11/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

"It Is What It Is" Is the Only Truth, the Rest is Interpretation

By trying to avoid mistakes and trying to do the "right" thing, we are using a set of personal commandments of what should and should not be. The problem is that by accepting one part of reality and rejecting the other part of reality, we are creating two realities out of one: one being the reality that you approve of, and the other being the reality that you reject.

This dualistic, dichotomous perspective results in two truths. This, here, is perfect. And that, over there, is imperfect. But this and that are part of one and the same reality! Katz (2007) writes that a view of the world as one, not two, is what "describes our relationship to truth" since "the nature of truth is not two" (i.e. non-dual).

And, indeed, when you and I look at one and the same object of reality, say a hat, and you think it is great looking and I think it's heinous, the only thing that both of us can agree on is that "it is what it is" -- and this "it is what it is" is the only truth that allows both of us to be right. By proclaiming that "it is what it is" we both rise above our subjective aesthetics and acknowledge the objective suchness of the object that we were previously trying to judge. We are acknowledging its true nature -- that it is the kind of hat that you see as perfect and I see as imperfect. Thus, this hat is both great looking and heinous, depending on whose mind is appraising it, and, at the same time, this hat is neither good looking nor heinous (when no one is looking) but is a "thing in itself," such as it is.

All truths are relative, i.e. related to one and the same truth, the truth of suchness, the truth that "it" (whatever the "it" may be) is what it is. But to say that something "is what it is" is to say nothing. Functionally, the phrase "it is what it is" is a form of interpretive silence, a form of informational silence. In saying nothing, we are saying nothing false -- and that is, perhaps, the closest we come to expressing that ultimate (one, non-dual) truth that we can all agree upon!

Copyright, 2009

Pavel Somov, Ph.D. is the author of Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time (New Harbinger, 2008) and of Present Perfect: From Mindless Pursuit of What Should Be to Mindful Acceptance of What Is (in press, New Harbinger, 2010).

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