The more I look, the more it seems to me that among the most personally damaging acts each of us can take is that of turning away from truth.
I’m not talking grand universal truths here – the kind that people claim apply across time and space and across people. It’s quite easy to see that establishing truth in this way is fraught with difficulty.
No, I’m talking about something more basic and immediate: what’s true about this moment, this experience, from the place in which you stand.
If you pay attention, it’s not so difficult to tell when you’re turning away from truth in this way. The truth that you are sad, or joyful, or angry, or despondent, touched or numb, feeling whole or split apart. The truth that this is difficult or painful for you. Or the truth that this is bringing you to life.
The truth that these thoughts you are thinking, whatever they are, are what you are thinking. The truth that what you’re feeling in your body is what you’re feeling. The truth that this place is where you are, and that what you are doing is what you are doing.
When we deny these simple, basic truths to ourselves and others – when we speak of ourselves inwardly or publicly with deliberate inaccuracy – we assault our own integrity. And we cause ourselves tangible harm, in our minds and in our bodies, by putting ourselves at odds with ourselves, fuelling the inner battles that pull us apart.
And then being whole again requires a kind of return, a turning back to the part of ourselves that understands how things really are. A turning back to something simple, and straightforward, the heart of which we’ve known all along.