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The Art Of Not Speaking Falsely

The art of not speaking falsely

Despite the many references to eastern philosophy, I do not see myself as a Buddhist. I truly wanted to become a Buddhist, but as I started studying at the Buddhist center the only thing I could focus on was how to let go of the various roles I had been identified with for years. My only wish was to connect with the core of my being, to that which existed earlier than any definition. I did not want to become anything. All I wanted was to return to that which was originally me. For the same reason, I started relating to the world around me in the same manner. 

What exist earlier than that which is experienced through our senses? Buddha was no Buddhist. The atom existed before we discovered it. I was before my name. Existence was earlier –terms and definitions came later. I wanted to orient towards that which was the earliest, towards the space from which everything came into existence. That space which might turn out to be our common ground.

Shortly after I started my studies, we were introduced to the four noble truths and the eightfold path. Briefly put the first describing the cause of dissatisfaction, the latter methods on how to work with it (again this is overly simplified – the methods and philosophies are much more sophisticated than what I am able to express). We also learned about the five precepts. One of them says you should not engage in false speech. For whatever reason this one caught my attention more than any. 

Like most children here in Norway we learned about the ten commandments in school. We were not religious as such, but I remember my parents telling me not to lie. But because the Buddhist precept was formulated the way it was, for the first time I realized it had to do with me. I am the one suffering when not being honest, not the world. 

For instance – if I present myself as someone I am not, I will be met by a lie. This because it is a response to something that is not true in the first place. If I have to cover up the fact that I am sad by saying that everything is fine, I doubt that there will be any support coming my way. 

I started paying attention to my everyday life, to when I was honest and when I was not. It did not take long before I caught myself writing text messages when being invited to this and that. Due to a bottomless fear of never ever being asked again, I found it extremely difficult turning people down. My solution was a variety of innocent white lies like I am having plans already, I am busy, I was out of battery on my cell phone and so on. Anything but telling the truth. There and then it was decided – no more lies. 

I remember the first text message I received after making my commitment. I was tired and wanted to spend the evening at home. My fingers had automatically started replying, but when I looked down at the screen on my phone I was already formulating an answer that would be able to pass a lie detector test. I stopped and deleted what I had written. Then I started all over again, this time being honest. It took all my effort to be able to say that I was tired and did not feel like going out. I was afraid that I would be perceived as being negative, reserved and ungrateful. Still – as I became more aware, it got easier to remain truthful. And even more important I got to experience that being honest was good enough. Like everything else there are always new layers to peel off. I still hear the anxious inner voice from time to time, wanting to present the decent and proper answer. Every time this is being observed, it makes it easier to allow truth to speak for itself with no interference from my side. It seems to work better that way.

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exist. Herein lies the peace of God. “

– A.C.I.M

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