On Being Truthful by Adyashanti

“I have found over the years of working with people, even people who have had very deep and profound awakenings, that most people have a fear of being truthful, of really being honest—not only with others, but with themselves as well. Of course, the core of this fear is that most people know intuitively that if they were actually totally truthful and totally sincere and honest, they would no longer be able to control anybody.

We can not control somebody with whom we have been truthful. We can only control people if we tell half-truths, if we shave down what is true. When we tell the total truth, our inside is suddenly on the outside. There’s nothing hidden anymore. For most human beings, being that exposed brings up incredible fear. Most people walk around thinking, “My god, if anybody could look inside of me, if anybody could see what is happening in there, what my fears are, what my doubts are, what my truths are, what I really perceive, they would be horrified.”

Most people are protecting themselves. They are holding a lot of things in. They are not living honest, truthful, and sincere lives, because if they were to do so, they would have no control. Of course, they don’t have control anyway, but they would have no illusion of control, either.

Most people don’t get out of childhood without having many experiences of being wounded for telling the truth. Someone said, “You can’t say that,” or “You shouldn’t say that,” or “That wasn’t appropriate.” As a result, most of us have very deep underlying conditioning that being just who we are is not okay. We have been conditioned to believe that there are times when it is okay to be truthful and honest, and there are times when it is not okay to be truthful and honest. Most human beings actually have an imprinting—not only in their minds, but in their bodies and their emotions—that if they are honest, if they are real, something bad is going to happen. Somebody is not going to like it. They won’t be able to control their environment if they tell the truth.

But telling the truth is an aspect of awakening. It may not seem like it, because it’s very practical and very human. It’s not transcendent. It’s not about pure consciousness, it’s about how pure consciousness manifests as a human being in an undivided way. We must be able to manifest what we realize, and we must also come to grips with and start to notice the very forces within us that keep us from manifesting truthfulness in every situation.

Almost every time I’ve given a talk like this in public, someone will come up to me later and say, “You know that talk you gave on truthfulness and honesty and all that?” And I’ll go, “Yeah, I remember the talk.” And they’ll say, “Well, somebody came up in the parking lot afterward and decided that she needed to tell me all the rotten things she thought about me, in the name of honesty.

And I just kind of shake my head. I hesitate to even give talks on this topic, because it’s so easy to misunderstand.

Truth is a very high standard. Truth is not a plaything. To tell what is true within ourselves is not to tell what we think; it is not to tell our opinion. It is not to dump the garbage can of our mind onto somebody else. All of that is illusion, distortion, projection. Truth is not unloading our opinions onto someone. That is not truth. Truth is not telling our beliefs about things. That is not truth. Those are ways that we actually hide from truth.

Truth is much more intimate than that. When we tell the truth, it has the sense of a confession. I don’t mean a confession of something bad or wrong, but I mean the sense where we come completely out of hiding. Truth is a simple thing. To speak the truth is to speak from a sense of total and absolute unprotectedness.

To tell truth with any consistency, we not only have to meet every place in ourselves that is afraid of telling truth, we also have to see the belief structure we have that tells us, “I can’t do that.” Those belief structures are by their very nature based in unreality. To know this is not enough; you have to actually see it, to really perceive exactly what you believe. What are the exact belief structures that cause you to go into duality, that cause you to go into conflict and hiding? Only then can you tell truth in the way I’m discussing here.

Freedom is the realization that everything and everybody gets to be exactly as they are. Unless we’ve come to that point, unless we’ve seen that this is how reality sees things, then we’re actually withholding freedom from the world. We’re seeing it as a possession, and we’re only concerned with ourselves. How good I can feel? How free I can feel? True freedom is a gift to everything and everybody.

The important thing is allowing the whole world to wake up. Part of allowing the whole world to wake up is recognizing that the whole world is free—everybody is free to be as they are. Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them or to see things differently—until you have given the whole world its freedom—you’ll never have your freedom.

This is an important part of awakening, and it is an easy part to miss. Again, if we were fully awake, it would be impossible to miss this, but most people do not awaken all at once. The idea of freedom is very important, however. Everybody gets to be as they are. Only when everyone is allowed to be as they are—when you have given them that freedom, the freedom they already possess—do you find within yourself the capacity to be honest and real and true.

We cannot be true as long as we are expecting or wanting others to agree with us. That will cause us to contract—maybe they won’t like what I say; maybe they won’t agree; maybe they won’t like me. When we are protecting ourselves, we are also withholding freedom from everybody else. When we realize that we are the one and only Spirit that manifests as everything and everyone, in the very nature of that realization is total freedom for all.

