(June 13, 2009, HARJ GILL DBA , President of Vancouver Fraserview Rotary)

(This speech was read by HARJ GILL DBA as part of his Presidential Inauguration as he was appointed by Incoming District Governor Gordon Dalglish as President, Treasurer and Secretary for the Rotary Club of Vancouver Fraserview, District 5040)


Dear Fellow Rotarians, I welcome our Incoming District Governor Gordon Dalglish, his beautiful wife Sylvia,  Asst. Governor Hans Doge, Asst. Governor Don Kavanaugh, and our guests, I thank you for joining our club tonight. A new year is beginning and it is wonderful to have friends with us to remember the past and to usher in the new Rotary year.  I want to thank our now Past President Gus Rattan for the assistance he has provided to us throughout the year.  Please give a warm round of applause to P.P.  Gus Rattan.   I want to thank our past directors for being there when they were needed most.  In particular I want to thank P.P.  (past president} Jasdev Aujla for his support this year during the important moments.


This coming year will be a great year.  We will grow the membership of the club, and diversify the membership.   More importantly we will do some great things for our community. 


Gentleman, it is my goal and my promise that we will increase female membership significantly to strengthen the club and we will set monthly goals so that we can achieve our targets.   With only one female member hopefully I can double and triple membership.  Actually the wish is to increase to 40-50 percent female membership as a percentage of total members.



Increasing Membership and providing a fun, productive club atmosphere will also be my goal and I intend to do this by encouraging everyone to become involved in activities at the club, district and International level.  As well we should focus on healthy living and exercise and I hope to incorporate these activities into the club routine. 


But at all times we must not forget why we joined Rotary.  I joined Rotary because I believe in the principles of Rotary.  On of them is the Rotary principle of TRUTH == we always ask – IS IT THE TRUTH?  With this in mind I would like to discuss what Truth means to me and I hope that you will come to appreciate why it is important to me. 


The word truth has a variety of meanings, from honesty, good faith, and sincerity, agreement with fact.  The term has no single definition about which a majority of professional philosophers and scholars agree, and various theories of truth continue to be debated.  I would like to briefly mention a few theories.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a german philosopher in the 1800’s said, the progression of philosophical truth is a resolution of past oppositions into increasingly more accurate approximations to absolute truth. This historical progression will finally conclude itself when the Absolute Spirit understands its own infinite self at the very end of history. Absolute Spirit will then be the complete expression of an infinite God.


In simple terms I understand this to say that philosophical truth is obtained looking for more accurate variations explaining the circumstances and discarding those that are not so clear until you are left with something near the absolute truth.


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche , another german philosopher in the late 1800’s believed the search for truth or 'the will to truth' was a consequence of the will to power of philosophers. He thought that truth should be used as long as it promoted life and the will to power, and he thought untruth (meaning a lie) was better than truth if it had this life enhancement as a consequence.   He said "The falseness of a judgment is to us not necessarily an objection to a judgment... The question is to what extent it is life-advancing, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps even species-breeding...".   In simple terms I understand this to say --  if the untruth meaning the lie moves things forward and gets things done – if it is life-advancing --   it is then the TRUTH.


Alfred North Whitehead a British mathematician who became an American philosopher, said: "There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that play the devil".

The logical progression or connection of this line of thought is to conclude that truth can lie, since half-truths are deceptive and may lead to a false conclusion.


Erich Fromm finds that trying to discuss truth as "absolute truth" is sterile and that emphasis ought to be placed on "optimal truth". He considers truth as stemming from the survival imperative of grasping one's environment physically and intellectually, whereby young children instinctively seek truth so as to orient themselves in "a strange and powerful world". The accuracy of their perceived approximation of the truth will therefore have direct consequences on their ability to deal with their environment. Simply -- HE IS SAYING IF IT MAKES US SURVIVE IT IS THE TRUTH. SURVIVAL IS THE KEY TO TRUTH.



The reason I wanted to showcase these definitions of truth was too show that our greatest philosophers, thinkers did not agree on what TRUTH should be. There is the ultimate truth, or the Supreme truth but in our lives we deal with only approximations of truth and we should not fixate on these approximations.  We should be careful to say whether something is the TRUTH or not.  It is most likely not the TRUTH but only an approximation.  To make harsh judgements, to render punishment based on approximate truths or half truths can lead to the end result a lie.  Be careful, as lives may be lost and destruction may be left everywhere.



