We Are the Truth We Seek to Know

Below is Whisper #4 from my latest book, 48 WHISPERS, which is a collection of photographs and personal meditations created across a decade of travel to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. 

These words by philosopher Joseph Campbell reveal his understanding of the world’s mythologies and sacred stories as manifestations of the inward-turning journey we are all called to undertake. While the external world is consuming, the gateway to our truth resides within. Life’s great quest is to know thyself, thereby bringing forth your own unique voice. As Campbell writes:

“Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are within us. This is the great realization of the Upanishads of India in the ninth century BC. All the gods, all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us. When we simply turn outward, we see all of these little problems here and there. But, if we look inward, we see that we are the source of them all.”

The Lakota vision quest rite, or Hanbleceya, is but one of many indigenous traditions designed to guide self-inquiry and strengthen our understanding that we must have peace within before we can walk in peace through the world.

I had my own vision quest experience one day in the backcountry of Wind Cave National Park. From that experience four understandings were revealed:

• You have what you need—enjoy what you have.
• You have made your own trail. You are your own person. Be at peace.
• You don’t have to care for everyone else all the time; it’s okay to do things just for you.

• We all have our own journey to make; let those around you make theirs.• We all have our own journey to make; let those around you make theirs.

Inward lies the truth.