There is a certain fearlessness in this realization. People sometimes come to me and say, “Well, Adya, there’s still some inner place”—and, I find, it’s often a very early childhood place—“that’s afraid to just be what I know to be true.” And, of course, I’ll say, “You have to look at it, to see how you, yourself, formed certain belief structures based on what happened in the past. You have to look into it and see if those belief structures are really true.” But also, we need to recognize that we have no way of knowing or predicting how the world will receive us. Part of being awake is being willing to be crucified. If we think that to be awake means the whole world will agree with us, then we are in a total delusion.

Inside human consciousness there is a deep taboo that says it is not okay to realize the truth of being. I’m not talking about preaching it, necessarily; I’m talking about just being what you perceive. This taboo says, “That’s not okay. You will be crucified for that; you will be killed for it.” Of course, in our human history, people have been killed for it. We have a long history in many societies of getting rid of or killing truly enlightened beings, because true enlightenment does not conform to the dream state. In fact, many times the dream state feels offended and threatened by true enlightenment, because a truly enlightened being cannot be controlled. Even the threat of death cannot control an enlightened being.

Thus, as a human being, we can’t have these childish ideas that enlightenment means “everybody loves me.” Maybe everybody will love you, but more likely some will and some won’t. But when you have given the whole world its freedom, then you have gone a long way toward finding your own freedom. They are tied inextricably, one to the other.

The most important thing is not that you try to convince anybody of the truth that you see. What is really important is that you are truthful with yourself. If you can be truthful with yourself, then you can be truthful with anybody. There is no real usefulness in becoming overly focused on being truthful with everybody else. Although that’s necessary, the place to start is with yourself—can you be totally sincere with yourself? Can you go to that place that is beyond blame, beyond judgment, beyond should and shouldn’t? Can you go to that place that is so sincere you won’t shy away from any part of yourself that is still in conflict; you won’t use the perception of truth to hide from something that feels less than liberating?

It is really a question of sincerity. As I said, this is not a self-improvement program. Once you discover the level of sincerity and honesty I am describing, you find that sincerity and honesty are manifestations of the absolute nature of being. To be this sincere with yourself may not be easy, initially. You may see things about yourself you don’t want to see. You may see the parts of yourself that stand in seemingly stark contrast to everything you have realized. Nonetheless, this is where awakening moves; awakening moves toward and into that which is not awake. Sincerity is what allows this movement to happen, and it does happen if you are real with yourself.

Coming completely out of hiding, being willing to see every point of fixation, every way you go into division, enables this part of the journey to continue. As this happens, you feel your heart opening, your mind opening; you feel yourself opening on levels that you never dreamed possible. These levels are not just transcendent of humanness, but also right within your humanness, because there is no separation between your human being and your divine being.

Sincerity is the key. You have to be willing; you have to want to see everything. When you want to see everything, you will see everything.

A lot of students who come to see me have the unconscious idea that enlightenment means one should be able to feel complete happiness, total bliss, and total freedom in any situation. This is one of the unconscious beliefs that many people have about awakening, and it’s another misperception.

If you believe the misperception that enlightenment is only about happiness, bliss, and freedom, you will be motivated to transcend or escape those areas of your life that feel less than fully functional. But sooner or later, as we become more awake, we find that there is more and more pressure to encounter and deal with those areas of our lives that we have been avoiding, where we are less than fully conscious.

I have found that a lot of people become quite afraid when they start to realize where this whole movement of awakening is taking them, that it is taking them into an area where they will be called to be unusually honest and real and come completely out of hiding. This is contrary to the idea of awakening being simply a transcendence of life, the finding of a safe haven in some inner experience where we don’t have to deal with life as it is. Awakening is, in fact, quite the opposite: it’s a state of being in which we find the capacity to deal with our lives as they actually are. But as I said, many people are afraid of this part of the process, because it demands that we come out of hiding on every level.”

~ Adyashanti, The End of Your World

Finding The Way Out of Confusion

I haven’t yet come out the other side, but these are some things that I found important when making decisions/ figuring things out.

