Eben Pagan’s Blog

The Price of Truth

Posted in Truth by ebenpagan on December 27, 2008

I’m sitting with two of my closest friends right now, and we’ve just had a very enlightening conversation.

During the conversation, my friend Nathan Otto said:

“If you know the price of truth, you’ve already paid it. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

It turns out that this short, profound phrase was the result of a 14-hour conversation between Nathan and his AMAZING partner Amber Lupton… about the source of meaning.

You might want to write that one down on a Post-It Note, and stick it on your computer monitor… then read it a few times a day for the next month or so. I’m going to be thinking about it a lot.

Please leave me a comment below to let me know what you think…

38 Responses

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  1. twitfreak said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    thanks for the quote!

  2. Marguerite Crespillo said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    So simple and so profound… I am sure everyone has been in the situation where you know the answer and have to decide if you are willing to pay the price or not…

  3. Saiful Rizal said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Hey Eben,

    “If you know the price of truth, you’ve already paid it. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

    That’s DEEP.

    I’m just wondering, Eben.. How does this apply to Marketing?


    Saiful Rizal
    The World’s First Teen
    Personal Development Video Blogger

  4. richidea said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    why I have to ask the price if I already paid for it. its just mind boggling…

  5. Lezlie said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    I really like that quote.

  6. michele said, on December 27, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Good question Saiful. This one can come with life experiences and age. I know not what I wanted to hear as a teenager either.

    Eben, The decision over the price is often the thing that immobilizes people. They will not make the decision because they are afraid they will not be able TO pay the price, when actually we always pay a higher price by not deciding and then moving on. It is called interest on the price, (chuckle)

    Thanks for sharing.

    Michele Price

  7. StartBreakingFree.com said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:20 am

    The first part makes sense…most lessons in life I haven’t REALLY learned until I’ve done it the hard way and screwed up. The second part doesn’t resonate with me though…if you have to ask, it just means you don’t know yet. You may still be willing to pay your dues.


  8. Busiman said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Truth costs nothing, but gives you everything

  9. Pete Moring said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Having never dealt in lies I guess I must have already paid the price.

    Seems like instalments are residual, but to Who?

    That’s the question I put to You Eben.

    Pete Moring.

  10. crystalsquest said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Having not always chosen to pay it, I’d also like to add that it’s usually cheaper than the price of untruth, and often a better bargain than you can imagine…

  11. pete said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:56 am

    Hmmm. A little ambiguous. I’m trying to think of an example in my personal experience that this would apply to.

    I guess I don’t consider truth as something that requires a price to be had. I feel truth is a deeply spiritual principle. Not my version of the truth or someone else’s… just truth in general. Truth is true whether we understand it to be or not. That is, the world is round even if we (humans) all believe it to be flat.

    I find that truth is something that reveals itself to me the more I get myself out of the way. That is, the more I get my own limited human thinking out of the way and just let truth be.

    I also see this in my kids. Kids are such an awesome example of pure truth. They haven’t learned to filter their thought yet. And so, I see these expressions of truth without any “payment” required.

    Okay, so I just topped your ambiguous thought with a set of my own… I guess it can be a tough subject to wrap our arms around, so to speak ;0)

  12. Yavor said, on December 28, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Trying to comprehend it but not getting it yet. The most profound things are super simple, but call for lots of repetition to comprehend them.

    For example, everybody praises books like Think and Grow Rich. But the stuff that everybody praises, to really get it on a deep, true level, you have read it over and over and over.

  13. Jamie Hosmer said, on December 28, 2008 at 3:25 am

    Truth is Truth, and cannot be refuted. To seek the Truth is noble; one will only gain knowledge and experience from seeking the truth. But the price, well, hmm… I’ll get back to you on that. Meanwhile, enjoy the journey towards the Truth!

  14. Andy Wilkinson said, on December 28, 2008 at 4:18 am

    “If you know the price of truth, you’ve already paid it. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

    …if we’re talking about Absolute Truth here (purposefully using CAPS here), then the only way to ‘know’ Truth would be to actually ‘BE’ it. Otherwise we simply ‘know about’ it, which is more intellectual than experiential. So I agree with the first part of this statement.

