Truth word on group of stones on the sand

Truth is that which is in accord with reality, fact, and experience, that which is authentic. Truth can include facts, and truth can include a coherence with experience. The word in English derives from an older word similar to that meaning faithful (truth is that which is faithful to reality or experience), and ultimately is derived from a root meaning tree. To be truthful is to be as straight and strong as a tree. Other languages have words for truth (veritas, pravda, etc.) that have different derivations.

These quotations explore aspects of truth and truth-telling.

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Education is the attempt to ‘lead out’ from within the self a core of wisdom that has the power to resist falsehood and live in the light of truth, not by external norms but by reasoned and reflective self-determination.

— Parker J. Palmer

I want my inner truth to be the plumb line for the choices I make about my life — about the work that I do and how I do it, about the relationships I enter into and how I conduct them.

— Parker J. Palmer

I want to learn how to hold the paradoxical poles of my identity together, to embrace the profoundly opposite truths that my sense of self is deeply dependent on others dancing with me and that I still have a sense of self when no one wants to dance.

— Parker J. Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.

— Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

The soul speaks its truth only under quiet, inviting, and trustworthy conditions.

— Parker J. Palmer

Instead of telling our valuable stories, we seek safety in abstractions, speaking to each other about our opinions, ideas, and beliefs rather than about our lives. Academic culture blesses this practice by insisting that the more abstract our speech, the more likely we are to touch the universal truths that unite us. But what happens is exactly the reverse: as our discourse becomes more abstract, the less connected we feel. There is less sense of community among intellectuals than in the most ‘primitive’ society of storytellers.

— Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives, so far removed from the truth we hold within that we cannot know the integrity that comes from being what you are.

— Parker J. Palmer

Rightly understood, a myth is an effort to tell truths that cannot be told with mere facts or known by the senses and the mind alone, truths that take form only in that integrative place called the heart.

— Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

When we allow emotions to trump the intellect, we swallow “facts” that are demonstrably untrue, letting them fly around unchallenged in a mockery of civic discourse, supporting public figures who promote fictions to further their own cause.

— Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit

A universal skepticism is limited by its own criteria. If we assume it to be true, then it is false.

— Paul Kurtz

You never find yourself until you face the truth.

— Pearl Bailey

Every reporter inhales skepticism. You interview people, and they lie. You face public figures, diligently making notes or taping what is said, and they perform their interviews to fit a calculated script. The truth, alas, is always elusive.

— Pete Hamill

The key to wisdom is this constant and frequent questioning for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.

— Pierre Abelard

The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.

— Pierre Abelard

Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.

— Rabindranath Tagore

Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.

— Rabindranath Tagore

Truth is our element.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is not prayer a study of truth? No one ever prayed heartily without learning something.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The greatest homage we can pay to truth is to use it.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The highest compact we can make with our fellow is, — ‘Let there be truth between us two forever more.’

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth, and goodness, and beauty are but different faces of the same all.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

This fact, as far as it symbolizes the moral fact of the Unattainable, the flying Perfect, around which the hands of man can never meet, at once the inspirer and the condemner of every success, may conveniently serve us to connect many illustrations of human power in every department.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reform is affirmative, conservatism negative; conservatism goes for comfort, reform for truth.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.

— René Descartes

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.

— Rene Descartes

If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain…. In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.

— Richard Feynman
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