Clear Motivation

"Be kind whenever possible. It's always possible" – The Dalai Lama


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Afraid of the Truth, Angry at Lies

In my job, I’ve heard conflicting claims between coworkers and management. Aside from the irritation and uncertainty about how to proceed in future communications, I’ve become quite curious – Why in the world do we tremble at the thought of telling the truth?

Clearly, nobody likes to hear a lie. I get so upset when I think people are lying to me! Nobody likes feeling suspicious of others, especially of those on whom our livelihoods depend. That’s both the employers and the employees. In the case of society, that includes the politicians, the business people, and the public. We all depend upon each other.

Yet, it seems that we’re so afraid of losing something for ourselves that we hide the truth, often without even thinking. We try to protect our money, our prestige, our power, whatever it is.

Like when I was requesting a raise yesterday, I tried to hear the needs of my employer while stating my own feelings and needs. Still, at one point, a little lie crept in… I could almost see it, as though it were a hollow phantom memory veiling the silhouette of truth behind it.

I was convinced it were the truth. Why was I afraid that if I didn’t make this one comment, my case for meriting a raise wouldn’t be strong enough and I would be left despairing?

In reality, we don’t lose anything useful when we speak truthfully. We only lose the tight chains of the self-centered attitude and our very fear itself.

In my experience, there is a vulnerability that comes with transparency. But it isn’t something to be afraid of – in fact, it’s quite liberating. It’s a space of open possibilities and a commitment to kindness towards others above all else.¬† Instead of getting the raw end of the deal – as we think we will if we’re totally forthright – we gain self-respect and appreciation from others.

Because which is more painful – occasionally not getting the very best for ourselves or having constant anxiety throughout every interaction, worrying that we might get taken advantage of or not get out ahead? Is it more stressful to once in a while say something our friends dislike or to always worry that someone might think we’re uncool?

Deceitfulness is an attribute of “spiritual numbness,” aka self-centeredness. It is blind to the reality of our equality with all living beings. Therefore, the only reliable method to actively transform that attitude is by thinking about the experiences of others. Seeing that they, too, cherish truthfulness and despise dishonesty, we can really begin to adopt honesty as the best policy and make our lives more wholesome.

Where does that leave me? With a lot of nice words and a nasty habit to subdue. Today, I will call my employer again. And I will scrutinize every thought that arises, rooting out selfish intentions and staying mindful that the person on the other end is, just like me, simply wishing for happiness.

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Television Vortex

Last night I experienced the deepest meditative concentration I can remember… while watching a TV show.

It’s shocking to me how readily my mind becomes absorbed in total television fantasy, even after repeated¬† examination of its barren value and years of abstinence from it. Alas, I have not for a day gone sober from my own day dreams, so it should come as no surprise that I get hooked in to the imagination of another.

I wonder what great use of my life I could make if I engaged my thoughts in understanding the nature of reality or developing love and compassion with as much gusto as I think about the characters and plot of the newest detective thriller?

What if I give up on, “Oh, where’s he going? What’s that shiny thing in the clock!? No way, look at that!!!” Then follows all my proliferation, imagining what I would do were I the protagonist (and of course, I’m always the lead star).

What if I focus instead on, “How wonderful it would be if everyone in the universe had everything they desired and experienced unceasing joy and peace of mind! What are all of my fellow beings experiencing right now? What are Congresspersons feeling? What are the birds and critters in hibernation feeling?

“What is going on with the mother in poverty watching her twin babies starve to death? What is going on with the mother in spiritual poverty, so obsessed with being the best and acquiring the best that she barely has a moment to watch her children? May all of these people and all beings be free of every form of suffering!”

Today, I’ll reflect that I myself am a conditioned phenomena. I will exert myself to not succumb to the easy path of hypnotic boob-tube trance. I’ll use my capacities for the path of intelligence and altruism. I do not want my mind to atrophy!

And if I become skillful in reflecting on the dependently arisen nature of phenomena, then even an activity as mundane as watching TV becomes cultivation of wisdom.

I won’t just see the show. I’ll see producers, writers, directors, actors, cameras, lightboxes, computers. I’ll see inventors and engineers, laborers in China and Korea, miners digging up metals, and workers extracting and refining petroleum. I’ll see trends coming and going and blends of humor getting concocted. I’ll see bands of light entering an iris and projecting colored wavelengths onto rods and cones, and the meeting of the object, the sense organ, and the consciousness, producing a subjective perception.

Today, I’ll bring this type of awareness to bear on whatever my mind encounters. This will allow me to avoid getting sucked into the vortex – and it’s not the vortex on the TV screen that’s really a problem; those are just shapes and colors. It’s the vortex of my own delusion and unawareness that grasps appearances as existing independently, from their own side, that I seek to demolish.