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What is Truth?

Hoffman's portrait of ChristPart 26 of the Aquarian Gospel for Awakening

One of the more inexplicable traits of the Western mind that can be traced back for thousands of years is the idea that skepticism is sophisticated, that even a person who has faith will somehow keep a tinge of disbelief or suspicion in spiritual matters, particularly in relation to the “supernatural.” Somehow this is thought to mark out a level-headed person, free of gullibility. “Blind faith” is just about the worst expletive such urbane and worldly-wise can toss about.

The Romans particularly prided themselves on cynical self-satirization (not from others, you understand, only from themselves) which of course extended to their religion, and they were wont to say that nobody really believed in “the old gods” anymore, but that the Roman religion was a link with their heritage, a force for social cohesion, and should therefore not be dislodged. How condescending and tolerant! “How I envy the simple peasant his simple faith” has been a lament in the mouths of such jaded intellects for the last several centuries. Some, such as Thomas Hardy, even wrote poems about it. Ah, the burden of superior intelligence.

Pilate was one of these uppercrust unbelievers. When Jesus told him: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,…Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out” (John 18:37, 38). He did not even pause to see if Jesus would give a fatuous answer he could smirk at and pass off in scornful silence or with a telling bon mot. (Perhaps he could not take the risk?).

A prior conversation

Nearly twenty years before Jesus spoke with Pilate, He had lived in the great temple of Jagannath in Puri (Orissa). There one of His closest friends was a Brahmin priest named Lamaas.

“Among the priests of Jagannath was one who loved the Jewish boy. Lamaas Bramas was the name by which the priest was known. One day as Jesus and Lamaas walked alone in plaza Jagannath, Lamaas said, My Jewish master, what is truth?

“And Jesus said, Truth is the only thing that changes not. In all the world there are two things; the one is truth; the other falsehood is; and truth is that which is, and falsehood that which seems to be. Now truth is aught, and has no cause, and yet it is the cause of everything. Falsehood is naught, and yet it is the manifest of aught. Whatever has been made will be unmade; that which begins must end. All things that can be seen by human eyes are manifests of aught, are naught, and so must pass away. The things we see are but reflexes just appearing, while the ethers vibrate so and so, and when conditions change they disappear. The Holy Breath is truth; is that which was, and is, and evermore shall be; it cannot change nor pass away” (Aquarian Gospel 22:2-10).

I challenge anyone to find any writing of religion, philosophy, or holy scripture that say this any better. In fact most of them do not even say these vital truths at all.

Change and decay…

The hymn says: “Change and decay all around I see.” Who can say this is not his experience as well? What does not change? Jesus says that truth does not change, but we come back to the question: What is truth? It is true that I am writing these words. Once I stop, it will no longer be true. It is true that one and one are two, but what happens when all relativity is resolved back into the One and the possibility of “one” as an object it no longer there, what to say of “two”? Yes; only the One is true. That is why in India God is called Sat–the Real, the True.


In all the world there are two things; the one is truth; the other falsehood is; and truth is that which is, and falsehood that which seems to be. Books upon books have been written on this subject. Life is like a motion picture. When the light shines on the screen we see colors, forms, and motion. People are born, live, and die right before our gaze. But they do not. Everything we see is only a modification of the single beam of light coming from the projector. But it passes through the film and overlays the screen as all we behold. When the movie is over the light is turned off and only the blank screen remains–unchanged. So God is the reality that underlies all illusion projected by our mind onto the screen of our awareness or by the cosmic will of God upon Himself. God is the great Magician, the great Illusionist–and we are little apprentices in magic and illusion.

No one denounces motion pictures as lies, false though they be. Why? Because they are not meant to deceive anyone. Everyone in the theater knows that only the screen is there. We, too, know this deep within, but we have blocked it out of our consciousness for time out of mind. The illusion is not evil–it is just illusion. And it has a purpose. Life is an educational training film if we will observe it and learn as we should. All about us is a mere appearance, but an appearance with an intelligent purpose which we must learn and benefit from. Becoming able to see through the illusion to the reality behind it is one of its major purposes.


Now truth is aught, and has no cause, and yet it is the cause of everything. Usually we think of “aught” as meaning “anything” in an intentionally vague sense. But it also means one. When I was a child, older people sometimes spoke of the year 1917 as “nineteen aught and seven.” So Jesus is saying that God is the One that is the Cause of the Many (everything). Yet, God has no cause whatsoever, but is Self-existent. If we look to the depths of anything we will discover God as its source. Even evil? Yes, for evil is not an entity in itself but a state of the distortion of good. All things do originate in God and return to God whether that is readily perceptible or not.


