepest core of our being, and we can learn to act according to their example.
Acting according to Divine Truth isn’t always easy, though. It often means making ourselves vulnerable, doing and saying things that most people don’t do and say, and no longer keeping score in our relationships. This is why this work is called spiritual practice. It’s difficult work, and we have to practice doing it.
The good news is that there is deep, abiding peace and happiness that bolsters us as we do this work, because we’re acting out of genuine love. When we act out of genuine love, we know intuitively that we’re doing something good. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he says that love “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.”
Let’s remember that love, in all its mysteries, is always available to teach us and our kids. Divine Truth isn’t far away at all. Both individually and collectively, the more we look to it for inspiration, the better off we’ll be.