Have I ever met a true skeptic?
I’ve known a few ‘skeptics’ in my day. The one I know best is myself, IF my definition of a skeptic is used (not expecting anyone else to share my definition, however). It tallies more with the ancient definition that did not include shutdown or attacking behaviour against others, as we are seeing abundantly in the so-called ‘skeptics’ of today.
My definition is: someone who is on a committed search for Truth, requiring solid proof of it (not restricted to reductionist science or intellectual argument) instead of blind belief, someone who will question the validity of appearances until reaching something essential that feels true and holds true, and ‘stands the test of time’.
Crucial in my definition of a true skeptic is genuine openness, that is, being open to all the possibilities and not excluding or ‘being blind’ to any because of a position of bias, fear, judgment, discomfort, comfort, vested interest, or any other agenda.
It is an openness that will allow the opportunity of actually feeling the Truth when it is right there, going: ‘Look at me!’ It is an openness to admit having held an off-track view or bias, and made mistakes based on it: in short, an uncompromising honesty with self and others. It is an openness also to accept that there is no perfection in this life, and that using lack of perfection as a justification for skepticism about something is a neat trick, but very dishonest.
With this openness must come the understanding that we look dispassionately at our own ‘beliefs’ again and again as new things come up that we should not ignore. It might mean our view has to be modified, or totally and uncomfortably thrown out, if it’s shown to be no longer correct or serving the bigger picture.
By my definition, I have met very, very few true skeptics in my life, even among the scientists. I aspire to be a seeker of Truth, and would happily throw out the word ‘skepticism’ as now being too loaded, contaminated and abused to be of any further use to humanity.
My ‘brownie points’ are I suppose, that throughout my life I’ve let go of a multitude of deeply held ‘pet beliefs’ when Truth came a ’knockin! Does that leave me empty? No way – fuller than ever! And yet, acknowledging imperfection and the gradual process of personal and group evolution, I’m sure I have many more beliefs yet to root out and discard…
From the Past… into the Future
There is a schism going on in science: on the one hand, modern physics is increasingly realising the utter connectedness and oneness of all, that everything is energy, that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, physical matter is illusory (although rather real to us), and that everything happens because of energy and consciousness.
On the other hand, the ‘old guard’, particularly in biology, is sticking to the view that all consciousness is merely a product of the mechanical behaviour of physical matter, i.e. in our brains.
A network of consequences of this materialist, reductionist, so-called scientific, so-called skeptical view of reality is that there is no divinity, no purpose, no big picture, no God, no higher love or mind, no ultimate good, no life beyond death, no real connection between people: we are all terrible islands of matter in a random universe of separated things.
There’s no point in being ethical, honest, religious, true and loving, all are a waste of time and energy. Why not just indulge, explore, play games, be ‘bad’, be ‘good’, do what you want? Nothing matters anyway. What dreadful emptiness this view gives rise to!
No matter how much the holder of such a view tries to fill that emptiness with relationships, work, wealth, pleasure, pain, peace, fighting, possessions and achievements of the mind and body, the self-created, un-fillable void is there niggling away in the background, influencing every choice, every moment of life.
This view also limits the ability of science to expand to its true capacity, as some modern scientists are coming to realise and express.
So here are some observations on a few of the beloved ersatz skeptics I have known personally – not of course devoid of my imperfect attempt to keep my judgement and biases out of it! But you’ll feel the picture. The reason I share this is to make very personal and relatable some of the strategies we humans use to avoid the truth, and hide under an apparently respectable cloak of ‘being skeptical’. Perhaps it will resonate with some and bring in a fresh wind of awareness.
Skeptic #1 subscribes to the above materialist, reductionist school of thought.
Skeptic #1’s way of denying and covering over and trying to fill the unfillable empty void that sprouted from lovelessness in childhood, that cannot be filled with relationships, work, pleasure, possessions and even outstanding achievements, is with drugs: mind-altering substances, any number, any amounts, any combination as required to not feel the emptiness.
