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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Self-Evident Truth?

Yesterday, President Obama quoted the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”

If that were truly self-evident – if it were evident all by itself, independent of any observer or person thinking it – then wouldn’t everyone know it automatically?

We wouldn’t need to learn about history, to observe our fellow human brothers and sisters, to gain a deep awareness of our own deepest aspirations and yearnings and see how they’re reflected in those around us, or even to hear about the notion of equality.

But there are many people for whom, I presume from watching their actions and hearing their words, all humans are not equal. Heck, the androcentric wording of that very line (all MEN) makes it pretty evident that even the drafters of that document didn’t regard all humans as equals.

 

Actually, before I start pointing out others hypocrisies I better ask myself first – do I really see all people equally?

Or do I react to some with immediate attraction, wishing to be near them and help them, while reacting to others with a sense of distaste and disregard? It seems like to know that all people are equal takes quite a lot of analysis and investigation, and a recognition of a very deep quality that is the same for everyone.

Appearances, preferences, beliefs, habits, customs, ideas – all of those are different for each person. What common thread runs through each human that allows our shared equality to be known? For theists, and the drafters of the Declaration of Independence, it’s that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

But clearly, that truth is not self-evident either! I do not see it. Instead, equality can be established on the basis of recognizing that all beings have the same desire for happiness and the same wish to be free of suffering. Further, all beings have equally been kind, in that their existence and actions are supports upon which we all depend for our existence.

 

Today, I will continue to make this truth of the equality of all beings evident to myself. I’ll contemplate the kindness of other beings. Through the simple fact that they exist, they have a mind, they want only what is good and not bad, I’ll be able to halt my discrimination and judgments.

Further, today I will continue to reflect on the dependent nature of phenomena, seeing that no truth is self-evident because its existence depends upon many factors, including the mind that understands it to be true and the conventions that establish it as truth.

From that, I’ll lessen extremism and bias, opening to others and seeing reality more clearly.