To be honest…
For six years, I have aimed to be as honest as possible—to report what I think and feel with accuracy. Yet it is an illusion and to practice honesty in this way is only a means to see the illusion. It is an illusion because the semantic content in words has little value—as they say, it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it. So what you say makes little difference—not no difference, but little difference.
In fact, if you try to be honest with regards to the semantic content you will become lost. It is too hard to be honest in that way, and the other person will not correspond—also, at last, you realise there is no “you” behind what you say. The idea there was a “you” that was guarded by lies was an illusion—the honesty was only a way to destroy that illusion.
Hence an honest conversation in the true sense would include a dialogue like so: “Are you coming over today?” “I have a cold.” “Oh?” “You might catch it.” “I might.” “It’s quite bad.” “You might as well not come ever again then.” “The cold says no.” “Does it? “It’s a spiritual cold”. So one person in the exchange wasn’t “honest” at one point, from a certain perspective, because they do not have a cold in the biological sense.
Yet the whole exchange is much more rich and means a lot more than if they’d said, with conventional honesty, “I’m fine, I just don’t want to come over—I feel lazy today”. The reason being that nobody really knows why they do something, hence to report in factual terms why you do or do not do something can be more shallow and more dishonest.
In particular, it can destroy relationality because people will interpret the basic facts in a particular way and that can destroy relationships rather than allowing the process to unfold—further, it is less “real” to say “I didn’t feel like it” than to say “I had a spiritual cold” because nobody really knows why they do anything, so the words are always a blind anyway. If you argue about the reasons—try to rationalise—you will get nowhere, just make each other more and more angry, and most of what you say will just be non-rational implicit communication anyway.
Yet to speak as described above is not to lie. It would be a lie to think, “I don’t want to go, I’ll tell them I have a cold.” Rather, this is about loyalty to moment to moment expression and then leaving that expression open. It’s about pausing and then letting the words come from the void and then saying them whether they make sense or not and then staying with that, because although it might seem odd to say “I have a cold” when you don’t just because the words came to you, if you leave it open, so that eventually you say “it was a spiritual cold”, you have achieved a deeper honesty and relatedness.
So it is in this sense that I now pursue honesty. I wait for nine seconds, wait for the words to form and then whatever comes I say. And it doesn’t really matter because what is really at stake is the rhythm, the relatedness between two people—and to speak in this quasi-poetic way actually helps you get much deeper into what “honestly” is going on (which we do not know, but there is a process and we can go with the process—which means to give it space to unfold, that is our honesty).
I think it is this relatedness that has the ultimate value, not whether what you say is factual or not—or moral or immoral, since statements about morality cannot be empirically verified anyhow, and so amount to emotional reactions anyway.
This way to think about honest communication is also related to the language of the Golden Age, to ancient Egypt—it’s related to a world where everything is poeticised. That is the only way to be honest, to speak in such a way as the process unfolds through you—to act so as to maximise potentialities, which is to be as God.