In Sikhism greater than Truth is Truthful living. One must lead a life of Truth. He must speak the Truth, act the Truth and think the Truth.  In Sikhism, It is the duty of man to study the laws of the nature and to realize His greatness and glory. 


But what is TRUTH,  It appears that the greatest philosophers and the greatest religions are missing something about Truth.  What is really the TRUTH?  It appears that the greatest philosophers and the greatest religions in the world do share something with regards to TRUTH but are not as clear as they could be.  It appears to me that Buddhism of the religions known to me and the major philosophies known to me --  is clearer than the others, it best described TRUTH in simplistic terms and also explains why we struggle with the TRUTH.


In Buddhism, the goal is to not worry about approximation of the TRUTH and to not focus on these half truths.  Buddhism asks us to PERCEIVE REALITY and thereby see the supreme TRUTH – which is defined by Buddhism as the perceived Reality.  What is it that we see and how do we see it – this is what is important.  What is it that we see and how do we see it.


In Buddhist writings, the truth is likened to  “ the finger pointing to the moon”  the Moon represents Supreme Truth.  The finger is not the Moon.  At best, when understood correctly, the finger is an aid in seeing the moon, but only if we are willing to turn away from the finger and to look instead where it’s pointing. 


In conclusion my definition of Truth is not Buddhism but a variation of the Buddhist TRUTH.  My TRUTH is as follows  -- I would like to ask that we not focus on the approximations of truth, the half truths but instead to step inside the eyes of the other (the observer) and look at the MOON in his/her eyes and see the Moon as she/he sees it.  If you look at the moon any other way you will only see the Moon from your angle and if you look at the finger which is clear to see as it so close to you – you will only be looking at a half truth for the finger may not be pointing directly at the Moon.   I say do not look at the moon and do not look at the finger but instead step inside the eyes and mind of the observer and see through his/her eyes and then look at the moon (the Absolute TRUTH).  Anything else is only a variation of the truth seen from a different angle.  And therefore the variation is the untruth – the lie.  When we look through the eyes of the observer we may see the ABSOLUTE TRUTH or most likely just the TRUTH, but a clearer TRUTH than the one seen from an angle.


Buddism believes that the goal of each person is to reach Nirvana, to end the cycle of suffering.  It proposes two methods.  The first the method of will power or “self-power”  without reliance on an  external force or being.  The other method called Pure Land relies on taking direction from other powers such as writings or books. Nearly all Chinese Buddhists accept that the chances of attaining sufficient enlightenment by one's own efforts are very slim, so that Pure Land practice is essential as an "insurance policy" even if one practices something else.  I disagree with Buddhism and believe the will power can be achieved by ones own efforts if we perceive reality.


In conclusion, It is my believe that will power, the I in us, can end the cycle of suffering.  Our will power, or self power can be harnised and the TRUTH can be seen.  The suffering that we endure during the years, from bicycles that keep breaking, to cars with flat tires, to trees that fall from the nowhere, to staples in our donuts, to false crime charges, to separation from our loved ones, to failed marriages, to financial disasters, to failed businesses and failed relationships, to betrayals, to lost friendships, to lawyers and friends that have their own agendas, to courts that cannot provide justice, to fiends with self interest as their motives, and to minor recrurring health problems that never seem to heal.  --- all can be ended or controlled through will power.  That is my belief and this allows me to see the TRUTH.  The TRUTH AMONGST ALL THE LIES.


AND why is it is important for us to keep looking for the TRUTH, IT is because it is not the TRUTH that affects the relationship but rather what is important is what impact knowing the TRUTH impacts the TRUST we have in each other.   (PAUSE)  Can we still TRUST each other when we know the TRUTH.  HOW will the untruths told by each affect the trust going forward once the TRUTH is known.  This is why knowing the TRUTH is so important.  By knowing the TRUTH we can decide how much to trust our friends, our neighbours, our lawyers, our accountants, our business partners, our partners, and of course our dear fellow Rotarians.







With that I would like to start the New Rotary Year.  I would like to renew the club.  And in this regard I am asking that the new potential directors and potential new Rotarians to wait a few weeks while we finalize the planning of the new club before you are appointed.  Procedures will be set in place and the club will be renewed.  I ask we wait for a few weeks.  Lets plan a large party in July for our new Rotarians and Directors to be installed.


* Excerpts of the speech had been copied from various books an online internet websites, namely the information about the philosophers and information about the religions.


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