Falsehood is naught, and yet it is the manifest of aught. This affirms what I have just written, but is even broader. All that (at least in appearance) is not God is Zero. That is, it has no self-existence, but is only a modification of That Which Is. Why does Jesus call it falsehood? Because we see it falsely. If we “see true” we will see the True. Jesus is telling us that the world is real and true because it emanates from God; but our interpretation is false, so to us it is Falsehood. But only in our own minds. If we see with the Divine Eye it will be seen as a revelation of Truth. So we should not reflexively turn away or push away anything, but try to see its true nature. Then we may turn or push away, but with a right understanding. The Bhagavad Gita sums it up rightly: we should see all things in God and God in all things.


Whatever has been made will be unmade; that which begins must end.” Sri Ma Anandamayi often said: “Getting implies losing,” and also emphasized that whatever has a beginning must have an ending. If we can really hold this perspective we will live our life in a perfectly realistic (truthful) way. We have to understand what is eternal and what is temporal and value and react to it accordingly. A poem was popular in the nineteenth and early twentieth century about a king who had a ring engraved with the words: “Even this shall pass away.” Throughout his life when bad and good times came, he was always saved from becoming lost in the experience of them and over-reacting to them by looking at the ring and being reminded that “even this shall pass away.” Finally the time of his death came. His hands were folded on his chest, and a ray of light struck the ring, drawing his attention to the inscription: “Even this shall pass away.”

None of these things Jesus is saying is said for the mere sake of intellectuality and philosophizing. It is intended to help us live our life meaningfully.

All things that can be seen by human eyes are manifests of aught, are naught, and so must pass away. This perspective is perfection. “All that we see or seem” (the opening words of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe) are manifestations of God, but their momentary appearance is nothing in the final analysis. Since they must pass away, as sensible people we will not try to make them everlasting. We may use or enjoy them, but we know they will not be with us forever. Grabbing and holding on to them as though they could ever be ours is to court frustration and misery.

The things we see are but reflexes just appearing, while the ethers vibrate so and so, and when conditions change they disappear. All “things” internal and external, including emotions and thoughts, are waves or whorls in the vast energy field of creation that is the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit). They rise (appear) on the surface of the sea of relative existence, remain for a time, and then resolve (disappear) back into the sea. The sea alone remains forever, for:


The Holy Breath is truth; is that which was, and is, and evermore shall be; it cannot change nor pass away. In other words, all that was, is, and shall be are really manifests of the Holy Breath, the Divine Power of God, the Holy Spirit Mother. If we can unite our consciousness with the Holy Breath through meditation we will be enabled to see the “truth” of all things and not be distracted or confused by their “untruth”–their mere appearance. This will be immorality.

One of the greatest mystics of the West is completely unrecognized because of her literary reputation. Emily Bronte was a remarkable self-developed mystic whose poems contain some of the best descriptions of mystical experience, including the state of samadhi. Shortly before dying of tuberculosis (a death she had predicted at the age of eight or nine), she wrote this poem:

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heaven’s glories shine,
And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear.
O God within my breast,
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life, that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee!
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men’s hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,
To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thy infinity,
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.
With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.
Though earth and moon were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.
There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou–thou art Being and Breath,
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

This, too, cannot be expressed any better than it is here by the Yogini of Haworth.

Read the next section in the Aquarian Gospel for Yogis: What Is Man?

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The Aquarian Gospel—Commentary and Text

The Aquarian Gospel for Awakening—A Commentary on the Aquarian Gospel
by Swami Nirmalananda Giri (Abbot George Burke)