    As for the second statement, I’m more inclined to say the act of ‘Asking’ demonstrates more of a desire to discover Truth, rather than an ability or inability to ‘afford’ it. And that inquisitiveness to pursue truth should be commended and encouraged to grow, rather than written off.

    => My most eye-opening learnings about ‘Truth’ have come from David Hawkin’s works on the subject – he’s up to about 8 books so far and counting… Check out “Power Vs Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior” as a starting point. Then there’s “Truth Vs Falsehood”, “The Eye of the I”, “I: Reality And Subjectivity…” –> Highly recommend them all.

  15. wondering said, on December 28, 2008 at 6:21 am

    Are you high?

  16. Edward Mortimer said, on December 28, 2008 at 8:40 am

    “What is required is not a lot words, but effectual ones.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

    or, 14 hours condensed into 20 words.

  17. Jon said, on December 28, 2008 at 11:09 am


    Michio Kaku (string theory) wrote a book called Visions. Worth checking out.

    He refers to a moving away from reductionism toward synergy among computer, biomolecular, and quantum…

    But more so in order for the proper evolution of what Dyson referred to as Type I, Type II, and eventually Type III civilization.

    The problem we’re facing now is Type I civilization which is where people like Amber Lupton and Otto and yourself (Eben) are required.

    Right now we’re at Type 0 civilization requiring coal and oil to energize machines. Type I civilization has mastered all forms of terrestrial energy (i.e. we can modify weather, mine oceans, extract energy from the center of the planet).

    Now what do you think a harnessing of potential resources of the entire planet requires?

    Ya. That’s right. Harnessing and managing resources on this type of gigantic scale requires a ridiculous degree of COOPERATION AMONG THE PLANETS INDIVIDUALS WITH ELABORATE PLANETARY COMMUNICATION.

    You think the internet has evolved by accident?

    eeeeep. Maybe not. Maybe the planet knows something we don’t. Maybe there are forces going on beyond our control.

    A truly planetary civilization is one that has put to rest most of the religious, sectarian, and nationalistic struggles that typify origin.

    Nevermind Type II and Type III civilizations. Read the book Visions.

    In any case, there has started to build a planetary culture with first the printing press – now the internet…

    From the book:
    “In the background always lurks the possibility of nuclear war, the outbreak of a deadly pandemic, or a collapse of the environment. Barring such a collapse, however, I think it is safe to say that the progress of science has potential to create forces which will bind the human race into a Type I civilization.”

    This is where Amber and the like come in.

    Planetary civilization is the next step by definition of resource requirement of the planet. Our existence depends on it – and we are moving that way – so it looks like things are just on schedule for the next 100 years barring some nuclear holocaust.

  18. Rogers George said, on December 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Sounds like a zen koan to me…

    Rogers, who always tells the truth anyway. (A lot of times the truth is “I don’t know.”)

  19. Dana said, on December 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    If you know the price of truth then you have already paid it. Your truth is dependant upon your perspective. It is only your truth. Having already paid it means you understand the sacrifice it took to understand it.

    If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Means to me, it is not worth the effort to try to understand someone elses version of your truth.

    As my 95 year old grandmother would say: Your truth will always be revealed to you.

    Just my thoughts 🙂

  20. Gregg Zban said, on December 29, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    No truer words have ever been spoken. All the best in 2009!

  21. Mugendi said, on December 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Few realizations have hit me in the face like a punch

    I often see Ignorance in people, something I hate to see in myself, and am constantly trying to keep open minded. I’ve been a victim of ignorant actions (the price I’ve paid) and am thus am set on my path unwavering

    If you try to ask for truth – or convince people to realize they don’t know everything, you can’t afford it – it’s impossible to do so – you can only ask God /your spiritual superior for wisdom – and truth will surround you

    Eben, your alterego David D’s ‘On being a man’ has influenced me
    I consider you modern day philosophers. Keep pushing those boundaries of thought

    MZ – Worcester.

