I’ve been thinking a great deal about honesty lately. I say “thinking” – “feeling” would be a better word. “Looking” might be better yet. I am learning that healing begins in honesty.
Jesus said “let your yes mean yes,” and I like to repeat that, and preach on it, but it’s fair to say my yes is almost always conditional, almost always shifting ground, and even sometimes at war with itself.
This inconsistency – this dishonesty – is taking place at a fairly deep level, a fairly hidden level. It is in the nature of inauthenticity, and reflects only fear.
This is what happens in our practice of A Course in Miracles (or any serious spiritual path or tradition). We forgive and forgive, we study and study, and then one day – like turning the corner in a forest and coming on a bear – you hit this wall. It’s no good to pretend it’s not a wall, no good to quote the course, or any other spiritual platitude. You can’t fake your way to Christ.
I am talking here about little things: subtle things: things so slight you barely notice them, and yet the whole separation is contained in their execution. I mean being asked by Chrisoula how my day was and playing up certain angles to elicit sympathy. Or writing about my morning walks without really exploring what Jung would have called their “shadow side,” a darkness of which I am perfectly aware, because I prefer thinking of myself – and would prefer to be thought of – as some kind of Thoreauvian mystic with a clear channel to the divine.
A few weeks ago I put some Chinese characters up on my website – they stood for miracle (well, maybe – I don’t speak or read Chinese so maybe they stood for jelly doughnut) – and after a week or so I thought, who am I? I’m not Chinese. I’m not a Buddhist. I’m just trying to capitalize on the whole Eastern mysticism Zen thing.
So I took it down – and replaced it with an image much more spiritually and culturally resonant – but still. We think we’re beyond being shallow or vain and then Jesus says gently, “not so much. Not yet anyway.”
I am working on putting a few books together, and while reviewing proofs came upon a line that read: “I made contact with Christ/outside of history.”
And my first response was: the hell you did.
And the my second was: Oh, Sean. You mean well but you are such a blowhard.
And then I just laughed – at the poem, at myself, at the whole welter of intention and function and brokenness and love. What else is there? Maybe I did make that contact and I forgot. Maybe I made that contact and I’m scared to consistently own up to it. It doesn’t really matter.
But I do want my yes to mean yes.
We have to be patient with ourselves. There’s nothing to be gained by reliving the spirit of crucifixion over and over. We’re beyond that now. We’re into the resurrection now – why pretend otherwise?
Being dishonest – fostering internal dissonance – is not a crime against God. No punishment awaits outside the one in which we already live: the pain of believing we are separate from God. So it’s okay in the sense of no consequences, but if we want to wake up – if we want to know inner peace and joy in a real way, a sustained way, an unchanging way – then we are going to have to look at our priorities. We are going to have to make some changes.
Really, we are going to have to figure out how to live with the single goal of truth. I think it is in the nature of a decision: I am going to live my life wanting nothing but what God gives me. That is a radical statement. And maybe I can only mouth the words but not yet mean it. Okay. I can still be honest about that, right? I can say “Okay, I’m not there yet but I want to be. I am willing to be.”
And that counts. It really does.
It counts because healing begins when we are honest and clear about the need for healing, whatever form it happens to take. This includes our capacity for self-deception. There is no other way. It all has to go on the table so that all of it can be undone.