  1. The Mother of Jesus
  2. Prophecies of the Births of Saint John the Baptist and Jesus
  3. The Birth of Jesus
  4. Revelations in the Temple
  5. Coming of the Wise Men
  6. Herod’s Reaction
  7. Revelations in Egypt
  8. The Two Selfs
  9. Deliverance From Gods and Demons
  10. About God the Tao
  11. From India to Chaldea
  12. The Wisdom of Buddha
  13. God and Prayer
  14. The Mission of Jesus and John the Baptist
  15. Sin and the Forgiveness of Sin
  16. The Universal Law of Man’s Free Will and the Divine Will For Man
  17. Understanding Death
  18. The True Teacher
  19. The Value of Ritual
  20. The Law Behind All Laws
  21. Opening To The Truth
  22. In the Temple at the Age of Ten
  23. Revelation to the Teachers and People in the Temple
  24. Jerusalem to Nazareth
  25. Nazareth to India
  26. What is Truth?
  27. What Is Man?
  28. What is Power?
  29. Understanding
  30. Wisdom
  31. Faith
  32. Healing and Healers
  33. Conflict Over Caste
  34. The Destiny of All Men
  35. God and Man
  36. The Voice in the Heart
  37. Seeing the Unseeable
  38. To God Through Man
  39. Who Is Jesus?
  40. The Real Versus The Apparent
  41. The Brotherhood of Life
  42. God…and Man
  43. Relating To God
  44. The Worthy Host
  45. Come to the Light
  46. The Kingdom Revealed
  47. The King Revealed
  48. Perspective On Death
  49. Fire and Sword
  50. Evolution: The Path of Glory
  51. The Real Heaven
  52. Getting to the Essence
  53. New Perspective on Religion
  54. In Tibet and Ladakh
  55. Words to the Worthy
  56. The Thirty-Eighth Chapter
  57. The Origin of Evil
  58. The Silence
  59. The Source of Healing
  60. The Fivefold Gospel
  61. Homecoming
  62. In Athens
  63. The Oracle of Delphi
  64. The Real God
  65. Return to Egypt
  66. First Steps to Wisdom
  67. Strong in Will and Intent
  68. Here Comes the Ego
  69. Blessed are the Merciful
  70. Claiming Our Freedom
  71. The Great Test
  72. Comprehending Death
  73. The Christ!
  74. The Asembly of the Masters
  75. The Seven Pillars of the Aquarian Age – I
  76. The Seven Pillars of the Aquarian Age – II
  77. The Declaration of Jesus
  78. John the Baptist – I
  79. John the Baptist – II
  80. John the Baptist – III
  81. Baptism – Jesus and John
  82. Self-Examination and Temptation
  83. The First Disciples Follow Jesus
  84. Jesus’ First Sermon
  85. The King and the Kingdom
  86. Dealing With Challengers
  87. The First Miracle of Jesus
  88. Kings and Kingdoms
  89. The Temple of God
  90. What Is A Messiah?
  91. The Laws of Healing
  92. Nicodemus Finds The Kingdom
  93. The Prince of Peace
  94. Dealing With Spiritual Opposition
  95. The Opened Gate
  96. John the Baptist Speaks of the Christ
  97. John Speaks Further About Jesus
  98. The Woman at the Well
  99. The Disciples and Samaritans at the Well
  100. Jesus in Sychar
  101. More Wisdom In Samaria
  102. The Imprisonment of John the Baptist
  103. In Jerusalem
  104. The Insights of Jesus
  105. Sabbath Wisdom
  106. Prayer and Good Deeds
  107. Divine Laws and Principles for Seekers of the Divine
  108. A New Understanding of the Ten Commandments
  109. Aspects of the Higher Law – 1
  110. Aspects of the Higher Law – 2
  111. Aspects of the Higher Law – 3
  112. Aspects of the Higher Law – 4
  113. Chapter One Hundred One
  114. Chapter One Hundred Two
  115. Chapter One Hundred Three
  116. Chapter One Hundred Four
  117. Chapter One Hundred Five
  118. Chapter One Hundred Six
  119. Chapter One Hundred Seven
  120. Chapter One Hundred Eight
  121. Chapter One Hundred Nine
  122. Chapter One Hundred Ten
  123. Chapter One Hundred Eleven
  124. Chapter One Hundred Twelve
  125. Chapter One Hundred Thirteen
  126. Chapter One Hundred Fourteen
  127. Chapter One Hundred Fifteen
  128. Chapter One Hundred Sixteen
  129. Chapter One Hundred Seventeen
  130. Chapter One Hundred Eighteen
  131. Chapter One Hundred Nineteen
  132. Chapter One Hundred Twenty
  133. Chapter One Hundred Twenty One
  134. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Two
  135. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Three
  136. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Four
  137. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Five
  138. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Six
  139. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Seven
  140. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Eight
  141. Chapter One Hundred Twenty Nine
  142. Chapter One Hundred Thirty
  143. Chapter One Hundred Thirty One
  144. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Two
  145. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Three
  146. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Four
  147. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Five
  148. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Six
  149. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Seven
  150. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Eight
  151. Chapter One Hundred Thirty Nine
  152. Chapter One Hundred Forty
  153. Chapter One Hundred Forty One
  154. Chapter One Hundred Forty Two
  155. Chapter One Hundred Forty Three
  156. Chapter One Hundred Forty Four
  157. Chapter One Hundred Forty Five
  158. Chapter One Hundred Forty Six
  159. Chapter One Hundred Forty Seven
  160. Chapter One Hundred Forty Eight
  161. Chapter One Hundred Forty Nine
  162. Chapter One Hundred Fifty
  163. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-One
  164. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Two
  165. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Three
  166. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Four
  167. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Five
  168. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Six
  169. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Seven
  170. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Eight
  171. Chapter One Hundred Fifty-Nine
  172. Chapter One Hundred Sixty
  173. Chapter One Hundred Sixty One
  174. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Two
  175. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Three
  176. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Four
  177. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Five
  178. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Six
  179. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Seven
  180. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Eight
  181. Chapter One Hundred Sixty Nine
  182. Chapter One Hundred Seventy
  183. Chapter One Hundred Seventy One
  184. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Two
  185. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Three
  186. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Four
  187. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Five
  188. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Six
  189. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Seven
  190. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Eight
  191. Chapter One Hundred Seventy Nine
  192. Chapter One Hundred Eighty
  193. Chapter One Hundred Eighty One
  194. Chapter One Hundred Eighty Two

The Text of the Aquarian Gospel—by Levi Dowling

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