The more honest and authentic we are, the more deeply we go into the mystery of our own being.– Adyashanti
Professor Broom: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.– from Hellboy (2004), quoted in Wikipedia
John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
Abe Sapien: (who’s psychic) Yes, you are.
Professor Broom: Rasputin is back for him. What I’m asking of you is to have the courage to stand by him when I am gone. He was born a demon; we can’t change that. But you will help him, in essence, to become a man.
One of the most valuable qualities on a healing and spiritual path is sincerity, a pure heart. As Broom says, this is a recurrent theme in some of the traditional legends and perhaps most famously the grail legend (Perceval).
Sincerity allows us to be more honest with ourselves, and that’s essential for emotional healing, awakening, and embodiment.
Is also essential for having a meaningful and juicy relationship with ourselves and others, one that allows for authenticity, growth, and surprises.
If we have some sincerity, it doesn’t matter so much if we are young or inexperienced on the path we are on. Sincerity is gold, and we can always learn tools and we will gain experience.
Is sincerity something we can learn or develop? Perhaps not. But I can notice when I am not sincere and I can then shift into sincerity.
Sometimes, it’s not so easy. We may be caught in fear of a situation or something coming up in us and retreat into defensiveness to try to stay safe. That’s OK. Again, it helps to notice. I can be honest with myself about what happened. And that, in itself, is sincerity.
It also helps to notice what in me takes me away from sincerity. What is the fear about? What is the fearful story? What beliefs do I find? Identifications? And then explore it further, befriend it (find healing for my relationship to it), and perhaps find healing for the issue itself.
As I wrote the second paragraph (“Sincerity allows us….”), I noticed a synchronicity in the lyrics of the song I was listening to:
There are times when a man needs to brave his reflection,– Sting and Rob Mathes, I love her but she loves someone else
And face what he sees without fear,
It takes a man to accept his mortality,
Or be surprised by the presence of a tear.
Image: The Achievement of the Grail by British Artist Sir Edward Burn-Jones design, William Morris execution and John Henry Dearle flowers and decorations, from the Holy Grail tapestries 1891-94, Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham, wool and silk on cotton warp.
In order to be sincere you must let go of being judgmental toward yourself. Being judgmental covers over your access to true sincerity and at times even masquerades as sincerity. True sincerity reveals a powerful form of clarity and discernment that is necessary in order to perceive yourself honestly without flinching or being held captive by your conditioned mind’s judgments and defensiveness. The capacity and willingness to be honest with yourself is your greatest guard against self-deception and deceit, and aligns you with your genuine aspiration. There is no greater challenge for a human being than to be completely honest with oneself as well as with others, and yet such honesty is absolutely necessary if we are ever to awaken from our dream of separation and live a truly genuine and undivided life. – Adyashanti
I listened to the audio from the first session of the The Way of Liberation webcourse with Adyashanti, and he talks about our fears of living from sincerity.
I notice there are certain situations and areas of life where it’s more challenging for me to live from sincerity – to hear what’s true for me, to live from it, to be real, to live with integrity, to hear and live from my inner guidance, the quiet voice of the heart.
It’s good to look at what my fears are in each of these situations, to stay with what I find, let it inform me, and find and feel and take it what’s more true for me.
What am I afraid would happen if I am sincere? What’s the worst that can happen?
I may live mostly from sincerity, but there are some situations and areas of life where I hold back. One of the ways I hold back is to sometimes not admit to myself what I know that I don’t want to know. Another is when I shy away from finding a clear intention to feel, take in, and live from what’s true for me, especially when it runs against remaining fears and beliefs. Another is not consistently recognize what’s here as already allowed, as awareness, as love. So how do I stop myself? What I fear the most of living from complete sincerity is….
It won’t be worth it.
People will see me as a fool.
I will have to make uncomfortable changes in my life.
I won’t be up to it. I won’t be able to do it.
I will go half way and stop (and it will leave me in a difficult situation).
I won’t know where it takes me.
I will have to give up my life (my plans, wishes, desires, hopes).
I will have to give up the ways I (subtly) manipulate others to get what I want.
