We’re not concerned about external honesty here. That kind of honesty that we want, or say we want, outside to others–well, that’s kind of important, but not for awakening.
I’ve had clinical depression, and any depressive will tell you that depression makes you into a very capable liar. A depressive’s life swings up and down, inexorably, exhaustively, and others’ perception of you swings with it, so you learn to lie to smooth out people’s expectations of you.
We’re not concerned with that kind of honesty here, because external honesty doesn’t have much to do with awakening, except that with awakening the reasons to be externally dishonest disappear.
So it’s worked itself out on its own.
We’re concerned here with internal honesty.
Stark self-honesty isn’t difficult but it does take a little practice to reverse the habit of falling back on conditioned beliefs. And to be honest (hehe), I don’t exactly know how to articulate how to develop self-honesty.
I mean, look. Look inside. It’s not like there are several people in there, so it’s strange that we lie to ourselves in the first place, but this is what we do.
The mind has preferences. When looking at any thing, the mind already wants to believe it is true or it is false, it is this way or it is that way, not based on whether it actually is, but based on the mind’s preferences.
Preferences–based on conditioning and pretexts and grooves and memorized clever sayings and beliefs and approval.
Honesty is not just to see what’s going on inside, but also to suss out whether what you are seeing is real or fiction.
So how do you get this kind of stark and clear honesty?
Well, I don’t actually know how to articulate this.
It takes a willingness.
I don’t consistently have this kind of clear self-honesty. But I know this and so I can work it. The willingness is there.
It’s the willingness to destroy. It’s the willingness to see what the mind does not want to see. It’s the willingness to not fall back to beliefs and conditioned reflexes.
The mind creates. That’s its function — to create symbols and concepts. These are essentially lies because they are representations. And so every belief is a lie. Every desire is a lie. Every emotion is a lie. Every thought is a lie.
If you want anything inside you–if you want peace, if you want compassion, if you want enlightenment, if you want to snuff out fear or anger, if you want anything at all which is different from what is right now, then you have be extra-alert. Wanting can get in the way of stark honesty.
And so this sort of stark honesty requires a willingness, a willingness to see beyond beliefs, to see in spite of beliefs, to stand at the edge of the mind and look.
If you were looking for instructions on how to develop self-honesty, you’re probably disappointed with this.
But can you see how the need for instruction on self-honesty is itself a lie?
Look at it. You just have to be willing.
We only lie to ourselves because we want to. Stand on the edge of mind and decide that any viewpoint can be true and any view point can be false. The mind cannot know, because the mind creates and the mind wants.
You just have to be willing. And self-honesty develops.
Yeah, it does take courage.
It’s not the courage of overcoming fear. It’s more the courage of letting fear and anger be, and doing it anyway.
Look, Truth has only one thing going for it. That’s truthfulness.
Delusion has everything else going for it.
So it does take courage.
It takes courage, because a lot of people who’ve been here, have looked at the release technique or the “You do not exist” thing, might say that something about this makes sense.
But they will not actually try it. Some people will say they don’t understand it. It’s too simple. It’s too hard.
Some people actually get angry. Some are afraid. Some say they are not ready.
That’s where courage comes in. To look at something your mind does not want to look at.
Why you don’t look
So yeah it does take honesty and courage and willingness.
But what it really takes is looking.
Every enlightened teaching points to seeing through the false self as the fulcrum of awakening.
See that who you think you are does not exist. And you’re on your way.
And yet most of us do not tackle this directly. We do everything else, we do spiritual practices and meditation and accumulate knowledge and we become pain-in-the-ass, long-suffering spiritual seekers and philosophers. Really, we do everything–except look directly at the problem.
I didn’t look directly either. I fooled around with other stuff for four years.
Suppose your arm hurts and it is because you are carrying a pebble in your fist. You’ve been carrying it for so long that it is completely familiar. It makes your arm hurt and it makes the small things in life very awkward and big things painful, but you have forgotten you are carrying a pebble in your fist.
Suppose that someone comes along and says, look. Open your fist and look. All you have to do is look. Look. Look.
You have two choices here. You can actually look. Or you can not-look.
Now you might think that reasonable people would just actually look. They would look and decide for themselves. They would look to see if looking is valuable.
But that’s not what most people do. People don’t look because the sense of self is threatened. People dismiss, theorize, meditate, spiritualize, deny, run, cry, and beat you up. They think about responsibility and free will and spirituality and God and goodness and scriptures and morality and they try to see how this fits into their own ossified beliefs and concepts. They debate semantics and they come up with beautiful, validating, and symmetric theories of how this can be true or not true.
People will get angry at me for even suggesting they look. Or they cower in fear.
This is what seeking is. Seeking, without actually looking. It’s utterly useless.
The power of all this seeking does not come from what these concepts and beliefs represent. The power comes from the ego’s will to survive. It is the ego’s fear of awakening.
That’s the human condition.
You don’t exist.
The word you is correct. Some people have a lot of trouble with the semantics. How is it even possible that you don’t exist, when there is all this activity going on? Doesn’t something have to exist to know that you don’t exist?
Of course it does. Existence is real. Awareness is real. Everything is real. The body, the mind, attention, thoughts, emotions–all real. You are not.
To say that the ego does not exist or the false self does not exist, is correct, but that also adds a safe level of abstraction. Most people, especially those who are familiar with awakening, will quickly agree that the false self or ego does not exist.
They’ll agree mentally. But mental agreement is not enough.
You don’t exist.
Look. Look. Actually look.
Looking is the literally the EASIEST faculty we have. It takes no effort notice. Look around you right now. Look at your computer. That’s how easy looking is. It takes no effort to notice.
The mind loves to manipulate mental concepts, pushing them this way and that way, until the arrangement of concepts satisfies something in the mind, and then there is mental agreement, and a boundary is drawn around it, and the mind will defend the boundaries, and vanquish anything that doesn’t fit the symmetry or validation from these concepts, never seeing that all of these mental gymnastics are simply the ego’s will to survive.
That’s pretty basic.
And you can forget about all the spiritual traditions and spiritual concepts. People flock to spirituality not to awaken, but because they are deeply attached to their suffering, and spirituality is a really effective to way to remain attached to your identity as a sufferer.
So you might have already seen through the fantasy of religion, and seen through the elitism of philosophy, and seen through the delusion of spirituality, and seen through the trap of intellectual grasping, and you might have already gone to more direct instruments.
Awareness, release, meditation, presence, acceptance, surrender, honesty, courage, and so on.
But these instruments you are using to awaken are all blunt.
Because you’re doing it all for something that does not exist.
The first thing is to see that there is no you. And all you need to do to see no-you is to look.
And you don’t have to quiet the mind to look. You don’t need to believe. You don’t need to figure it out.
You just need to look.
It’s not like you existed, and someone came by and said here, this is your body, and your mind, and your awareness, and your life. Now go and live your life.
That didn’t happen.
What happened was an infant was born. A body, a mind, awareness, life was born as an infant.
The you came later. You is only an idea.
The you that is weaved into every one of your thoughts and emotions and beliefs does not refer to anything.
Look with the view that you do not exist. See how that can be true. Here, in real life. Not in a magical or mystical way. In actual daily, gritty living.
People will say, wait a minute, hold on there, because I do exist. Here I am. This is my body, and my thoughts, and my life.
There is a body, and there are thoughts, and there is life. It’s not your body, or your thoughts, or your life. Everything exists. Except you.
Is it literally true that you do not exist?