They say that the starting point of spiritual inquiry is genuine interest in the Ultimate Truth.
I think if we are genuinely interested in the Truth, we must begin with questioning that which we know (or think we know). Because there might be a lot of things, which we think are true, but aren’t.
The important question is – what do we know for certain? What do you know for certain?
You might say, ‘I know that the Earth revolves around the Sun.’
First of all, is that first hand knowledge or something that you heard/read? Because if it is second hand knowledge, it’s a belief, not a verified fact (or truth). Yes, you might choose to believe in what scientists have verified through research, but in that case you are believing the findings of the research. Unless, you verify it for yourself, you can not claim that you know it for certain.
Thus, the ‘facts’ you think are true for sure, should be verified by first hand experience and testing before you claim them with certainty.
This might narrow down the inquiry to perceptual experience. Let’s say there’s a table in front of you and a red apple is kept on it. You might argue that you are certain that the apple kept on the table is red in colour. But is that True? We know that human eye is capable of perceiving a frequency of light only if it falls in the visible spectrum. Any light below or above that frequency range won’t be perceivable by the human eye. Now, the apple appears to be red because it reflects all frequencies of light other than that of colour red. That’s Perception 101.
But what if the surface of apple also doesn’t reflect certain frequencies of light which aren’t perceivable to the human eye? In that case, the actual colour of the apple would not be perceived by us.
The important point to note here is that we only perceive what our sense organs allow us to perceive.
Let’s look at the same situation through another angle. Let’s say there is a colour-blind animal perceiving the apple. Now, this animal can never be convinced that the colour of apple is not grey. Because grey is how it appears to be to this animal.
Whatever we are believing to be true, is because it’s appearing to us that way. This is true for our perceptual experience as well.
The above argument can also be made for the sensory experience of hearing, tasting, smelling and touching.
Also consider this. Whatever we are experiencing around us, we are doing so through our five senses. What if there exists something which can not be perceived by our sense organs? We would have no way of knowing whether it exists or not.
Let’s again return to the question, what do we know for certain?
You might be wondering how is all this relevant to the spiritual inquiry?
The point is that if we want to get to the Truth, I think we must first begin with questioning that which appears to be true.
Whatever we do know, is not True.
It might be true on relative level.
But then that’s not the Ultimate Truth.