1. Find your real motivations for doing something:

“As you view what is at stake in an issue, you will seldom find an answer by asking whether the action you contemplate is right or wrong. Since none of you would ever consider committing an antisocial or sinful act, the decisions you are faced with could be right either way in principle. Yet, for each individual there is always only one right way and many, many wrong ways possible. So you have to consider your honest motives behind your apparent good motives; that will determine the right or wrong action for you, not the ethical value of the action itself. As long as you have not found all the motives behind a desire, you will not be able to know the right action for you. The right procedure is not to ask God simply to let you know whether to do such and such, thus avoiding the work of self-knowledge on your part. There may be isolated instances where this can be the right thing to do, but not generally, not when there seems to be a repetitive pattern and a conflict involved. The right procedure is to decide wholeheartedly that you wish to find all the motives behind the conscious motive, and for that you should pray for God’s help.” – Eva Pierrakos

“People who do not recognize their hidden motives cannot conduct their lives freely. They are enslaved to their lower selves, to their unrecognized desires, which push and pull them backwards and forward, left and right.” – Eva Pierrakos

2. Consider whether you are ready to pay the price:

“You often desire the impossible, like a child: you find yourself desiring something that cannot be had, or for which you are not prepared to pay the price.” – Eva Pierrakos

“In your unwillingness to pay the necessary price for a desired goal, you leave the issue in the unconscious, thinking childishly to go around it.” – Eva Pierrakos

3. Don’t expect the Divine to solve your problems without your active participation:

“If your present situation feels unsatisfactory in any way, or if you are not clear about a decision you are called upon to make, do not expect God to decide for you or to alter an unpleasant situation without your active participation in the process. You have to realize that there must be something in you that contributed to the undesirable circumstance to begin with and be willing to find what it is and change it. Do not forget that the wrong is not necessarily a sinful action or thought, but an unrecognized emotion that surges in a wrong channel or violates a spiritual law. God recognizes your goodwill, and if you combine prayer with the work of self-examination and tearing down your masks, His answer will become ever more clear, so that there will be no possible room for doubt in you. But as long as your resistance against this way of working persists, no matter what the pretexts and excuses are, the sluggishness and the immaturity of your lower self has the better of you. You will have wrong reactions and distorted instincts, which you will then want to interpret to fit the resistance of your lower self.” – Eva Pierrakos

“Those who will not make a decision are often the same who most sincerely strive to follow their soul’s yearning. Although they truly want to do what is right and just, they shy away from doing something because it may not please God. They are afraid of doing wrong so they do not do anything. They do not understand that by not making a decision they also make a decision. The world, and what you call time, never stands still. Everything is in the stream of life, and whatever you do, including not doing anything, must have a consequence. When you shy away from making a decision, it means you have not yet found a key to your soul. You live, possibly without being aware of it, in fear. You do not take command of your ship, believing and hoping—again unconsciously—that God or fate will make the decision for you. Once in a while this may even happen, but, in general, God’s world is not permitted to interfere, since one of the things you have to learn is to take responsibility for your decisions. You have to learn to pierce the dark cloud which obscures the truth and creates confusion. You must do so by your own effort, by your personal spiritual endeavor, by your increasing self-awareness.” – Eva Pierrakos

“The answer and the key to God’s will are within you.” – Eva Pierrakos

This makes me realize that words of wisdom need to unlocked. It’s like you receive a treasure chest, but you have to find the key within yourself to open it. The tricky part is that we may interpret certain words to mean something that appeals to the lower self, so experience/reflection is needed.

4. A shift in perspective can bring about change on its own:

“So you overlook the simple fact that first your ideas have to change before the vexing conditions have a chance to change too. Thus you find yourself at a certain crucial point on this path in a vicious circle: you wait for a change in your conditions, while the conditions wait for you to change your ideas.” – Eva Pierrakos

“But whatever the problem is, be aware that this problem is in direct connection with an inner wrong attitude of yours and pray for recognition, for guidance, for enlightenment in this respect. If you search in this direction at all and if you are really open to find your particular answer and to see the connection of your outer problem with the inner one, guidance can be given; or rather, the recognition will come to you, for often the guidance is there but you refuse to see it! You refuse to see the signs, the many pointed signs, that are constantly given you.” – Eva Pierrakos

5. Abundance needs to be cultivated from within:

“The open energy system which creates richness flowing into you both from within and without must come from your own richness that can afford to lose at the moment. Then you can afford to tolerate the temporary pain of finding what really obstructs the fulfillment of the unfulfilled need, and ultimately remove it by changing an inner attitude. This is the way to create richness from poverty.

