Strangely enough, the same week our Vipassana meditation group (AIM) explored truthfulness, two people whom I consider close friends were both independently and blatantly dishonest with me. There was no question about the fact that they were lacking truthfulness. My questions were WHY and HOW should I respond?
During the actual dishonest occurences, mindfulness revealed that I was experiencing some major physical contraction and discomfort. Given this, I realized that anything I said or did would come across pretty unskillfully, so I didn’t say or do anything to my so-called friends at the time.
Since both instances happened on the same day, within a couple hours of each other, once the dust settled, I felt a little shell-shocked! Once I got over the shock, my initial internal reaction was to feel confusion, followed by the thoughts of being disrespected and dishonored, which resulted in feeling angry and finally hurt. Wow! All that within a few moments!
I gave myself the time, loving kindness and attention I needed to feel what was arising in my mind, heart, and body. I also saw how this process of taking my SELF so seriously caused a great deal of internal strife as evidenced by a mindstorm of repetitive, negative thinking, physical discomfort, and hurt feelings. Wow again!
Finally, my mind, heart, and body calmed, leaving a huge space of loving kindness and compassion for myself and my friends. I clearly saw and understood how their own internal stress motivated their dishonesty, and I felt a great sense of compassion for the huge amount of fear or contractedness any sense of self can manifest – in each of us!
From this grounded place, I was able to decide whether addressing the two friends would be skillful or even necessary. Wisdom communicated to me that one of my friends would not be open to receiving anything I had to say about the matter, and that any such actions would only motivate more ego development and stress, so I did nothing. Wisdom did motivate me to tell the other person some of the process I experienced as the result of her actions, and how sad I felt during our time of perceived disconnection. We ended up having an open, honest, and deeply healing and connected conversation.
Obviously, I’ve left a lot of details out of this story, but the main point is that these things happen to all of us more often than we’d like to admit. Sometimes, we are dishonest to with others to protect our fear-based ego selves from looking bad, being misunderstood, disliked, or rejected. During our dishonest protection of our SELVES, we are stuck in a mind habit pattern that we’ve used as an ego survival mechanism. This is a very painful pattern to be stuck in. Most everyone has been there.
Before you confront someone else’s dishonesty, it is very important to first be grounded in the other person’s motivating disconnection and pain. This will help you come from a place of compassion, as opposed to judgement or blame. Then, let your inner wisdom guide you as to whether to say anything at all, as well as guide your words.
It is important to remember that because we all have these crazy human minds, we are all delusional to one degree or another. It is irrational to expect delusional minds to operate with clarity, caring, and perfection at all times.
We get to have patience and compassion with ourselves and others. If the other person’s level of delusion motivates regular dishonest communication, we also get to decide who we want to be in close relationship with.
Most importantly, we continue to commit to practicing every moment, on the cushions and off, in order to gradually peel these layers of delusion away. As we do so, beauty, clarity, love, and connection take over.