One of the useful lessons I learned from Professor Louis Cognet, the head of the spirituality department at the Institut Catholique de Paris when I was studying there from 1967-1970 was this: “Sometimes it is best to go to the opposite of a spiritual concept first in order to get to the fuller meaning of that concept.”
Try this some time. If you want to know what justice is, go to its opposite first: Injustice. Listen to the stories of women in Texas today being denied health care who are in troubled pregnancies to learn what a blanket law dismantling abortion rights really means. Go to the victims of wildfires and increased numbers and forces of hurricanes to know what eco-justice really means.
And consider engines of lies and falsehoods to know what truth means. Go to the opposite of truth first.
Most all of us saw the violent insurrection of January 6 in our living rooms on our television sets. Now we have a big shot broadcaster making $35 million a year, with his hands on 45,000 hours of footage of the invasion of the capitol because of which five people lost their lives and hundreds of others were maimed in body and soul from the trauma of it all, telling us that things were just fine. Sightseeing was going on and that is what counts.
Notice how the power of ideology can trample truth. And how ambition from the head of congress, who gave him exclusive right to that footage, can distort truth. And kill truth. And maim and murder truth.
What are the repercussions of such actions? Can a society endure sans truth? What pressures are put on society when truth is lost or distorted beyond recognition? What about a corporation that makes fat bucks on broadcasting such lies? Does money-making get any dirtier than that? Is capitalism not beaming its deepest ugliness and shadow when it beams big lies to the general public? And its pooh-bahs admit in private emails behind the scenes that it knows it is selling lies? Is this the path to killing democracy altogether?
It is not an easy meditation to meditate on the opposite of truth (or good or beauty). But it is a necessary one at times. It can lead to a greater love and appreciation of truth perhaps. And change how corporations and media work. Perhaps.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 333-358.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: TELL THE TRUTH. This photo was taken during a protest against global warming, but it applies in all situations, and especially with regard to the media. Photo by Joël de Vriend on Unsplash
Queries for Contemplation
Do you believe a society or community can survive without a commitment to truth and truth-seeking? What about the profession of journalism?
Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society
Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them.
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science. A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics