Searching for the truth
by Helen Bryant (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider what it means to be searching for something in life.
Preparation and materials
You will need the book Dogger by Shirley Hughes.
Have available the song ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ by U2 and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.
I wonder if your home is anything like mine in the morning. Frantic searching because I can’t find a particular pair of shoes or I have forgotten to pack my bag the night before, scrabbling about for my pencil case or my mark book or trying to recall where I put my car keys. Even if you are not like this, I am sure you know someone who is.
Searching is something we all do, often for something small, but essential, like keys. Have a listen to this story about a search.
Read Dogger by Shirley Hughes.
A child’s story, yes, but one I’m sure we can all relate to. I remember having it read to me and you may remember it, too. At some point, each of us will have lost something that is important to us. We need to search for the lost thing, whether it is a book or something within ourselves.
Are you thinking about GCSE option choices, or what A levels to do, or which university to apply for or which career path to take? Maybe you don’t know what you are searching for. Maybe you are searching for answers to really serious questions, like ‘What is the purpose to my life?’ We are all looking for the answers to some questions. Some may be questions to which the answers may never be known.
In their search for answers to life, Buddhists have the goal of achieving enlightenment or nirvana. They use the analogy of a lotus flower. The dark earth and sludge at the bottom of a pond is where the lotus flower begins its life – just as we are surrounded by ignorance and controlled by our selfish desires and cravings. As the lotus flower grows up towards the light, so we grow in understanding and learning about ourselves and our lives. Eventually, the flower stem emerges and blooms into a beautiful flower. This signifies enlightenment – the bursting forth of ourselves into the light of true understanding. The search is over.
This process is a long one. Some people never find what they are looking for. Some people don’t actually want to know the true, real answer to their questions. In the story of the Buddha, it took him many long years to find true enlightenment and understanding about life. He never stopped looking and searching, just like Dave in the Dogger story, who did everything he could to find Dogger.
Time for reflection
If you are searching for something, and perhaps you don’t know what it is that you are looking for, one idea is to stop searching for a little while. Christians believe that many answers can be found in their holy book - the Bible. They believe that the Bible is a guide for those who read it, showing them how to find out answers about God and how to live fulfilled and happy lives.
And if you are like me, you will probably find what you are looking for in the most obvious place!
Come beside us on the journey planned for us.
Let us find the ways that lead to the correct answers.
Let us see the signposts and the guidance that you give us,
And allow us to come to the truth and find what we are looking for.
‘Lord of all hopefulness’ (Come and Praise, 52)
‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ by U2