The Honest Life – Solving the Problems of Awakening pt.2
Here we will discuss a few things that are crucial elements in awakening. Without these incorporated into your daily life awakening will be almost
impossible. Everybody, or at least the majority of us, knows of these words. However, from my observation very few of us actually have a good
understanding of what these words are pointing to, insofar as how we are to utilize the underlying concept of them in our daily lives. The
words/concepts are: "honesty"
. On the surface they mean very similar things, however, when we study them further we find
that they have subtle differences that are often confused. One is an understanding or an expression of understanding and the other is purely an
expression that may or may not be accompanied by an understanding. Both are essential for our lives if we seek to become awakened. This is “The
There once was a teacher who while living amongst his students noticed a great need for them to become more honest. A few of his thirty-three students
had refused to speak to each other over a trivial dispute surrounding a water bucket. One of them had become thirsty and sought out his water bucket
to go and fetch water with it from the river, but another student had already taken it earlier in the day to do the same. Upon return, he was met with
great hostility by this student. “You’ve taken my water bucket without asking me first! Why did you do this? Did you not think that I too might
get thirsty?” said the angry student. The other student jabbed back and said, “Do you not remember that you put a hole in my bucket last week when
I let you borrow it? Stop being so greedy and such a hypocrite, the least you can do is share it with me now!” They went back and forth with each
other all day about this until more and more of the students began to take sides. By night fall the whole group of students, with exception of only a
few, had chosen a side and refused to talk to the opposing side. During the nightly lesson and meditation their teacher noticed this conflict and
asked his students to take tomorrow off from their usual routine and spend it by conversing with each other in complete honesty about their problems.
The next day at sunrise all of the students gathered in the garden and began to converse with each other about their feelings and beliefs surrounding
this conflict. It started off fairly calm but by mid-day their anger rose and they had again ceased speaking to each other. In fact, no longer were
there just two sides to this conflict but six. They had become even more fragmented and confrontational towards each other than they were the previous
day. Nothing had gotten better and most of the students began to question their teacher’s advice. “If he was so wise then why did he ask us to do
something that only made the problems worse?” each group began to ask. Again at night fall the students gathered for the nightly lesson and
meditation and upon doing so their teacher once again noticed that they were not speaking to each other. In fact, he noticed some had even refused to
come to the nightly meditation out of protest. He told his most wise student, who had taken no side during this dispute, to go and gather the other
students who refused to show up. Half an hour later this student arrived with the missing students and they all sat down in front of their teacher.
“I see most of you have not taken last night’s advice to heart. Who here decided against speaking to each other with honesty today?” their
teacher asked, but no one said anything. “What, has your anger now grown towards your teacher, are you so full of hate that you cannot even speak to
he who loves you unconditionally?” After a few moments of silence one of the students finally stood up and boldly stated, “Your advice to speak
with honesty was not adequate enough; it made us even angrier and more separated then before.” The teacher gave thanks to this student for voicing
his opinion but then rebutted it with, “How do you know it was inadequate if you did not try it?” Another student quickly stood up and stated,
“But we did try it, we did exactly what you asked! You told us to be honest with each other today but it only made us angrier. Maybe you were
wrong!” The teacher again gave thanks to the student for voicing his opinion and replied, “Maybe you are right, maybe the teacher did not give the
correct advice to his students. Or maybe they just do not understand what honesty means. In fact, this must be true, for, honesty always leads to
peace, respect, compassion, understanding and unity, never anger and separation. Tomorrow the students will again take the day off from their usual
routine and spend it with the teacher learning what honesty is and what it is not. This surely will solve this unproductive and damaging conflict.”
The next day the teacher spent all day with the students clarifying what honesty is and what it is not, and by nightfall everyone overcame their anger
and conflict for each other. The honest life was now underway in this Sangha and great progress began to take place in all of their awakenings.
So why did honesty not work for these students at first? Why did their teacher ask them to continue doing something that he saw was leading them into
conflict? Did he mean something completely different than what they thought he meant when he told them to speak with honesty, and if so what?
First we must understand what they thought honesty was. Like for many people, to them honesty was merely speaking how they felt, their opinions and
beliefs on a matter. They might of said, “I am just being honest with you, I don’t like the things you do, you were wrong for doing that…” or
“I am just being honest with you, you’re a real a**hole most of the time…” or “I am just being honest with you, you better change your ways
or I am going to hurt you in some way, or leave you, or fire you…” and when the other person does not take kind to these comments they reply with,
“Well you want me to be honest with you, don’t you? Or should I just lie to you?”, as if they were doing something truly productive and virtuous
by belittling and threatening the other person. This of course could not be further from the truth of what honesty is. If honesty is merely speaking
upon how you feel, voicing your opinions and beliefs at any particular moment, than surely this would not be a productive thing if you are currently
feeling angry, resentful, frustrated, distasteful, neglected, jealous, envious… and so on, because that is going to influence your intentions and
outward expression. Thus in this way honesty would in fact be more damaging of a thing than anything helpful, it would merely be another word for an
egotistical “opinion” or “belief”. But since true honesty is always a productive and virtuous thing that is void of the ego, it undoubtedly
cannot be this. So then what is honesty?
Honesty is an inward understanding of one’s own short comings, a self-awareness that takes full responsibility of any unproductive actions or
illogical thinking. Honesty may or may not be expressed outwardly, but it always begins with an inner understanding of one’s own
emotional/physical/mental instability and/or illogical thinking/action. What was described in the previous paragraph is merely a form of blaming, not
honesty. Honesty does not shift responsibility for suffering or conflict to another person or object or external circumstance. It is taking full
responsibility for yourself, your thinking and your actions, in any giving circumstance. This is what leads us to gain deeper insights and
understandings into the causations of our sufferings and conflicts, and allows us to find the path to transcend these terrible things. This is why
honesty is so powerful and important for those who seek to become awakened and liberated.