A sequence of steps must be undertaken in this process. Step number one: recognize the conflict we have just discussed where you struggle between resorting to hopelessness or to pushing, holding, and applying pressure from above. Step number two: see that this conflict exists because you operate from the premise of an imaginary poverty, convinced that you could not have what you need if you gave up the pushing, holding, pressuring struggle. You believe that you are condemned never to experience the fulfillment you long for, without which your personality cannot thrive. Step number three: commit yourself totally to working out the real reasons for your unfulfillment in the usual way you learn on this path. This must be done in a spirit of honesty, perseverance, patience, and humility. Humility means not blaming the universe for your poverty in a particular area of your life, but instead searching for your distortions that have created this poverty.” – Eva Pierrakos

“You must first create the inner attitude in which you can accept the not having with good grace and still feel, perhaps even because of it, your inner wealth.” – Eva Pierrakos

6. See the connection between freedom and self-responsibilty:

“The infant in you desires everything the way it wants it, how it wants it, and when it wants it. But it goes further than that. This desire includes wanting complete freedom without responsibility. You may not be aware that you desire just this. But I am sure that by investigating some of your reactions and asking yourself what they truly mean, when you come to the root, you will undoubtedly find that this childish part of your being desires just that. You want to have a benign authority above you who steers your life in all ways as you desire. You wish complete freedom in every way; you want to make independent decisions and choices. If these prove good, it is to your credit. However, you do not wish to be responsible for anything bad that happens. Then you refuse to see the connection between such a happening and your own actions and attitudes. You are so successful in covering up these connections that, after a time, it takes a great deal of effort indeed to bring the connection out into the open. This is so because you wish to make this authority responsible for the negative things only.” – Eva Pierrakos

“It is not only the pain of unfulfillment that you cringe away from, however. You also do not want to take upon yourself mature self-responsibility. This may not apply to all your outer material life, but may affect the emotional plane. If you do not wish to love, and live in fear of being hurt, if you do not wish to take the risk of living upon yourself, you wish to remain the child who waits helplessly for life to fulfill its needs without the necessity of self-involvement. The price you pay for such evasion is very high. Many of you do not yet realize how high that price is. This running away from self-responsibility and from the apparent risk of living and feeling is caused by an original sense of inadequacy, and continuing to run away increases that sense of inadequacy. Only as you change this pattern will you find your sense of adequacy and self-confidence. The psychic law that says that running away from the original pain of unfulfillment increases the unfulfillment, and therefore the pain, operates here, too.” – Eva Pierrakos

7. Identify dual either/or thinking (rebellion vs submission) / Accept current limitations:

“As you accept the narrow structure and recognize it for what it is—the product of your limited thinking—so will your scope of freedom widen. But it does not widen by rebelling against the necessary outer boundaries, and against what appear to be restrictions. Freedom comes from an intelligent recognition of the structure and from the choice to accept it. This choice is made not out of fear and weakness, dependency and submission, nor is it a rebellion of the inner tyrant, which disregards reason and wisdom. It is made with the will to see the truth and meaning and lovingly accept, on those grounds, the narrow structure of the present, even if this seems at first to restrict personal desires. This is the act of love and freedom. The first two alternatives of fearful acceptance and blind rebellion are obviously unloving and unfree. They are not deliberate choices, but blind, automatic reactions, and they bear the seed of hate, distrust, suspicion, selfish demands, maligning of truth.” – Eva Pierrakos

8. Save yourself:

“When I cast my mind back to my upbringing and my life overall, I recognize the times when I was hostage to factors which set me desperately searching for rescue. Rescue implied to me that an outside force, person or persons, would appear to help me out of my unhappy circumstances. But no one would appear. No rescue was at hand. I could have sat on the “rock” of my solitude until I was a very old man, awaiting some nameless, faceless rescue “party”, like someone lost in the wilderness. But when I realized that the wilderness was the landscape of my own making – and of my own mind – I began to feel a strong impetus to take action to get out of the uncomfortable place in which I had somehow landed. That rescue, I eventually concluded, could only come from within myself.” – J. Paul Nadeau, Hostage to Myself

9. Use your willpower wisely:

“You can use your willpower in two very distinct ways. One creates a pressure and tension that will rob you of your peace; it leads you away from the state of detachment so necessary for attaining spiritual and emotional maturity. The other flows freely, strongly, and vitally and will never hamper your serenity; it works deep inside and yet quite consciously; it wills strongly and yet patiently; it leaves you free and detached, yet never passive and resigned. One will-stream comes out of your higher self, the other out of your lower self. If you will something that is against divine law and divine will, it will never give you peace. However, it is also possible for you to will something that is utterly right for you, but to do so in the wrong way, thereby mingling in wrong currents or wrong motives.” – Eva Pierrakos

10. Choose wholeheartedly:

“unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.”

