My life has been a story of radical truth. A new friend, Lindley, shared this poem with me last week.
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
William Stafford ~
The thread in my life has been my inner search for my own truth. What is my truth, and how do I express that in the world. And how do I support other people to express their truth? This path, combined with truth’s twin, Integrity, has been my constant companion.
I was chatting via email with another new friend I met at the State of the World Forum in Brazil, Mounir Tabet, about the subject of Radical Truth..
“I am very intrigued by your concept of Radical Truth and it seems to me that to get to it one has to cross many barriers: first one has to recognize that he is not speaking or living truth; second one requires a great degree of courage to be in truth because at some level and until one is in full alignment with truth, the consequences of being in the truth are costly (as one starts to be in truth, one’s world starts to change. He may lose friends and jobs and acquaintances that he sustains in absence of truth-even though they drain him)-of course once one has made the transition to full and radical truth – he shall be set free as divine knowledge seem to intimate-but of course at that stage he is a completely transformed man; third one requires a great degree of self love to forgive himself for having sustained his life for so long in absence of truth. In many cases, most of us are not ready to tackle these (and perhaps other) barriers since at some level we know that the initial price is too high the ego has to die but our egos usually fight hard to stay alive.”
Mounir speaks of radical truth with the wisdom of someone who knows the journey.
Yes, we do need to identify what is truth for us. And what is not. For so many of us, this is very hard, as we have lived a life like a cork bobbing in a huge ocean, going with the tide, never really choosing with consciousness where we want our path to go. As if we were under a spell. And we may or may not wake up. Some people never do. As Mary Oliver says,
“Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”
How do we know what our truth is? We know because our heart sings, and our body hums along with it, and people comment about the light in our eyes, and say thank you to us often for what we bring, no matter how small or large. Because we get out of bed and we are awake, and we want to go and do our work in the world. Who we are on every level is integrated, we only have one face that all the world sees. There is no face for certain events and occasions, and another face for other events and people.
Radical truth requires no separation of self on any level, or in any aspect.
Sometimes the very thing that is stopping us from accessing our truth is the fear that says living our radical truth will cause so much pain to others, and to us. We would rather stay numb and comfortable, than step out into the light of truth, because it’s promise is so unknown. So we keep to the world we know, never really awake. This fear can be so huge that the only way we can become aware of it is to go into a very dark night, and often for a long time. The dark night is the incubator and birth place for our radical truth. It can also be the place where all of our separate selves are integrated into one whole.
The simplicity of who we really are is right before us, but so far from our grasping because we have not the eyes to see. In the wonderful movie, “Julie and Julia,” there was a fabulous scene where Julie, the young woman searching for the truthful expression of her life, was agonizing with her husband..what should she do?…as they were both feasting on this amazing food she had made. She was feasting on the very obvious truth of her life and expression. Often times the journey to this place is long and hard, simply because only when we have developed the eyes to see our radical truth, can we then allow it to blossom with the integrity it demands to thrive.
Courage is essential. Courage is a heartfelt commitment to stepping out to meet truth. We have to build the nerve, hold the nerve, and trust. There are no guarantee’s. None at all. Our stepping out may be a rocky road. So many people expect that their life of radical truth will guarantee the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…well…I do believe it will…but do be very careful what you expect the pot of gold to contain…money, wealth, the relationship of your dreams, fame, the best seller….non of these items might be in your pot of gold. The Gold may be a quiet life in a little cottage in nowhere land. Simple, and yet deeply resonant because it is your truth. Our ego wants our truthful life to look a certain way. The paradox is that this is not the truth. It is our ego speaking.
Discerning between the truth and the ego is the work of the wise and experienced, those people willing to surrender to all. How does your ego voice speak to you? Often ego is emotional, demanding, and has little space for service to others, or others at all. Your truthful self is quiet, calm, ever present, steady, holds a big big space for others, and celebrates the joy of all of life in all its shapes and sizes.
It is through self love that we allow our truth to speak. The ego self is the part of us that will be overly critical, get angry, throw tantrums, tell you you are an idiot, incapable, a fool…
Accessing our radical truth requires self love, self reflection, and a core willingness to surrender, relax and let go to what emerges. It is not a passive state, but it is relaxed and has less effort than the effort required to live a lie.
Achieving self love and a life of radical truth is a life’s work. We start with small steps. The fastest way I know to reach a place of aligned truth is to work with a teacher, guide, coach…
The people I admire most on earth, alive or dead, have all lived a life of uncompromising radical truth. The Bucky’s, Anita Roddicks, Richard Bransons…and so many other less famous people.
As Rumi said..
“there is some kiss
with the whole
What is your radical truth?