Three Filters and The Law of Subtraction


More Ways To Choose What Is Essential

In the previous post and on my April Moneylove Club audio, I talk about the need to be more selective and discriminating about what we let in from the huge amounts of information bombarding us. And I just was reminded of another set of criteria that can help us decide what is essential. What remind me was a comment made by Rev. Sonya Milton of Unity SF

Sonya told the story of Socrates and his Three Filters, which goes like this:

In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.
One day an acquaintance met the great philosopher and said, “Do you know what I just heard about your friend?”
Hold on a minute,” Socrates replied. “Before telling me anything, I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Three Filter Test.”
Three filter?”
That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my friend, it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it the three filter test.
The first filter is TRUTH. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”
No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it and…”
All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of GOODNESS. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?”
No, on the contrary…”
So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, but you’re not certain it’s true. You may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter left: the filter of USEFULNESS. Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?”
No, not really.”
Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?”

So applying this to our lives in this era of information asphyxiation would seem to make even more sense than doing it in ancient Greece. If an email shows up, or a blog, or a person in your business or personal life, you might ask yourself, “I what I could get from this addition to my life True? Is it Good? Can it be Useful to me? Anything or anyone clearly not fulfilling any of these filters can be subtracted from your mind, eliminated from your life to your everlasting benefit.

And wouldn’t it be great if these three filters could be applied to political discourse in this country?  Imagine saying to Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh, “Is what you want to tell me about Barack Obama true? Is it something good about our President? Is if information that will be useful to me in living a better and happier life?”  And you probably could have asked the same questions about some liberal pundits talking about George W. Bush during his term in office.

And not only making room in your mind for good ideas to develop and gestate, and cleaning up the political atmosphere, but this simple set of filters could also have a profound impact on our relationships. What if you and your significant other agreed that you would on speak the truth, only say good things about the other person, and only give them information or thoughts that were useful? Would that change your life or not?

My Law of Subtraction is about taking away or keeping out that information that does not serve you well. It seems to me that avoiding or terminating the thoughts and ideas and information that are untrue, are not good thoughts and ideas and information, and are worthless and tiresome rather than useful would be a good way to start putting the Law to work.


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