But here’s the rub – how do you trust the thoughts and opinions of a mind that is constantly altered and swayed this way and that by recreational drugs? Although they may provide apparent epiphanies of perception, how ‘true’ are those perceptions? I speak from my own experience too, not of filling emptiness with drugs – I was a wake-up to that one at least – but testing them to see if there were any ‘valid answers’. Actually, no, there were not, and I quit completely.
Skeptic #1 rejected my expressions that consciousness is beyond physical brains, that separation is an illusion, that love is real and higher than emotions, and that life is full of meaning and connection.
Skeptic #1 often tried to win me back to drugs. It felt to me like an attempt to rationalise behaviour that was felt and known to be harmful by getting another to enjoin it. I would not, and this friendship fell away. I had begun to feel distrust and frustration with what felt to me like blindness, arrogance, inconsistency and harm associated with drug taking. I’m personally privy to the deep, old hurts that Skeptic #1 experienced as a child, and how they’ve continued to play out, unhealed and unaddressed, in adult life.
What Skeptic #1 is doing these days I don’t know, however perhaps the love and light dawned and true clarity was chosen instead of drugs. I feel to never give up on anyone – the seeds of healing lie dormant within all of us, and miracles do happen!
Skeptic #2 maintained an interesting, oscillating relationship with truth. Once again, I’m privy to the depth of personal childhood hurts and how these hurts have continued to run the self-beliefs, choices, attitudes, relationships and opinions of Skeptic #2.
Skeptic #2 dipped in and out of education and employment, a ‘course junkie’ for a while, but not following through with anything. This has had a big impact on the foundation of Skeptic #2’s living.
The course, job, project or activity would go along well for a while, providing much enjoyment and support. But then the ‘skepticism’ would rise to an intolerable level such that Skeptic #2 would turn around and denigrate that which had been providing satisfaction, and slide into dissatisfaction, self-criticism, depression, and rejection of the world and everyone in it; into a desolate cynicism that picked apart everything and found it wanting.
Every expert detail provided to meet acceptance was rejected… always more requirements, always more criticisms, always rejection, never satisfied. It kept looking like self-sabotage to me, but always blaming… blamed on another, and/or blamed on self.
An obvious question would be ‘why’? If there is genuine joy in anything in life to be found, why smash it and move away? Why the blaming and self-blame? It feels like an intentionally created vicious spiral. It feels like excuses – to not face or accept responsibility for one’s involvement in and commitment to life.
Skeptic #3 shared with me that they were deeply hurt by a parent’s consistent coldness and withholding of love.
Skeptic #3 expressed an enduring resentment and bitterness (and even disgust) for not having been loved as a child by the parent from whom that love was sought. To me it felt that what Skeptic #3 was most afraid of was admitting that the lack of love has been continued from within – they were not taking responsibility for loving and caring for themselves.
I feel it is for each human to connect to their own inner love, be it and express it, regardless of anyone else’s choice to be loving or not. At some point, we have to heal ourselves. Difficult as it may have been in childhood, continuing to blame someone else for not providing love is not true to who we are, nor is it a path to healing. We humans do not sit well with being untrue to the love that is our real essence, but we get entrenched in our habitual ways.
So in adulthood, when Skeptic #3 was dealing with a series of health problems which modern medicine was unable to help, those old habits were an obstacle to using some nourishing complementary therapies that were safe and effective. Skepticism reared its head, in the form of rejecting (from a position of ignorance) that there could be any value in complementary therapies, and not even wanting to find out.
Why would one not want to find out? Could it be there was denial and protection going on? How ironic that someone whose very profession and passion (science) was founded upon the ‘objective’ search for truth, should choose to suffer and be self-limited by the fear of truth! It was easier to go on suffering health problems (as a victim) than to look at the root cause of the suffering, and take responsibility for the years of choices that built it to the level that was now constantly being experienced.
Is it possible that to look at root causes would bring up guilt for being dishonest with themselves – in their choice to be angry, bitter, resentful and not self-loving over the years?
It amazed me that a scientist refused to look at the biology of nourishing the body. It made no sense. Then I realised that by doing so, Skeptic #3 would risk blowing the cover of victim-ness. Then the truth of the lack of taking responsibility for self-loving and self-nurturing would be revealed, the blaming of others for one’s own choices would also be revealed, and all would have to be faced, admitted, and addressed.
