We Cannot Be Honest In A Spiritual Centre
We can be honest outside…

…but in being honest, we are acknowledging a part of ourselves that we are frightened of, and that we fear could open a floodgate of doubts. We have doubts because we are uncertain and lack total confidence. We have joined something which has not been explained completely, so people become protective and defensive.

There is a difference between being Buddhist and being a practitioner.

There is a difference between being a practitioner and being a person whose practice is the continuity in daily life.

We are looking for something to give us a sense of direction, something that we are longing for. Interestingly,the word ‘competitiveness’ comes from competit: โ€œto strive forโ€, so you can see the dual problem. We either long for or strive for something that can inspire us, or that same thing can make us blind to anything other.

After a moment of honesty, a barrier is created to protect that which has been exposed, as we feel vulnerable. ‘Honest’ is honest about the way we feel; although the feeling may be mistaken, we are being honest by revealing that is how we actually do feel. This isn’t being true to ourselves; it’s being honest that we don’t understand. Down the pub, we may be honest in expressing our opinions, but in a dharma centre, we expect others to be more empathetic and tolerant of our misunderstandings. But this isn’t the case. If we are honest, people don’t like it. They don’t want to be contaminated by an alternative view to the one to which they have conformed. If they are honest and they speak as they find, then โ€“ metaphorically – they have to kill you ๐Ÿ˜‰ . They do this by not speaking to you again, as they don’t want anyone to acknowledge their weakness and confusion. Pity, because that is precisely their path.

This is subtle hope and fear. People are striving for something and do not want to be contaminated by the doubts of others. This reveals a lack of compassion, empathy, understanding and real confidence.

This competitiveness gives rise to pride and jealousy, which reveals ignorance of everyone’s true nature. Competitiveness is having or displaying a strong desire to appear to be more knowledgeable or successful than others. Alternatively, we could display inverted pride of being extra humble.

In ordinary life, emotions happen all the time, as we make judgement to cope, but it is not so intense. A spiritual centre reflects our emotions, smashing us in the face…wham! This is because we still think we shouldn’t have emotions โ€“ and this is where proper instruction is essential to understand the wisdom aspect in everything, including the so-called negative emotions which are vital for progress.

If we were honest, compassionate and confident we could spar cheerfully with one another, and be of mutual benefit. But all we seem to want to do is appear better than others – especially in the eyes of the teacher – so we conform to a system and gaze at the guru, hoping that will put everything right. But it doesn’t, as we still have to go home. People are people and protect ‘their self’.

Outside the dharma centres, ordinary people are often more helpful and friendly, and do not have the same intensity. They may no have awareness of โ€œthe viewโ€ but for short moment, they have a good heart.

In short moments we all have a good heart.
The good heart is our true nature.

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  1. daisymae21 says:

    Hello Tony, and thanks for today’s article. Unfortunately, I completely agree with the sentiments expressed. I have to be honest ๐Ÿ˜‰ – I’m not saying I’m right, but I’ve had enough experiences within the spiritual community to know that I have to keep my mouth shut because people do not want to hear from me because I don’t offer the party line. And it has been my experience that there have been moments of connection where people have confided in me, and then turned their back, leaving me to conclude, just as you have done, that they regret opening up and showing their vulnerability.
    I keep hoping that honesty and openness can become the norm, but until there is a fundamental shift in the attitudes that are prevalent in spiritual groups (self preservation, competitiveness, oneupmanship) this won’t happen.
    So it’s just become a matter of noting the limitations and restrictions of such organisations, and also noting my own genuine feelings and emotions, and then getting on with things. As you say, that is our path and to deny it is to cut off the flow of karmic dynamics.
    Thanks as always

    • tony says:

      I know this will sound like a cliche,
      “all we have to do is be honest with ourselves.”

      This is merely being aware of our own tendencies and reactions,
      and most of all be gentle with them. Once we can ‘do’ this and
      find confidence in being the way we are, which is only a temporary
      fixation, we can then ‘do’ this for others.

      It is all about being confident, compassionate and skilful when
      interacting with others. ๐Ÿ˜€ short moments many times….!


      • daisymae21 says:

        Thanks for your thoughts, Tony, I think confidence is perhaps the key – once our trust in our own inner teacher has gained sufficient strength, we can allow others to be the way they are, but not feel we have to be the same way ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

  2. marcel says:

    “I know this will sound like a cliche,
    all we have to do is be honest with ourselves.โ€

    Basic goodness.. Honesty, buddha nature, is very esssence to what we are. It’s what we are. We are honest beings. Without honesty and truth, everthing would be dust. How could the world exist without a force to hold this whole stuff together?

    However, there is a time for everything. To say โ€œall we have to do is be honest with ourselves.โ€ is true in itself, but saying this, doesn’t prevent young honest and truthfull adults, from getting traumatised and from building up thick layers to shut-off from reality. A precious survival mecanism from mother nature to protect the inner child. A kind of maturity is required before the veils will drop. It’s not so much related by being honest, while we basically are honest, pure and good. As you see, I leap in this faith… ๐Ÿ™‚

    As you said, life is a bloody challenge. Illusion, and reality reduction, through filters, concepts, helps to go through this life of samsara, into the next, and so on. Ego is a wonderful tool of nature to protect the buddhahood from external forces.

    To being gentle and to have confidence, are some very wise words. Hope and fear cannot alter the season. Honesty is our nature. The defense will drop when it’s the moment.

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