In this story that ties cunning games of chess competition with duplicitous espionage, the chess master Mansky spoke of how he decides who is truthful by recalling a classic brainteaser – ‘There’s the riddle about two brothers. One always lies; the other always tells the truth. You meet them at a fork in the road, and ask one of them how to get to town. [What do you ask?] The answer is, you ask one of them what road the other brother would suggest you take, and then you take the opposite.’ In case this is overly teasing your brain, below is the explanation…
On the one hand… If the liar is asked, the other one not asked will be the truthful one. As the truthful one will say the right direction, the liar will say the truthful one will say the wrong direction instead. Thus, the questioner should take the opposite of that wrong direction, which will be the right one. On the other hand… If the truthful one is asked, the other one not asked will be the liar. As the liar will say the wrong direction, the truthful one will say the liar will say the wrong direction. Thus, the questioner should take the opposite of that wrong direction, which will be the right one.
Thus, it does not matter who you ask, as long as you ask that question. However, the question asked will only work if one brother definitely lies, while the other brother definitely never lies. Do we have such basic constant truths as reference points in the real world? Sadly, beyond the enlightened, it is challenging to find one who never lies. As a consolation, it is also hard to find one who always lies. There is thus much duplicity in this world, what more, with duplicity that shifts. Sometimes, the usually truthful become untruthful; and the usually untruthful become truthful.
Though it might be difficult to call another’s bluff, it is frighteningly easy to bluff oneself with personal delusions. Minds fermenting with the Three Poisons of greed, hatred and delusion will easily concoct other ills like jealousy and such. Forming convoluted theories with unfounded speculation on who is duplicitous, oneself is ironically most so, who even spread treacherous lies in the name of ‘truth’. On the path to complete realisation of Truth with a capital T, we must respect all truths and be truthful. If not, how can we karmically deserve to realise Truth for the good of one and all?