Passionate Honesty

Dear Scott, Hope the millennium is unfolding itself well for you. I read your emphasis on craving being a great cause for pain. I wonder how one should give up craving? I mean, is it a split-second process? or does one gradually talk through and make a “right” choice. I’ve heard that a lot depends on one’s lifestyle (lazy vs active) , what one eats – spices, meat, alcohol, cigarettes and lack of exercise increases ones urges and desires. Is this true? Would not doing all the above make me a wise and happy person? I’m constantly confused!!

To be sure, a healthy diet, exercise, yoga, meditation practice, avoiding toxic substances and so forth all make it a lot easier. Healthy, mutually supportive, respectful, honest friendships, and the generous giving and receiving of affection are also enormously helpful. But the core of this is passionate curiosity, ruthless self-honesty. In saying that, I’m not talking about the kind of honesty that says, yes, officer, you’re right, I was speeding. That may save you from getting a traffic ticket, but it is a compromised and subservient kind of honesty – you are trying to negotiate something.

The kind of honesty I’m talking about is not driven by motive or shaped by any kind of authority or prior assumption at all. Discovering how it really is has to be more important to you than anything else. It has to be more important to you than who you may be sleeping with, or not sleeping with, next week. It has to be more important to you than how much money you are going to make, or how much you owe. It has to be more important than what people feel and think about you. It has to be more important to you than your relationship, or lack of one. It has to be more important to you than whether you will get what you want, in the near future, or ever. It has to be more important to you than whether you will have to continue putting up with people or circumstances you think you can’t stand. In other words, you must be more on fire for the truth than anything else. Otherwise, you have nothing to go on.

So you have to give it your undivided attention, as you would an artistic endeavor that is very important to you, or a new lover, or a project upon which your professional success depended. There must be an uncompromised sense of no matter what the cost is, I’ve got to know what the truth is. If you do this, you will soon realize that a life that is compared unfavorably to fantasies or commentaries about how it could be or should be is not a life at all. How long it takes is not important. Such a life is dead and dull and boring and shallow. It is not only contemptuous of the present (about which it knows nothing), it is completely unaware of anything other than its own narrow, fictitious versions of things. There is no joy and no love and no freedom in it at all.

Once you discover that, it will be clear that what you are craving and clinging to, what you are worshiping, is a corpse. If you linger in this awareness, it will dawn on you how meaningless it is, and there will be nothing to do but let go, because you will also realize there is nothing real to hold onto. It is just a fantasy. There is nobody there.

The only way any of this can happen is for you to hunker down and find out for yourself. Nobody can do it for you. What you discover may be embarrassing and disappointing and even sickening. But it’s worth it, ten thousand times over. Because what you gain is this whole wide world, new and fresh and uncorrupted by memory, comparison, trivialization, or contempt. What you gain, in the absence of mental and emotional distractions driven by desire, is the discovery of your own pure, sensitive, subtle awareness everywhere. What you gain is the discovery of your own pure, innocent Self.

-Your own Self-
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