This blog is not about slamming my beloved ersatz skeptics and all the hundreds of others whom I know and love or may not know yet. It is about understanding human behaviour arising from hurts, the persistent feeling of emptiness that comes from those hurts and how they govern our way of expressing.
Who hasn’t been hurt? Who hasn’t acted at some time or another in a way they knew was not true to themselves? All hands up!! Readers may have begun to realise that practically every one of us has pockets of the same kinds of ‘skeptic’ behaviours as we’ve talked about here: protective behaviours based on hurts and beliefs about ourselves in our own lives, to varying degrees.
In other words, there is something (or many somethings) that we don’t want to look at, that we shy away from the truth of, because it would highlight our hurts, beliefs and our lack of taking responsibility in some areas of life.
If you dig below the surface of the behaviours that come from our hurts and beliefs, you’ll find that at heart all humans are loving and responsible. To be otherwise is a v-e-r-y uncomfortable admission of not being true to ourselves and to humanity!
So we hide and bury our untrue-ness and lack of responsibility, pretend to ourselves that there’s no issue to look at within, and use skepticism as a protective cover to prevent the truth from being revealed. It seems easier to suffer and cause suffering for a whole lifetime than to ‘fess up’ and do what must be done.
Ironically, the very taking of responsibility and doing what must be done is the exact cure for the ills brought about by the continued hiding behind ‘skepticism’, which isn’t really skepticism at all!
In truth, there is no emptiness or nothingness in the universe, including within us, so something must fill the void left when an ’empty’ person hides behind ‘skepticism’.
But what fills it? Could it be something else, something untrue that just makes things look the way we want them to, but ultimately leaves us feeling just as ’empty’? It’s a vicious spiral – and the tragic irony is that we really do know this all along and choose to keep covering it up.
Many self-avowed ‘skeptics’ (in fear, denial and protection) are very vocal in specifying exactly what conditions do and do not meet their criteria for truth. But as soon as you meet their ‘criteria’, they will find some other conditions to require – conditions that get more and more detailed, ridiculous and irrelevant as they go along.
Eventually, their conditions end up including things, people, activities or organisations that are not even the target of their criticism, quite the opposite, thus deepening the contradictions. In short, they can never be satisfied, because protection is the name of their game, and it’s such a powerful controller of them that they can’t even stop to accept the ludicrous self-contradictions that they communicate.
So, instead of choosing an ‘us and them’ way, could it be time to recognise the shades and grades of skepticism within us all as an indicator of how humanity is not living true to itself?
By ‘us and them’, I mean we comfortably run with – ‘good us, bad skeptics’ or ‘good skeptics, bad whomever-they-are-attacking’ (depending on which side of the fence you’re on). Whereas, if this little essay has revealed anything, it’s that there’s no ‘us and them’ for we are all the same inside and all equally responsible for our hurts and their effects upon our collective human life.
A harming skeptic who becomes abusive, e.g. by cyber-bullying or denigrating others in any way, must not go unchecked of course. Being ‘hurt’ is no excuse. In those cases they should be severely sanctioned and prevented from doing further harm.
However they are the extreme cases (though growing in number exponentially) of a humanity-wide continuum and we would do well to look at their actions in the context of a much bigger picture. As members of society it behooves us to step up and take responsibility for calling out every instance of untruth within ourselves as well as that which is going on around us, no matter how apparently uncomfortable or ‘trivial’ it may seem to be.
By Dianne Trussell
Religion, Philosophy and Science = Revelation
Giving Power back to Love: Making the Choice to not be Dominated by Hurt
Serge Benhayon brings philosophy to life
504 thoughts on “But are they Really ‘Skeptics’?”
Hurts can and do cause various problems in our lives; surely it makes sense to heal them, and let them go.
There are such negative connotations to this word that I am surprised to see it presented in a positive light – i’ve experienced “skeptics” who are arrogant and think up themselves, never really considered a seeker of truth a true seeker.