  22. Mike said, on December 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Unless you are an enlightened Zen monk, the truth as we know it is called “experience”. Your experience is your truth, regardless of what others may call it, or want you to call it.

    Wayne Dyer’s quote “sometimes you just have to be oblivious to the good opinion of others” resonates with me all the time. Tends to keep tribal thinking at bay.

    When your truth comes from your experience, it’s intuitive, it’s personal, and your own. I always like to hear another’s perspective on “my truth”, as long as it’s not an ego based perspective. And oh yeah, there’s lots of that floating around … lol ..

    Great quote guys … thanks for sharing.


  23. Zasta said, on December 29, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Well said Eben

    I agree with Mike here; truth is what we make it. Our experiences, beliefs, perceptions
    are what creates our truth.

    As a yoga teacher, I like to say to my students: “I am teaching you my truth, not the truth!”

  24. Derick said, on December 29, 2008 at 5:50 pm


    I like the quote and feel that it could apply to most anything because the only way to know the true cost of anything is to have paid for it yourself… and if you haven’t paid it yet, you’re in the process.

    That’s my first ‘gut instinct’ but I’m gonna let this one simmer in my brain a while.

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. Joel Gunz said, on December 29, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    “Reality is something none of us can stand at any time.” — Alfred Hitchcock.

  26. Shawn said, on December 29, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Reminds me of something I’ve read: Truth is a person. And it’s costly to know him. Luke 14:25-34

  27. Steven said, on December 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    I have learnt that truth is free. Let me say that again, truth is free.

    On January 1, 2003 I vowed to do two things, 1) Tell the truth, and 2) not be judgmental.

    Once you decide to tell the truth, you automatically adjust your life in many small ways, then making you act in ways which make it easy to tell the truth. This becomes a virtuous cycle because you see the value of not having to lie, so you keep living the truth – your own truth.

    Initially, adjusting your life might seem like a cost (of truth) but the cost quickly ceases to be a burden (price) after which truth is free.

    Not being judgmental is infinitely more difficult.

  28. Wolf Halton said, on December 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    There are many layers of approximation to truth, and at every stage that approximation is complete and incontrovertible. Truth must be at least a 5-dimensional holographic construct.

  29. Dirk said, on December 30, 2008 at 8:29 am

    I will have to reflect on this quote a few more times.

    ‘If you know the price of truth you have already paid it’ is clear to me. The second part less.

    What’s in between? You haven’t paid it yet, but you can afford it?

  30. Mugendi said, on December 30, 2008 at 8:30 am

    I got it. Truth is priceless

  31. Mugendi said, on December 30, 2008 at 8:34 am

    .. it is worth eternal bliss
    everything other than truth has a price

  32. Carla~ said, on December 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    What I think is WOW! That is so true~ Very profound quote~

  33. Helen Silver-Goldstein said, on December 30, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    This is indeed a penetrating view on the price of Truth. It seems to be far easier to chat about this concept than to actually take action in it. When the time comes and you are called to stand up and be one with the Truth, would you be able to, knowing the price you must pay in order to honour it?
    I had a close friend in South Africa, during the apartheid years while we were at university. She had witnessed a government official bribing a police officer. To her lawyer, her subjective experience seemed to be evidence sufficient to proceed against the official in a court of law. However, standing before the High Court and being asked to produce evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, not having any photographs or video of the denounced act, the Judge refused to find the official guilty of misconduct. He was dismissed without much ado, but my friend was fined heavily for misleading the Court. Her name was smeared in the media, but she remains content with her decision to this day, knowing that she stood in the truth, despite the price she had to pay to honour it.

