It is hot outside. The sun brazes over the concrete and glasses, and made everything bright and burning. One who is used to living in the city might not pay much attention, but if someone were new to all the traffic and lights and the burning temperature coming from the ground, they might get overwhelmed quite quickly. There are some trees outside, under which the shadow provides the few sanctuaries from overexposure. Inside, the air conditioning is not too intense, and a few lone customers sit at separate tables, occupied by their own business on the smartphones. Pop music is playing, and this whole place seems dead, without any energy, as if an overheat dog was about to draw its last breath on the roadside.

We are isolated, by walls, screens, glasses, fences. Yet, beyond the physical, we also feel a tremendous sense of inner isolation. There is always a hint of the utter selfishness of the world. Everyone is out to get their own rewards, profits, trophies, accomplishments, and seldom do we consider each other. When we do consider, we do so out of self interests. I might be considerate to the other, because I can get something in return. That something could be money, emotional support, validation, praise, sex, and so on. I might be kind so that others will see me as kind, and I derive pleasure from this image. I might be gracious because I like the attention, the acknowledgement and so on. The self is always seeking a reward, something that satisfies itself. So, when this facade breaks, when the praises and validation do not come as expected, there arises hatred, frustration, annoyance, and one is not kind nor gracious anymore. The consideration stops, and one realizes that one is not actually considerate, but only performing to win a reward.

Because of this pervading selfishness, we are isolated. There is seldom communion, a sense of togetherness without any motive or purpose, a genuine communication. It seems to me, that communication has become a game, where there is always something devious, hidden, some ulterior motive. One is never fully honest, in a sense totally naked to the other. We are always hiding, performing, making faces. I don't know if we ever wonder, why has it come to this? Why can we not be honest with each other and ourselves. The tremendous deception that goes on, if one is aware of it, is quite shocking. We tell ourselves things, to convince ourselves, to persuade ourselves, that I actually like living this way, or I actually love this person and so on, but deeply we know they are simply lies. Yet there seems to be so much pressure to convince ourselves of who we are, what we should or should not do, and we cannot ever live freely. This is a tremendous problem, because if we live in this constant pressure, the consequent conflict and tension will express as anger, violence, hatred, and we only end up hurting ourselves and each other.

So, to me, it is extremely important to find out, whether one can ever live with radical honesty. Honesty is effortless. Honest communication is the expression of what is. It takes no calculation or motive. It is simply so. Yet we are conditioned to lying, to double-talk, to pretend and perform. All such actions take effort, and they are the source of conflict within oneself. That inner tension must be dissolved, and we are used to its dissolution through violent acts, through shouting, entertainment based on sensory shocks, and so on, which are all fundamentally violent. And violence is the beginning of hurt, of trauma, and in this cycle we are caught. So, to live honestly means to live without a single shadow of pretense, to not perform, to not fake a smile, to release the thoughts and sensations of each living moment.

Can we do that? Because doing so means a fundamental shift in our life. Because the society is based on lies, violence, performance, and to live radically honestly is to exist in aloneness. Honesty does not mean I will be liked, or I will be disliked. It does not result in a romantic lifestyle, where people become friendly and kind. Honesty, unfortunately in this society, is an act in aloneness. It might mean one cannot do one's job anymore, because one might finally face the fact that it is utterly meaningless. It might mean that one's economic survival becomes tremendously difficult, because honesty is not what the market desires. Our commercial activities are based on performance, the superficial, and when one is honest, one has no value to commerce, and therefore the market might reject you. Being totally honest does not mean others will be pleased, because so much of our pleasure is based on pretense, the fake, and that which is real and actual might shock or frighten the ones seeking to be pleased.

Yet only in this honesty, can a sense of communion comes into being. Then, one communicates without effort and direction. One is not concerned about public image, the pressure from society, or one's own motive. Such communication is the very expression of freedom, because it is not directed by anything, yet it flows like water, ever alive, and sensitive to its surroundings.

Isolation begins when one performs, pretend, because in that performance one has already built a wall, worn a mask. And we are asking, why are we isolated? Are we willing to put down the mask? That might mean utter vulnerability. That might mean I have no psychological protection. That might mean I am subject totally to the judgement and violence of the world. So it is also important to find out, whether one can never be hurt. So to live honestly, to inquire into the source of isolation, is an extraordinary act of discovery. And can one never be hurt? So we must ask, why am I hurt? What is it that is hurt? Is it that the masks, the pretense protect us from pain, or are they the very source of pain? We do not know. But to inquire into this matter of pain, of trauma is utterly important to life, because it means one's life is a living expression of honesty, and therefore of communion.

Why do we feel vulnerable? Is it because of the fear of judgement? That seeing us as actually who we are, others then have the power to judge us, to have opinions, flattering or insulting? We are afraid of words, are we not? We are afraid of opinions, which are made up by words, and we give tremendous importance to words, don't we? If we do not give undue importance to words, why would we be bothered by them? How can words describe who we are? And who are we? Are we a series of descriptions and opinions? Is that the totality of a human being? So, we are really asking, who am I, actually? I am not a series of words, and I hope we are all aware of this fact. That means, I am not a description, either flattering or insulting. I am not an idiot, neither am I smart. I am not kind, neither am I cruel. The complexity of who I am cannot be reduced to words, yet we like to do so. We have so many ideas of who we are, who we should be, but those are only ideas. Ideas are too limited, finite, and if we mistake ideas as life, if we think the very essence of life can be found in ideas, then we are lost in our own maze. What is there to be afraid of the word, of an idea? Fear of an idea is illusory, because that very idea is illusory, is only a limited reflection of reality, and we cease to see the totality of life, the totality of a human being.

So, is there hurt at all? Or are we so caught up in the idea of who we are, that anything that insults that idea becomes painful, traumatic, triggering? To not be hurt, therefore, one must exist without a single idea of who one is. This is total freedom from the name, the image, the word in one's psyche. Therefore, fame is not important, nor is accomplishments, trophies, awards, praises. And in the same way, insults leave no mark. Praise and insult are only two sides of the same coin. They are of the same substance, and to want one is to sustain the other. If I stand on no pedestal, nothing can push me down.

If we are totally honest to ourselves, we are nobody. All the names, praises or insults, descriptions and knowledge of oneself are only the masks we have put on. We identify with them, and we give them tremendous importance, therefore in our life the words are important, and reality is not. Lies are important and the fact is not. We have had it upside down. We have sowed the seeds of hurt and isolation ourselves, and we ask, why am I isolated and hurt. It becomes quite absurd, so are we willing to end this absurdity, and live with radical honesty?

Because that which is totally vulnerable is indestructible. It does not resist a thing, therefore it exists in total freedom. It does not build walls, because it does not need to. It is completely secure, not because it has walls and fences, but because it understands a simple fact, that there is no need to resist. The moment resistance begins, pain is inevitable. Pain is pleasure. If we keep seeking pleasure, we only bring about pain as well. We detest pain, yet are we willing to let go of pleasure? Therefore, one is not caught in the opposites, the pleasure and pain, but lives life as a whole, which expresses itself in each living moment. The healing of life is in this instant, and only when there is a forgetfulness of all past, the wound can heal, naturally, without effort. Therefore, nothing can leave a mark. It is like water, indestructible, formless, and constantly washing away the debris of the past.


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash