31 August

Paying The Price: Authenticity And Mindfulness

by Jon Katz
In Truth
In Truth

I’ve always believed that one of the dangers of life, especially later in life, is a kind of spiritual grumpiness, a jaded, irritable, dour view of the world, about change,  the young and the world’s prospects. It’s easy to become skeptical, cynical, the longer I live, the more disappointments I have witnessed and experienced.  There is something draining about having seen everything that happens before, it is difficult to remain hopeful and optimistic.  I sometimes call that old fartism, but the empty life is really not about age, it’s about authenticity and mindfulness.

I find in the past year or so that as my spiritual life has evolved, my impulse to be honest, to be authentic, to be genuine has grown, and I fear this because things I used to slough off, overlook, turn away from are now things I feel I must respond to. I must try and be honest, I must try and stand in my truth, I can’t go along with the bullshit and self-serving delusion that so often appears in front of me, this it is not about grumpiness for me, it is about authenticity, learning over time who I am and being myself. I have a friend who lives in perpetual drama and crisis and won’t face up to her own self-destructiveness, and while it is clearly her business, I can’t participate in the lie that is her life any longer, I just can’t do it. If someone is insincere, dishonest, delusional and they bring these things to me, I have to tell them  how I feel, I have to be  honest, even if this sometimes causes pain and discomfort. That is part of the toll one pays for authenticity, for mindfulness.

I can’t roll over for it any longer, and I wonder if this is my dilemma or that of other people on the hero journey.

My own lessons are too hard won,  and I know and love too many people who have struggled so bravely through addiction, illness, anxiety and despair to awaken, to come to consciousness, to be authentic. I owe it to them to be honest.

Mindfulness is not about being correct or superior, the older I get the less I know. Mindfulness it is about being self-aware, about facing the truth about who you are. Mindfulness is a bridge to the other side, a passage around the world, a trip to another space and place in time. The mindful are refugees, they can no longer live in the world of the mindless, of the hollow men and women, of the people trapped in their own emotional waste and unwilling or unable to climb out. I can sympathize, hopefully always, but I can longer longer go along with a lie. Is that cold, distant, judgmental? I think not, I hope not, our culture seems to sometimes be built on fear and drama and anger. I don’t want to go along with that.

It is, when all is said and done, very difficult to change, it is one of the most difficult things in the world to do. This, I suppose, is why so few people do it. The danger for the mindful is arrogance and self-righteousness, I cannot tell other people what to do, I can only tell other people how I feel. The price for mindfulness is often great, because it separates the mindful from the ethos and values of the world around them. Honesty surprises people, it hurts them sometimes and makes them uncomfortable. I don’t like hurting people, even as I have known for a long time that I make many people uncomfortable.

People run away from truth and honesty. The mindful are different, obviously so, freaks and outsiders. They are not driven by money, they do not live in perpetual crisis, they do not see life as one struggle story after another, they take responsibility for their lives,  they do not mourn the things that are lost, they cherish the things that are gained. They are perpetually offering messages nobody really wants to hear. If the mindful were in control of our world, markets would collapse, health would not be about money, the prisons would empty, the hateful system of politics would implode, work would be loved again, the poor would be comforted as Jesus wished, and corporations would be driven into the sea. The mindful are doomed to live on the margins, shouting their messages to the wind. Still, it is the only place I wish to be, my City Of God.

I am so happy that I am learning to be honest, to stand in my truth, to say how I feel. It feels so affirming, so purifying. How curious that I lived in this world of drama and delusion and panic for so long, and now I can’t bear to be around it. This, I think, is a monumental marker on the spiritual path, when I can’t dance this dance any longer. Learning to be honest – struggling to be honest – is one of the most cleansing and affirming things I have ever done and will ever do.  And I still have so much more work to do, I see this every single day..

More than anything else, I my wish is to evolve into an authentic human. This is a Promised Land I know I will never reach, I just take a vow every day to stay on the road.


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