Practice Instructions: Honesty
Honesty is, in many respects, a core aspect of practice. When we are honest about our inner-world reality, and honest in our presentation to the outside world, the heart is at ease.
Honesty can be cultivated, on purpose, through restraint and by choosing to challenge our conditioned conduct in the world. Cultivation can be done as a preliminary to meditation practice. The Buddha prescribed perfecting conduct and generosity as a way to settle the heart before one delved into the inner work.
Honesty can also arise naturally in response to our development. As we sit with our inner world, and become more present with our actions in relationships, dishonesty will begin to be noticeably painful.
Because dishonesty feels bad, and because we more consciously see the consequences, we naturally move toward making honesty a priority. Somehow, our beliefs about the usefulness of lying get revealed to be bogus.
Honesty flows easily from this seeing. In a court of law, you will be punished for lying. In the spiritual realm, punishment is simply how we feel.
So, where have we been permitting dishonesty, or simply been unconscious about its role?
Categories of dishonesty are numerous: white lies, exaggeration, drama, beating around the bush, using lingo, insincere encouragement or advice. In our inner world, dishonesty can show up as not wanting to, or not being able to, turn toward what is actually happening inside. We might turn to blame, story, etc., to escape a deeper truth and self- responsibility.
The shift in relationship to honesty does not need to go from free flowing lies to radical honesty. It requires more nuance than that. More presence-awareness. More understanding of why we choose to say what we say. More pause. More open inquiry. When we find ourselves in a lie or on the verge of one, we try to turn back inward to see the motivation. What are we trying to avoid? What do we believe will happen? What are we afraid of?
Our favorite question/inquiry in this realm is:
"What is true that can/should be said right now?"
You will find that honesty is related to the development of boundaries, strength, clarity and compassion.
So, a gentle invitation to bring honesty into the spotlight in your practice. There is no blame in this. It is simply awareness of. Let the seeing of dishonesty, the physical consequences, and the felt-sense consequences be the learning. The more awareness you bring, the more pause you will find. And magically, the more honesty you will find.