Restorative Truth Telling
Honesty and truth telling represent a fundamental standard of moral and right living in our society. It made it into the 10 commandments, and although it is seen as a virtue it is not valued much as a useful practical tool in business and politics, mainly because it gets in the way of progress. This is grounded in the wishful attitude that the ends justify the means. I would argue however that if the ends require deception for their realization, then maybe the ends themselves would benefit from reexamination.
Yet the meaning and depth of truth telling as a practice is I think unfathomable. To talk about the deeper aspects of its implications in our lives is to talk about the mysterious and the fantastic.
When we communicate from a place of honesty that is not muddied by our unconscious projections, we cut a path of connection that runs deep with essence and is in direct touch with universal being and absolute truth. In short, we expose the enlightened nature of our relationship.
To suggest that we simply remove psychological projections from our communications is like asking a polka dotted elephant in the middle of the room to remove it's dots. We must however, if we are sincere in our efforts to communicate with more authenticity, engage in practices that help us become more and more aware of them. For instance, what we sometimes think of as honesty is often filled with violence - brutal honesty if you will. This is honesty without compassion or empathy and it represents our tendency to project with self righteousness. Perhaps we just didn't know any better but we can't say that any more. It is time to simply own our projections and recognize their impact.
The key to truth telling with others is being honest with ourselves. When we take responsibility for our fears and projections, we tap into our sense of authenticity, and the clarity and beauty of human interconnection arises of its own accord. It is like having a key that unlocks a door to mutual understanding - the understanding that we are all having the same human experience, and that we all have the same needs, and when we are speaking from our heart, it becomes easy to see from multiple perspectives. It starts with letting down our guard, understanding that the vulnerable part of us that we want to protect is actually our vehicle to authentic connection with ourselves and others.
The strength and courage needed for the daily practice of truth telling arise naturally out of our intention to be real. Not only do we hide the truth from others – we hide it from ourselves unknowingly, and our capacity to discover our own inner truth is the gauge of our realness. For me, recognizing the fact that some days, I could care less about the truth and would even consider a career pursuing ignorance and apathy 16 hours a day, if it paid well, is the beginning of a truth telling session with myself. This is the start because when I admit that to myself, I feel embarrassed, then guilty, then angry, then sad, and then it starts to feel more and more real, and I understand why I keep that vulnerability hidden. That sadness however is only the beginning of my journey – a deep powerful love is also down there - and profound meaning and purpose too – as well as the spaciousness I thought was not available to me in my busy life.
Exposing that vulnerability is not our first thought of the day, and it is counter to our habitual patterns, so in order to engage this practice, we need to make a habit of it – a way of life - and we need to value our love of truth above our beliefs about the bad things that will happen if we are honest. We cannot just say that honesty is a value for us, we must demonstrate it and model it for those we love.