The key, and the challenge, is to maintain our commitment to truth and radical honesty in every moment & still play the game well enough to win-win. “White lies” I’ve been told “are okay”. That of course is bs. A lie is a lie is a lie. If you didn’t feel like taking the call then you say that or nothing at all; not “sorry I missed your call”. Of course there’s the game of life and we all want to play; why else r we here? The day to day battle of wits and wisdom with peers colleagues coworkers friends family even enemies if we have them. Playing feels good; it makes us feel alive. Winning feels great. Win-winning feels even better. But real winning cannot exist in the shadow of a lie, not even a small one. (Can we really measure the size of a lie? Or is it just a smokescreen? More lying. The worst kind, lying to oneself. Self-deception.) True winning feels good all the way through; post-celebration and release. There is no nagging feeling left lingering; no longing for more. No inexplicable need to explain or rationalize nor any transparent desire for yet more attention. No asserting or affirming necessary. It’s a clean feeling. The exact opposite of what one feels when winning transpires in the face of untruth. That nagging feeling that something still isn’t quite right. No matter how big our win just was. What IS that we ask ourselves in those momentary silences between thought and expression…
It isn’t easy to tell the truth all the time. Or else we’d all be doing it. Most of us are caught up in so many untruths pre or even post-enlightenment that when we first encounter the idea of being 100% honest 100% of the time it can take us a staggering amount of time to begin to even recognize how many lies and untruths emanate from our existence and surround us. Denial is a natural element of our instinctive survival mechanism –(of the ego aspect rather than from pure conscious-awareness it would seem). Without it we would be hard pressed to live even one more hour here with all we’ve experienced already. Awareness of all that is is a powerful tool but it can also be traumatizing. Denial assists in our ability to integrate experiences we judge to be not preferable. No one wants to feel less than. It is not preferable to be aware of every one of our mistakes misdeeds or missteps along the windy path of life. Hence denial.
But radical honesty cannot take shape and fully form as a transparently functional aspect of human consciousness in anyone where instinctive denial is still operating. If you ever wish to discover who among you harbors secrets and untruths listen to how often or how much they assert their rightness or righteousness, their good intentions or their honesty. Though not a hard set law of the natural world, asserting does seen to be an indicator of hidden guilt shame or insecurities revolving around whatever is being asserted the most. There is power in that knowing. Not only for self preservation regarding potentially harmful behavior of others, but also in helping each of us as individuals start down the path of radical self honesty. When we find ourselves asserting or affirming our own good intentions or self righteousness more than usual it is a safe bet to assume we’ve got some skeletons in our own closets to examine.
The hardest part for many is the initial landing. When we spend most of our lives pre-enlightenment flying high, living life the best we can, making the most out of every moment however we know how, coming down can be tricky. Grounding is easier spoken about than navigating safely. Just becoming aware of our own set of the untruths we have consciously or unconsciously chosen to live our lives through is a shadowy affair. Cloudy skies await even the most noble pilots. But there is safety in several realizations. One, no one cares about YOU more than you do. In fact no one is concerned even a tenth about you than you are. Believe it or not most people are not spending countless hours thinking about you and how honest or dishonest you are. The judgments and criticisms we level at others we just assume are being leveled right back at us; perhaps occasionally they are, but not usually. And not to the degree which we believe nor with the frequency we imagine. We are for better or worse our biggest fan and our most ardent critic. So let go of any concern about what others may think if we decide to start coming clean.
There is also the fact that freeing ourselves from the lies and untruths that bind us is much easier than we at first believe it to be. There is almost no lie, no matter how big we judge it to be or how addicted we might be to it, that hurts that much when revealed and released. Our fear of it, of admitting it to ourselves, of what other people will think about us, or what we will think of ourselves is always more painful than recognizing and releasing the lie itself. Perhaps the most exhilarating phenomenon of all is just how liberating and enlightening releasing untruths from our attention feels. There is something inexplicably joyful and freeing about getting truly real and honest. It’s like nothing else. Right up there with dark chocolate or making love.
We’ve never lived in an age as obsessed with self improvement, self development or enlightenment as we have in the last fifty years. (A salient argument could easily be made that the reason is because this is the first time in human history where socio-economic circumstances have allowed us to extend enough free attention away from pure and simple survival to afford us the benefit of focusing on self development or enlightenment). So here we are, smack dab in the center of one of the most self centered eras in human history, where money food shelter water and all of life’s other basic necessities and creature comforts are so readily available to the most common human that anyone if they so desire can focus inward to attempt to achieve so called “enlightenment”. Enlightenment being an ambiguous and subjective term at best is still in the eye of the beholder of course. But for the sake of argument we can assume that most people HERE know well enough what is being referred to. I dare say that anyone who’s given the idea any amount of thought is keenly aware of how implicitly integral and important honesty is in this quest. Without a commitment to radical honesty, both to self and others, enlightenment will always seem a goal rather than a reality. No matter how many hours spent meditating or chanting (one of the slowest least effective paths to enlightenment we have learned) without 100% honesty enlightenment will always feel as though it is in the distant future rather than in the right here right now. It will remain a mission rather than a state of being.
