The Buddha said, ‘There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting.’
Some time ago, when my life was going bumpety-bump, I made a commitment to telling the truth – well, as much as I knew how at the time. In other words, ‘going all the way’. It’s not that up until that moment, I was a liar. I guess I was just like most of us. I preferred to leave the lines a little blurry at times or, in the extreme, I was in denial about what I saw in myself or others.
Telling the truth is crazy for many reasons. One is that you might hurt someone’s feelings by being honest, which is rarely a desirable outcome. Another is that you often don’t know what the truth is until sometime after the fact. Even then, it’s your truth and may not fit with someone else’s. Still another reason to skirt around truth telling is that seeing the way things are can be painful. And, the pain level can go up and up when you take full responsibility for your actions, words and thoughts.
Last week I experienced an emotional upset that involved my relationship with my husband. I’d been harbouring certain paranoias, and, as I thought about them, I sank down into a well of despair.
To my credit, I’ve created an empathetic group of people around me with whom I can share my most vulnerable feelings. I think I can safely say that these special friends practice walking the road to truth.
After dinner one night, my friends listened to my sad story. They heard me out with wisdom born of years of life experience. I told my truth and, however painful it was for me, took responsibility for my situation.
Then, a magical healing happened. Something about the way my friends listened to me, not with their ears but with their hearts, reminded me of my own basic goodness. Their support was like a rope ladder thrown down the dark well so I could find my way out.
There’s something called ‘Buddha nature’ which isn’t quite a thing. Rather, it’s that part of ourselves that is intrinsically good. It’s the reason why we need to tell the truth. In a culture of compassion, love and caring, we get to touch on the greatness of who we fundamentally are.
Am I completely healed? Given human nature, I’d say, probably not. But one thing is clear, I trust the path.