‘“What is truth?” Pilate asked.’ (John 18:38)
This question has aroused intense debate for millennia and does not present a simple or obvious answer. For example, modernism embraces the idea of discoverable, absolute truth, whereas postmodernism sees truth as being more subjective in which the notion of ‘absolute truth’ is largely discarded in favour of the more relativistic notion of ‘your truth’ and ‘my truth’ and so on.
For Plato, God is transcendent – the highest and most perfect being – who uses eternal forms, or archetypes, to fashion the universe. From this platonic concept we may consider that God is the centre of all being and creation and is therefore the locus of all truth, beauty, and goodness. Imperfection, or aberration, sets in the further one moves away from this central ideal, that is, moving away from the spiritual centre towards the material periphery. This encapsulates the Eastern idea of Māyā, or illusion, in which consciousness does not directly apprehend reality as it is but instead overlays it with beliefs, misperceptions, desires, and aversions, which create the appearance of the phenomenal world around us.
From the above statements we may propose that truth is reality that has been stripped away of anything that obscures its fundamental and transcendent nature. And this is a key purpose in life, that being to discover, or uncover, the ultimate transcendent truths that are otherwise obscured by the immanent appearance of the universe that contains us. But how should one go about doing this? This is where myths, especially those of the religious kind, can play a vital role in our consciousness development and the uncovering of fundamental truths about life and the universe itself.
Myths should never be interpreted literally, for all that does is to reduce the transcendent truths contained therein into rational husks that are devoid of spiritual nourishment. Myths are not created by the rational (egoic) part of the mind but are instead produced by the unconscious and transcendent aspect known as the mythopoeic. Consequently, myths speak the language of the unconscious in terms of numinous images, symbols, narratives and so on, and is therefore not suitable to literal or rational interpretation for it was never meant for such.
In closing, I would like to suggest that when reading religious myths of any kind it is best to focus on uncovering the transcendent truths they are trying to relay to us instead of getting bogged down with the literal interpretations and historical facts or fallacies contained within the narrative. For it is the nature of transcendent truths to remain unaffected by time or culture in that they are always relevant and living in the deeper psyche of mankind.