    Many years later, in Canada, another friend found herself in a similar situation: she had seen and heard a truth from her child regarding a close family member. It was a horrid truth. The evidence, according to my friend, was indisputable, but when it came time to stand up in front of a judge and present evidence beyond a reasonable doubt – because she did not have photographs or video evidence of the criminal acts described and drawn by the child, the court could not find reason to protect the child, and ordered that the little one spend time with the family member. The mother refused to hand over her child, knowing the Truth, and was arrested and imprisoned for 13 days for disobeying a court order.
    After years of working really hard to rebuild her reputation and regain her confidence and sense of humour, my friend says that she would do many things differently with the knowledge and experience that she acquired. However, she does not regret, for one moment, that day in court when she told the Judge that she could not consent to her child being placed in an environment which had been disclosed to be harmful, because in so doing, she would have betrayed at once, the Truth and her daughter’s trust. Today she can look into her daughter’s eyes and say, in truth, that she honoured her duty to protect her child.
    So as hard as it was to incur the wrath of the court and to spend time in prison, my friend is aware that knowing the Truth and being prepared to defend it are two very different and distant standpoints – and that when one has taken the courage to stand in the Truth, suffering the consequences, then one truly knows the Truth as a sense of being, rather than knowing.
    [Are you still with me Eben Darling, or did I lose you in the Abstract?? 🙂 ]

  34. ciperlone said, on January 5, 2009 at 5:52 am

    I have to say, Nathan Otto, sometimes I ask for the truth and I get it for free. But that doesn’t mean that I disagree with you. Cheers

  35. rafefurst said, on January 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Hey Eben, I’ve been thinking for a while about how to put a price on truth:


    The project is a bit stagnant right now and needs some fresh blood. Any of your readers want to help revitalize this concept?

  36. Garrett said, on January 15, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    As one of my friends likes to say “For those that understand, no explanation is necessary, for those that do not, no explanation is possible.”

  37. Darren Moore said, on February 25, 2009 at 12:25 am

    This is in hope that “Eben” actually does read his blog now and again, or if one of his staff read it that they take an initiative to get him to reply!

    Quote “If you know the price of truth then you have already paid it,
    If you need to ask, then you can not afford it”

    Well Eben, I have an amazing and extremely adverse comment to make on this subject, and I sincerely hope that you grasp what it is that I am saying.

    I probably can not call myself an “Internet Marketer” nor an “Affiliate Marketer” as the only reason I am on your “list” is so that i can read, take in and utilise any positive points to help my “Brick and Mortar” business, and you are probably the only one that does give me any inspiration at all.

    Anyway, I am digressing away from the reason behind my commenting on your blog.

    I started my business only last September, and if I had of had the knowledge then what I know now, I would have gone in a completely different direction. So, the truth i know now, and i am paying for this…. (so the statement above is true.)

    But, if by knowing what I know now back last September, would I have actually taken that different direction…. yes I certainly would. (Again, profoundness stands tall)

    So due to my knowledge and hard work, researching, phone calls and emails…. I have now found something that may just change the way Internet Marketing extends into the future, something that could in fact bring far more people “to the plate!”

    The only reason that I am not doing something about it is because of the blatantly obvious reason…. “I simply can not afford it.” (Now this goes against the statement)


    Because I know the truth, and that is this…. “The knowledge that I have acquired could now change Internet Marketing from here on in, and because it is an affordability situation then it may just take a while longer to get it to a marketable position where it should be.”

    Please remember that one day someone is going to develop a piece of software that will bring marketers and affiliates swarming faster than bees to honey.

    And this person is more than probably going to be YOU!

    I fully understand that this internet marketing & affiliate game is very much like an arcade game, you need practise to succeed, and to practise you need coins to feed that game so you can play.

    What is more than dissapointing is that i seem to have run out of coins, just as i was starting. But then, if I had taken more notice of “The Trainer” then I may not have ran out at all…..

    So Mr Trainer,

    I bid you goodnight and wish you all the best for your future….. not that you need it!


  38. James Montague said, on August 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Very philosophical… but as you can see by the other comments… I need a little more context, examples, or something, so I can better analyze this one. I’m a philosopher, so if you have more to give on what the meaning of that statement on the source of meaning is, I could do more to add some quality feedback… but for now, it’s been seeded 😉

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