Searching For Truth, Beauty And Goodness
The San Miguel de Allende film festival is going full bore and I attended the screening last night of The Most Dangerous Man In America, about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. An Oscar nominated documentary, it is screening in theatres across America and I strongly urge everyone to see it, because it raises the issues of the moral high ground, what we hope for in our government, and what we get. And are the same conditions repeating themselves with regard to Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran? The documentary is riveting and Daniel was present with his wife, Patricia, for a question and answer period afterwards.
As a brief refresher, Ellsberg, was a brilliant young Harvard trained Phd. working at the highest levels in the Johnson Administration planning the logistics and justification of the war in Vietnam. He had been a Marine officer and had worked for the think tank, Rand Corporation, before and after his stint with the Pentagon.
Realizing that the American people had been lied to about the Viet Nam war and realizing the further impact on American lives he courageously took it upon himself to leak top secret information to the press. The entire episode helped set the stage for Nixon’s resigning and the war being brought to a close. One can get a more complete summary in Wikipedia as mentioned earlier and further current activities of Daniel Ellsberg at his website.
Years ago I had had the good fortune to listen to Terence Mckenna discussing Plato’s summation that truth, beauty and goodness were one in the same. Terrence admitted that for him it was extremely difficult to know what truth and goodness were, but that his journeys on psychedelics had taken him to realms where he experienced extreme beauty and knew it to be so. James Joyce in his book, Portrait of An Artist had defined the highest form of beauty as “static art,” that condition which places us in a state of awe. In that state we are transfixed, and our minds are stilled, in effect becoming receptors, available for inspiration and or communication at our optimum levels. I have experienced that.
Last night in the question and answer period, Daniel stated that when he decided to tell the truth about what he knew, that moment empowered him with a rush of energizing and transformative energy. I flashed on Terrence’s comment that he had found the many layers of truth confounding. With Daniel’s remark I had the epiphany that as elusive as truth may be, when we do embrace it, we are energized and empowered. I felt that I have experienced that state also, but had not thought about it in this way.
So beauty in its highest form seems to arrest us and truth, when we can recognize it and embrace it, empowers us. Both of these are states that seem worth pursuing and achieving.
I have not yet had the “aha” experience of “goodness as it relates to this discussion. That is I have my ideas of what goodness is, but I have not yet as Robert A. Heinlein would have said, when he coined the word, “grokked” experienced it this way. I am as Terence might have said were he alive, still searching.