The next time you want to be honest with someone, you must first be honest with yourself. If you merely want to blame someone for what has happened to
you or put someone else down to make yourself feel better, than you are essentially admitting to yourself that you have no control over your own
thoughts, actions and thus life. If you find yourself doing these terribly negative things, such as blaming others or putting others down, than be
honest with yourself that you have lost all control over your thoughts, actions and thus life. This understanding, this insight, will lead you to look
deeper within yourself for the reasons you feel the ways you do and you will begin to again gain more control over your thoughts, actions and thus
life. If you are fine with having no control over your own life, just so you can continue to blame and put down others, than awakening will be most
definitely impossible for you.
To look outwardly and blame another person, to speak with your opinions and beliefs that shift responsibility from you to something or someone else
for your problems, is like placing a veil of ignorance over your eyes. You will see nothing but anger, frustration, resentment, unworthiness,
jealousy… and ultimately confusion. To look within and take full responsibility for your own actions and thoughts, with no consideration of what
others have done to you, is like lifting that veil of ignorance off of your head. You will see things clearly and compassionately, and you will gain
the ability to concentrate powerfully on what it is that will liberate you from your conflicts and sufferings, and ultimately bring you peace.
Sincerity is another crucial and virtuous element in awakening. It is an outward expression of passion that derives from a sense of selflessness.
However, without honesty, sincerity is merely an outward expression of selflessness with no deep understanding of the problems at hand, and so
overcoming conflicts with others will be a much slower process to achieve. Still, without honesty, sincerity is a powerful ‘tool’ in itself, for,
it is void of any and all selfish tendencies that can corrupt ones intentions. Although, it must be said that without honesty it may be very difficult
to know if you are truly being sincere or not, for, the ego is a master of disguise and tricking you into believing untruths, and this is why honesty
is a necessity to have before we seek to be sincere. Making honesty the foundational root of your sincerity, and incorporating it into your outward
intentions along with sincerity, one can rest assure that he/she is truly being sincere, and thus with this combination of honesty and sincerity
working together, sincerity will become an extremely powerful ‘tool’ that will heal all outward conflicts and problems with others by using very
So let us recap these terms/concepts and essential ‘tools’ for awakening so we are sure we understand them fully.
is an inward understanding of one’s own emotional/cognitive thought processes and how these have influenced our own outward
actions, insofar as, it is an understanding of how external influences have influenced our own emotions, thoughts and actions. Further, it is an
understanding of our level of inner conflict between the ego and the Self. These understandings can be realized in three general ways:
1. By becoming acutely aware of and identifying our internal emotional/cognitive thought tendencies through a form of Vipassana meditation. This will
allow us to identify any illogical or unproductive tendencies within us at its very root.
2. By becoming acutely aware of our own outward actions and then tracing them back to our inner emotional/cognitive thought processes to see why we
have done what we have done and what emotions or thoughts were present when we did these things. This will again lead us to a form of Vipassana
meditation, or maybe some other form of deep contemplation, where we will be able to identify any illogical or unproductive tendencies within us at
its very root.
3. By becoming acutely aware of the external influences in our lives that have influenced our own outward actions, and by doing this we can trace
these outward actions back to our inner emotional/cognitive thought processes to see why we have done what we have done and what emotions or thoughts
were present when we did these things. This will also lead us to either a form of Vipassana meditation, or maybe some other form of deep
contemplation, where we will be able to identify any illogical or unproductive tendencies within us at its very root.
By continuously doing one, or all three, of these methods we will gain full insight into our tendencies of illogical or unproductive thinking, insofar
as, full insight into any illogical or unproductive reactions to traumatic or disturbing external stimuli’s. Thus we will gain more control and
responsibility over our own thoughts, emotions, actions and life, which will allow us to overcome internal and external conflicts, insofar as see
things as they truly are in a much more clear and contemplative manner. From this true honesty can arise.
is a passionate outward expression of selflessness. True sincerity without honesty is an outward act of selflessness without
the understanding of one’s own inner emotional/cognitive tendencies, insofar as without the understanding of one’s own conflict between the ego
and the Self, thus it can be very difficult to tell if you are being truly sincere or not, or whether it is just an illusion that was created by your
ego. Sincerity with honesty is an outward act of selflessness with a full understanding of, and thus full responsibility for, one’s own inner
emotional/cognitive tendencies, insofar as a full understanding of one’s own level of conflict between the ego and Self, thus in this way one can be
sure their sincerity is truly sincere.
Through the constant combinational use of true honesty and sincerity together in our daily life one is almost guaranteed to make awakening a much
easier thing. Not only will this take care of the problem that many of us have with the
, but if done with enough consistency, dedication and intensity it
should also dissolve our ego entirely. With enough practice of these two things, every thought we have and action we do will be done with complete
honesty and sincerity. When this is achieved then the ego should dissolve completely and no longer will there be a ‘thinker’ or a ‘doer’, only
a fully aware and awakened being. This is “The Honest Life”
Next in this series of “Solving the Problems of Awakening” we will again return to studying some of the possible hindrances that one may run into
when seeking to become awakened. It will be called, “The Great Avoidance”, and will discuss why some of us seek to become awakened in the first
place. Are we avoiding something?
Again, if you feel inspired to add to this then please do so however you would like because by no means do “I” hold the totality of truth.
Until next time… Peace my friends.
L.I.E. (read between the lines)
edit on 6-6-2011 by LifeIsEnergy because: (no reason given)