– Charles Bukowski

“Wherever conflicts exist, in one way or another, you have not made your decisions properly. Do not remain on the surface level; you will have to dig deeper into your emotions in order to find the answer. Within your emotions, sooner or later you must find—provided you search honestly—that you have somehow not made a whole decision; you had somehow hoped to gain the advantage without accepting the disadvantage. And often you even hope—again without thinking it through clearly—to at the same time gain the advantage of both alternatives and to be spared the disadvantage of either. This amounts to cheating life, and the result must inevitably be that life will teach you a lesson and you will reap the disadvantages of both or all sides which you wished to avoid.” – Eva Pierrakos

11. It’s ok to admit that you don’t yet have the answer:

“If, after taking on the problem, you come to the conclusion that you are not yet capable of making a decision because you are not yet able to perceive which direction to take, you are in a totally different state. Then you can ask God for inspiration and knowledge and thus be ready to receive it and act accordingly. The needed recognition will come to you when you have prepared yourself through your own endeavors. It is one thing to avoid a decision, cover up everything that relates to it, and turn away from the problem altogether. It is quite another to strive for truth and knowingly and willingly decide not to make a decision until, after more personal effort, you are ready to take the right course. And when the decision is truly the right one, no shadow of a doubt will be left in you. The result will be ever-increasing inner peace and harmony in your soul. Only in this way can you become the captain of your ship.” – Eva Pierrakos

12. There is a difference between intuition and resonance:

Ideas can resonate with the lower self or with the higher self. They can resonate with hidden motivations and fears that haven’t been made conscious and they can feel ‘right’ too, although from my experience they have a more temporary nature.

13. Being aware of your fears helps:

“The great enemy is fear, and the best way to meet and conquer this enemy is first to ascertain, admit, and articulate it. This approach will diminish fear to a considerable degree and open the way to further measures for ousting it. Of course, the desire to do so must, as always, be clearly expressed in one’s thinking and intentions. However, if you struggle against fear out of fear of fear, this will be difficult. Therefore, the calm admission and the momentary acceptance of it will do more toward its elimination than fighting against it would.” – Eva Pierrakos

14. Ideas of right and wrong (should/must/have to) can delay/hinder progress:

One time during meditation I had the following thought:

“I want to… because… ! I don’t wanna hear any I have tos! ”

And I believe that the motivation for doing something is where it’s at.

“As long as your “right” conduct is motivated by stringent self-moralizing, based on “good or bad,” your goodness or righteousness is not genuine. It does not come from natural insight and inner growth but from fear:  the fear about your imperfection. Therefore, such “goodness” is ineffectual, unconvincing to yourself as well as to others. It is a compulsion, not a choice. And you cannot be in reality when you are compulsive, for reality cannot be evaluated in the extreme terms of good or bad. When these terms cease to apply to anything but very crass issues, the borderlines become subtle and hazy. The issue is no longer capable of being settled by quick judgment about what is good or bad. Then the truth can be found only deep within yourself, instead of in the rigid laws and rules you borrow because you are too insecure to delve into your own soul. But since you don’t dare to find the truth there, you adhere to ready-made rules, and the moment you do you moralize.” – Eva Pierrakos

“This moral structure actually takes the place of the self: you trust in rules rather than in yourself. This is a very shaky trust, for such rules may often be inapplicable to certain real situations. You may often have to grope when you find yourself not knowing what is right. However, if you cannot accept yourself as a human being, fallible and often confused, then this unavoidable confusion has the power to disrupt you completely. You may attribute the disruption to the situation itself, but in reality, it stems from your attitude about yourself. You will always want to find the final solution at once. And this urge is dictated by the false belief that you prove yourself unworthy if you admit that you do not know the answer, or simply have negative, undeveloped reactions.

So the first thing to learn on this path now is the ability to accept not only your fallibility but that you often do not know the answer. If you learn this and at the same time still like yourself, then slowly but surely your emotions will mature and your reactions will change, and a healthy trust in yourself, in your natural, spontaneous reactions, will follow. You will become more lenient with yourself and will no longer need perfection as the only basis for respect.” – Eva Pierrakos

15. Difficulties can be linked with personal defects:

“Although you really want to claim your goal, you still feel it is impossible. There is some wall that does not let you get through. This wall must never, under any circumstances, be disregarded or glossed over. You must never use pressure from your will to overcome the “no” of this wall. Such forcing will remove you further from your real self within and hence from the reality of the life where all good is available. Instead, you have to interpret the meaning of the wall. Translate it into clear words. Whether you doubt that you can have your goal or feel guilty about getting it, or have a sense of not deserving it, or are afraid of life’s demands when you do have it, these still do not add up to the final answer. The reservation within yourself must be linked with a character defect you have not really faced, nor do you wish to, because you do not want to abandon it.” – Eva Pierrakos