Some might say enlightenment is nothing more than waking up to a life fully aware of the lies of our past and a commitment to never repeating them. Short bouts of shame guilt and remorse follow, naturally. (I would say it is impossible to imagine one who is fully awake and somehow manages to avoid this natural flow.) But they soon give way to true repentance and joy. Tears and laughter. Shock and awe. Relief. Lightness of being. Clarity. Many moments of “aaahhhhh….” I’d also admit to personally experiencing enlightenment as much more than that though. It’s a rare and infinitely joyful state to find ourselves in to be sure, but it’s not the end all be all moment of pure awareness spoken about by the most free and gifted among us. It’s step one or two, getting real is. Releasing all of our lies and untruth demons. They bind our attention and make us small; blocking most of our creative energy to store up in order to perpetuate the lies we hang onto and live by. Observe the limited selfish actions and lack of clarity of anyone who still clings to even a few untruths in their day to day life. Compare them to a child. Notice the unfettered innocence and freedom with which children act and speak.
Becoming radically honest is a powerful step towards enlightenment. But still just a step. Frankly I have always imagined real enlightenment to be more akin to magic than anything else. But my guess is that the more we experience what we once described as enlightenment the more grandiose we create our vision of it to be. The whole “glass ceiling” paradigm. I imagine a world or state of being that is divine, supernatural, paranormal. And though I’ve experienced moments like this several times on my own path toward higher and higher states of beingness –events that could not be described as anything but supernatural or paranormal, I still hold out hope for things much grander. Physical flying at will, astral projection at will, telekinesis at will, the appearance of angels and higher spirits when called upon. Access to sacred knowledge… The list is endless.
Of course the first step to any of these experiences is still to be truly free inside. To be clear and clean. To feel it inside and out. And that comes again from being radically honest. This leads many to believe that they need to abandon living in ‘the real world’ entirely. It is from this misconception that we get the ideas of shamans, gurus and priests. Tibet’s Dalai Lama or the Vatican’s Pope. Meditating monks on mountain tops. One only needs to study history or better yet meet one of these people to recognize how subjective a term enlightenment is, and how far off we might be in our assumption that abandoning real world living is mandatory for enlightened living. (We’ve had the rare opportunity to know the Dalai Lama intimately for more than forty years and for most of us he’s never spoken one sentence that we’ve not already thought ourselves hundreds of times. And I don’t believe anyone’s ever seen him fly or teleport. Either his view of enlightenment is far more limited than ours or he’s seriously holding out on us. The so called Pope is so far removed from even his Holiness the Dalai Lama that it would seem a waste to even go there with him here.)
These are both men who have sacrificed their entire lives to achieve so called enlightenment. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of priests, monks and self described gurus of various religious orders. Yet very few have ever offered up anything more than the previous or next among us. No, sacrificing real world living is clearly not a necessity for enlightenment. It may help us avoid the pitfalls of human temptations but it hasn’t helped anyone see or touch The Divine any more than the rest of us. One might add that there is also the question of why would we bother achieving enlightenment in the real world if we aren’t in and of the real world to make use of it.
Playing on the big field in the big game of day to day life with everyone else is fraught with opportunities for thrilling victory and heart breaking loss. It’s the biggest game in town. Or at least the universe as we know it. It’s why we showed up in the first place. It’s pure joy. Exaltation. It’s the nectar. The occasional win makes it even greater. Consistent winning makes it intoxicating. Our challenge is to not believe the hype that surrounds us daily that in order to win we need to compromise our commitment to radical honesty and truthfulness. That in and of itself is a lie. Others may do it. Our presidents and prime ministers and religious leaders make whole careers out of doing it. Many celebrities have earned the right to trademark it they’re so good at it. But it doesn’t make it right. And it doesn’t mean they’re win-winning. Not in the big picture. All the material success in the world cannot dress up or disguise a dishonest face bogged down by a life filled with secrets and lies. Material winning is only a piece of the puzzle, a small part of this bigger picture. The real goal, the noble goal, is to win in all arenas of the glorious game. And that means achieving the state of pure unadulterated enlightenment right along with anything and everything material one might ever wish to possess. I’m not saying it is easy. But I do believe it is possible. And I am willing to keep on trying as vigilantly as I can until that moment when enlightenment is the only thing I have that I can take with me to the next big game.