Skepticism, is inherently coming with a judge-ment and possibly even jealousy as another has not found a level of Truth and Love that supports them in the understanding of what appreciation can bring to our society. Appreciation builds True relationships with everyone and these are intimate in the way we can express to each other and not hold back the Truth, enriching life and thus evolutionary.
“Committed search for Truth” seems the fundamental requisite in my books for holding oneself as a true skeptic. And that by no shape or form includes putting another down, attacking anything or being dogmatic about one’s own view. Instead it means holding the awareness that none of us is capable of holding the vastness of the intelligence of the universe, so our level of understanding will never be the end point. Thus being open always to discovering a greater depth and awareness to that which is already known.
A skeptic is a believer, a believer in their own idea of truth. Any evidence to the contrary gives them their name as they are ‘skeptical’ towards that evidence. Does that feel rather silly?
Something that you shared here Dianne that I have been observing recently myself is how much of our own behaviours and therefore reactions have stemmed from previous hurts in our life. So much so that we even go public with them and the media play ball with them, thinking that they are creating a story, but all that they are doing is enjoining the circulation of the hurt. Like with many words we use I am sure there is a truth to what a sceptic means, but unfortunately, the current view is so far away from the truth that what we think is the truth is far from it.
Many of the words used today have been bastardised, they have lost their true meaning; we have moved far away from what Truth actually is.
“something essential that feels true and holds true, and ‘stands the test of time’.” The Ageless Wisdom holds true throughout the ages.
What I most dislike about skepticism is not so much the denial of truth by one person but more so how their actions greatly impact on others equally having open access to the same truth because the skepticism reactions from their hurts muddy the water with lies
I like the ancient definition of a true sceptic. I try things out and am not convinced until they stand the test of time. Once it feels true in my body and is unshakable for me then I am no longer a sceptic, that is all the proof I need. Science can prove black is white and vice versa, so I would rather consult the honesty of my body.
Test if something is true for ourselves by using the wisdom of our body.
I love the open, fluid attitude of your definition of true skeptics. I can feel there’s genuine interest and pull to Truth, and no attachment to being right.
Thank you Dianne for deepening my understanding of what the meaning of a skeptic is. What you have shared makes sense. Our openness to life and to people will vary depending on our own experiences, what we have learned by them and how we have worked through our feelings of hurt. I certainly know people who have been hurt a lot through life, but they have not tarnished their openness to life and to people because of this.
If we allow our hurts to take over we disconnect from our essence, this gives space for other energies to take hold that can seek to harm and reduce those that are living truth and love.
The feeling of a skeptic is separation and non-closeness, and this is not love.
Skeptics are ones who do not want to know what they know so they play dumb to what they know and gorge at that.
The more open we are to the possibilities the more aware we become of what holds us back.
Very true, it is worth being skeptical about ideas that don’t increase our awareness.
Thank you Dianne for this understanding of skepticism – it makes total sense that in holding deep hurts within and not wanting to feel this emptiness, this colours our view and experience of the world and influences the way in which we express.
“It is about understanding human behaviour arising from hurts, the persistent feeling of emptiness that comes from those hurts and how they govern our way of expressing”.
Thank you Dianne for bringing to light what is really going on behind the actions of ‘skeptics’ in the sense that they are really not even truly open to the Truth and merely protecting themselves from further hurts by putting conditions on everything. I can admit that I have been one to be in a lot of reaction to skeptics as they always seemed to me to not really want to see the Truth even if it is staring them in the face, and seemed like chameleons when it came to changing their criteria on what they needed for ‘proof’. But you brought a whole other level of understanding here that really is helpful in dropping the judgment I have had.
The other thing I like about this article is that it invites all of us to keep vigilant, to be open to addressing anywhere our thoughts, hurts or beliefs are keeping us stuck in a limited way of thinking and living. Being aware of the skeptic within and addressing what pops up when it appears in our life.
This article deeply exposes the power old hurts, thoughts and emotions can have over our lives. It also explains with loving clarity that this doesn’t have to be the case.