Any practice can be used to solidify the sense of I and its identities.
And so also with inquiry.
When I do The Work, I sometimes notice I answer in ways that confirm my initial belief. At first glance, I appear to go through the steps and answer the questions truthfully, but looking a little closer, it is obvious – to myself and probably to others, that I am answering from the perspective of my initial belief.
But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the kingdom and will become greater than John.
– Gospel of Thomas, Verse 48
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
– Mark 18:2-4
What does it mean to become like a child?
It can mean a certain orientation of receptivity, curiosity and sincerity in our relationship with God, ourselves and practice, all within a context of don’t know. Shifting into this, and then noticing that these are already here, they are a natural expression of what we are. (When not clouded over by beliefs in images and stories.)
It can also mean to ask questions that seem silly and naive, to leave no stone unturned, to question that which seems most obviously a given and true – and especially those stories I at first don’t even recognize as a story.
In exploring my own beliefs, I find over and over that there is a sincerity and innocence there. And finding it in myself allows me to recognize the same in others.
Whenever there is a belief – independent of how it looks when it is expressed – there is a touching and beautiful sincerity and innocence there. A sincerity in following the belief and acting as if it is true. And a sincerity in defending it.
After all, whenever there is a belief there is an identification with a story, and a sense of a separate I getting its identity from that story, so it is only an act of love and compassion to defend it.
Attaching to a story – any story – comes more immediately from fear. It is a way to feel a little more safe, at least on the surface. And behind that is love, and act of love to protect that sense of a separate I and its circle of us.
It is beautiful, and appreciation for the sincerity in it inevitably comes up.
And this can of course easily co-exist with any conventional takes on what is happening, including intervening whenever I or someone else is caught up in a belief, and it is causing suffering for others.
It is actually easier to intervene coming from that appreciation of sincerity and innocence. To the extent the innocence is recognized, there is less or no opposition and instead clarity and kindness.
Unusual things are happening. A series of people I don’t know try to connect with me in peculiar ways. I am cautious at first, but then decide to talk with one of them. They want to recruit me to help with catching large scale international drug traders. I will play a small but important part in gaining their confidence, and others will collect the evidence and go in for the catch. It is dangerous. I ask why they want me. They say they need someone they can trust, someone who is sincere and honest. There are not many who has the degree of sincerity and honesty they need. I accept, especially since they are going after the largest fish, the ones who often go free when the smaller ones are caught.
As part of uncovering who and what we are, we need to meet ourselves where we are here and now. We need to take our own immediate experience seriously. Any journey starts exactly where we are. For real results, we need to be real with ourselves.
And the same goes for our relationship with others. For a real relationship, we need to be real with them about where we are, and we need to meet them where they are. We need to take their experience seriously, no matter how different it may be from our own. (If we are honest and look, we can most often find it in ourselves.) And we also need to take their intentions and goals seriously, no matter how different they may be from our own. (Any advice that comes up for us, whether about goals or anything else, is always for us, not for anyone else.)
As we treat ourselves, we treat others, and the other way around.
How do I treat myself when it comes to take my experience seriously? I don’t have to look any further than how I treat those around me.
There are many forms of inquiry, and even many ways to inquiry into “who/what am I?”.
One that I find especially useful right now is (a) identifying something that appears as “I”, and (b) ask “am I in it, or is it in me?”. Invariably, when I stay with it, I find the latter to be more accurate in terms of my immediate experience.
There are sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts, sense of “I” as a center somewhere in/around the upper body, sense of a perceptual center and an awareness center, sense of “I” as the seer, and so on. And all of these happens within what is, within this immense space and expanse.
One aspect I need to work more with is sincerity. I tend to brings something into attention, stay with it for a while, and expect to find it within what is – as happening within space, and I – not surprisingly – do find it that way. But this is not a sincere and open-ended inquiry, and it is just such a sincere inquiry that is needed.
When I “trick” myself into realization, it only works some of the way. A part of what is knows it is not from a sincere exploration, and is not convinced. It is similar to an adult habitually responding to a child’s artistic expressions with “that is wonderful!”, and the child is not tricked. Something is missing.