Did Moses really part the Red Sea with a pass of his staff? Did Jesus say and do all the things attributed to him in the sacred texts? How can the gospels be accurate if they were recorded hundreds of years after Jesus’ crucifixion, scribed by people who never met him, and tampered with by interpreters for 20 centuries? How do you know what to believe?
Our answer lies not with historians or biblical scholars, who present more theories than facts. Instead it lies with the beloved stage character Auntie Mame, who proclaimed, "Life is a feast, and half of the poor suckers think they are starving to death!" Her assessment is strikingly similar to Jesus’ teaching, "The kingdom of heaven is like a banquet…." Though Jesus and Mame lived 2,000 years and worlds apart, they independently arrived at the same metaphor.
The cool thing about truth is that it keeps showing up. You can ignore it, deny it, stifle it, twist it, cover it, pervert it, misuse it, and flat out outlaw it, but it always keeps coming back. You can’t stop it. Real wisdom is eternal and unbreakable, and it emerges triumphant over human manipulation. Squash or distort the truth all you want, but it will have its way. As a bumper sticker proclaimed, "Nature bats last." So does anything real.
Deepak Chopra explains that if you dissolve a sea cucumber in a blender, the cells will find each other and re-form themselves into its original shape. Smart cells. Likewise, true wisdom keeps popping up like grass through a crack in concrete. If you don’t keep covering it, it will eventually displace massive heavy blocks. Gandhi noted, "In a gentle way you can shake the world."
Even if biblical translators or interpreters mangled or axed the original prophets’ wisdom, its essence will pour anew through the pens, brushes and flutes throughout the ages. Every human being embodies the capacity to know and reveal God – and many do – in every generation. We simply have to trust our inner promptings more than outer pressure, vision more than appearances, and love more than fear. Goethe exhorted, "As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live."
There is a way to recognize truth in the Bible or anywhere else: it resonates within your soul. Why is it that some passages in the Bible (or any teaching) put you to sleep, and others stir you passionately? A part of you recognizes truth when you hear it, and that part clamors, "Yo! Pay attention to this! It will make you happy and successful to know and live this!"
While I was a guest on a radio interview, the host asked listeners to phone in and report how they knew the truth when they heard it. The responses were fascinating: "A shiver runs up my spine…I feel a warm sensation in my solar plexus…I feel relaxed and at ease…It’s as if a bell has rung inside me…I feel as if I am coming home."
Likewise, you have your own personal way of knowing the truth when it is spoken. Trust it. It is the voice of God speaking to you. That voice does not boom out of the heavens with heavy, ominous bass tones. It is gentle and comforting, and it guides you through ease, without pressure.
That voice will also inform you when you have spoken the truth (or not). Sometimes when I am speaking in conversation or presenting a seminar, certain phrases resonate with me, as if my inner spirit is saying, "Pay attention to what you just said, because it’s true for you and you need to act on it." By contrast, sometimes I say something that feels empty, numb or dead. The message is that I do not really believe this or I have not yet mastered it. So you can learn from your own speech when it goes hot or cold.
If you are teaching a group or conversing with an individual, your audience is your truth-meter. If your listeners are present, focused and attentive, you are aligned with honesty or wisdom. If your audience is bored, distracted or fidgety, you have drifted and you are being advised to get back on track. During a recent seminar a participant spoke from her head rather than her heart, and rambled. The next time she took the microphone, five people in the audience got up to go to the rest room. Something inside them knew that they would not miss anything when she spoke, so they availed themselves the opportunity for a break. By contrast, when other seminar participants speak from their soul, everyone is rapt and no one would dare leave their seat. They crave realness, and eat it up like soul food. "When you speak from your heart, everyone listens, because God is talking."
So how do you know what in the Bible is true? You just know. No one has to prove it to you, and no one can. God spoke through Moses, Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus during their times, and God continues to speak through many people in our time – including you. Prophecy is not relegated to days of yore. It is equally available in days of yours.