“No matter how much the holder of such a view tries to fill that emptiness with relationships, work, wealth, pleasure, pain, peace, fighting, possessions and achievements of the mind and body, the self-created, un-fillable void is there niggling away in the background, influencing every choice, every moment of life.”
The constant feeling of emptiness inside is a ferocious drive that pushes us to constantly look for the next thing, that just maybe will fill us, but nothing is long lasting and we are again in the search before long. This is a very driven, exhaustive way to live life. But, we always have the constant choice to stop, let go of what we know doesn’t work and allow what we know to be true to again guide our choices.
Emptiness inside can mean we constantly search for fulfilment on the outside, and so get caught on the hamster wheel going round and round, yet nothing truly changes.
I would doubt that most skeptics have that search for truth built in, but instead start the approach with a negativity coupled with being shut down to open inquiry. The instinct is to say ‘No’ rather than to take that moment to feel what is being presented first before then making a judgement or appraisal.
‘At some point, we have to heal ourselves.’ Yes, pure gold Dianne. Living a life of victimhood must at some point be healed with responsibility for our ourselves. We may have been hurt at some point – and most if not all of us have been, but we don’t have to continue hurting ourselves.
Wonderful Dianne Trussell – thank you. True skepticism is probably a healthy thing, leading to a discerning approach to life but one that remains open to the discovery of what is true. What commonly stands for skepticism today though, feels more like cynicism fuelled by bitterness, self-interest and as you share here, the protection of our hurts. I don’t have an issue with a true skeptic – I have no doubt been one myself. What I do take issue with though is when skepticism becomes a personal attack on another, or a group of others who ‘find differently’ and live differently. There is no openness in this, and hence no true willingness to learn and discover what is and is not true. In this there is no love or honouring of each other – and no real opportunity to move forward and evolve. It is very possible to explore without cynicism, accepting with true decency what others have chosen in their lives. Where this acceptance and of others and openness to discover what is true is not present, there is something very amiss and something to look at within.
“being open to all the possibilities” including the possibility that our hurts prevent us from knowing the truth.
A super powerful article, such observations of human behaviours is much needed, as we all feel this with people, and if we are honest within ourselves. To have a healthy relationship with scepticism is one that will bring back to us the truth of humanity, our choices and reveal the value in feeling our behaviours.
“I feel it is for each human to connect to their own inner love, be it and express it, regardless of anyone else’s choice to be loving or not. At some point, we have to heal ourselves.” The choice to heal can only ever come from ourselves.
‘Genuine openness’ and the willingness to make and admit mistakes rather than hiding inside the solid fortress of so-called skepticism are the hallmarks of a true skeptic; someone who is willing to probe, discover, be surprised, find the unexpected, work for the good of all and not to shore up and defend personal hurts and disappointments.
When we get it and see that we can no longer blame our parents for the situation we find ourselves in we begin to take responsibility for creating our own lives. Our purpose changes where we become committed and focussed within instead of creating an agenda on the outside to avoid dealing with our hurts and the responsibility of living true to ourselves.
When answering questions like ” But are they really skeptics?…. ” can a person be a catholic “, ” can a person be a jew ” etc . The truth will always be no and the answer being no is from observing babies. And then from observing children who are turned into ” catholics ” by their family. A skeptic is formed from baby to child when they are turned ‘into something’ , then from ”the something’ into a skeptic . The skeptic is a consequence of ‘the something’ and therefore will always be influenced by ‘the something’ , until they get underneath ‘the something’ that has formed them to be skeptics.
The etymology of the word skeptic leads us to the Greek skeptikos (plural Skeptikoi “the Skeptics, followers of Pyrrho”), noun use of adjective meaning “inquiring, reflective.” These words are in themselves the foundation of a way of moving in life. A person with a doubting attitude (which does not honor the etymology of the word) reflects a very different style of movement, one where anyone becomes a judge that adjudicates what is acceptable and what is not based on the knowledge this person (or groups thereof) have accepted as acceptable. Yet, the only truth is that a person with a doubting attitude is one that has never felt truth with every cell of his/her body, hence a person who is a prisoner of his/her own bubble and who desires to make his/her bubble a home for all.
The more we develop our relationship with truth, the more awareness we gain to raise above the veil of illusion so once again we can reflect trust to the world around us.
There is so much more going on that meets the eye, that is what I get from reading this today. And that so much of our activity is based on a set of hurts, ideals and beliefs and layers of protection.
There is so much more going on that we do not see, or choose to be aware of.
I hadn’t thought like that before, but this offering makes me realise that detractors to truth are also having a relationship with truth in their own way and they are also going through their own development, just like I am.
I have never been involved in any Religion or Spiritual New age movement, nor have I been a part of a self-help program or group. The reason I was not a part of any of those things was due to me being very sceptical and in a lot of ways, I still am. To me, what was being spoken did not match how it moved, sounded or was in everyday living. I remember seeing people offering massage and pain relief whilst chain smoking cigarettes in between clients. I was sceptical as to what was being offered by a Practitioner and so I never had a massage from anyone but family.
The only reason I went to meet Serge Benhayon was because of the notable vibrancy and change in my mother and Aunty. Even with this living proof, I was convinced that it might still be some kind of scam. However, my family continued to shine inside and out and eventually I had to meet this “Serge character” for myself. One meeting was enough for me to feel his absolutely genuine nature and I knew that what was on offer was a chance to truly heal those long standing hurts we all carry; that this man had healed his hurts to the best of his ability, without perfection, and because of this he was able to provide a simple and clear space for others to do the same. The key message being offered was allowing the light that is already inside everyone to shine out, that hiding that light is actually a disservice to humanity. This was proven over and over, every day for 12 years after that meeting through consistency and light. So I am now living with an open heart but I am a forever discerner and if anything does not feel right I know that from the place I sit now I will be able to feel it in an instant.
A powerful and inspiring comment Sarah. Serge Benhayon is a true role-model for all to return to the truth of who we are from within.
“The key message being offered was allowing the light that is already inside everyone to shine out, that hiding that light is actually a disservice to humanity”.
Thank you Dianne for exposing in your examples all the different ways we can hide our hurts behind the cloak of ‘skepticism’. Uncomfortable to feel how often I have done that in the past but also really supportive in feeling less attacked by those around me who still use the weapon of skepticism to cover up their particular hurts.
Interesting to feel how the definition of scepticism has been bastardised to include attacking anyone who does not share your views, not just a complete lack of openness to any other views but a determination to exterminate anyone who dares to express anything that is contradictory.
Interesting, that even with a quick ‘google’ about the etymology of the word ‘skeptic’, that one can’t help but find references to being ‘inquiring’ and ‘reflective’… I appreciate your own definition at the outset of this blog Dianne.
Stark contrast it seems to the tone which seems to define the word in these times, where true reflection is so commonly abandoned completely.
We have it seems ‘damaged’ the word skeptic so that it has lost its original essence. ‘Inquiring’ and ‘reflective’ ‘sets the record straight’ again Victoria and reclaims the innate openness it is intended to convey and present.
We seem to lose, or have lost, the true meaning of many words; why are we choosing to bastardise the original essence of certain words?
It is very wise to look at what exactly may be the determining factors in anyone’s preferred way of viewing and thinking about the world… For if there is not a true seeing of things for how they are, there will indeed be hurts that cloud our vision and form the basis for which we will conveniently keep a door closed to the whole and absolute truth.
We’re all clouded whilst we harbour that which we don’t want to heal. And then, once healed, our capacity to truly see cannot but continue to deepen… Wise is the one who is willing to dismantle all that keeps us from the true and expansive view, where not only is all seen, but all can be held in one’s embrace…
Very much appreciating your definition of a true skeptic Dianne as someone who has a “genuine openness, that is, being open to all the possibilities and not excluding or ‘being blind’ to any because of a position of bias, fear, judgment, discomfort, comfort, vested interest, or any other agenda.” It is one that allows space for divinity, purpose, the big picture, God, life beyond death, and real connection between people.
You write that “using lack of perfection as a justification for skepticism about something is a neat trick, but very dishonest”. It is also very destructive if the person hurling this weapon reveals the utter devastation that they are feeling inside but are loathe to admit.