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Being Direct

My personality of being direct is not something that many of those who knows me not know about. In fact, some may find my being direct has some form of harshness or brutality in it. Interestingly, some find my being direct a gift they embrace for my being honesty and straightforwardness brought them to much understanding, realization, and also a sense of freedom within themselves and also in the relationship that they have with me. Now, I am not saying that I am the one who made them realize. I am merely directing that due to my honest feelings and thoughts about what I observe relating to the other person, the other person who accepts with openness with what I have shared led to their own understanding, realization and freedom. In truth, their understanding, realization or sense of freedom has nothing to do with me but their own willingness to open themselves to possibilities. I’d like to think of myself more as the ‘key’ to the ignition. To start the engine or not is entirely the other’s choice.

So it has dawned on me, since quite recently that my approach of being direct and honest is somewhat ‘harsh’. And ‘harsh’ usually accompanies some form of attack, already willing the other to be on the ‘defense’ mode. And my partner told me earlier, that it is only to those who come to me to seek a way out that my mannerism seems to be coming from the space of clarity and truth, rather than to be of an attack, or judgment. Although I liked what I hear, I cannot deny the feeling of uneasiness when I am being perceived as being harsh and I am more speaking of self-judgment here rather than anything else. I pondered on it, as I usually did, if I could use a more subtle, soft or flowery way to express what I had to say. And I soon realized that if not for a spiritual friend pointing out directly (or rather indirectly) that he is constantly dealing with my harshness, I would not have known that I have judged myself being direct and honest as being harsh. So what is harshness but the opposite of softness, and the mind went back to some memories where there was no harshness in communicating what needs to be exchanged. So, obviously softness and gentleness were present. So how could it be that I am harsh when if I were to conclude what I am must be constant if that is truth?

Another of my spiritual friend, whom I trust very much for her honesty and authenticity with regards to anything that I have to express, shared with me her point of view of harshness. She said that if a person had perceived me, or anyone for that matter as being harsh, the other person very unconsciously has already some subtle form of defense. So it is my problem? In truth, no; because what others perceive and conclude is beyond my control. But my problem here is my own self judgment towards my directness.

I asked my wise friend if I ought to change myself, and she lovingly replied, “Just be yourself.” And I found that profound. Not because I can now confirm that I am really direct and straightforward in my expressions, and that it gives me more so a reason to be; but more so to flow with what is honest and truthful within my space. She expressed further that being my friend has a sense of freedom for she need not guess whether I liked certain things or not and she need not worry whether or not I would lie to her about what I think or feel as she knows almost 100% of the time that I would be honest with my feedbacks, without trying to sugarcoat anything. What is the point? I only cause myself sufferings when I am not honest with myself and by that, I cause other people unnecessary worry and guilt too.

And another wonderment I picked from this whole situation is that if not for my earlier spiritual friend’s honesty that he was constantly dealing with my harshness, I wouldn’t have known! Although some others have spoken to me of such sort, but it laid no impact since we did not share a very intimate or close relationship. But by virtue that this spiritual friend is indeed a dear friend close to my heart, I would tend to take his comments more seriously! So thank God for his honesty, if not I wouldn’t have known! And such is the beauty of honesty and being direct!

Have you ever been in an experience where you are waiting for an answer or an outcome to a certain situation? And as much as you wanted the situation to turn out the way you wanted, but when the answer comes – whether or not it fits the bill to what you had wished for – it normally comes with a sense of peace. It is the surety, the comfort of no-more guessing. Having said that of course, I have been told by one of my teachers to love my uncertainties… but somehow that ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ brings a conclusion to the mind so per se and whatever that arises from that situation be it happiness, jealousy, boredom, sadness can be dealt with more openly. Well, at least that is in my case. And this case, what I mean to say is that when we are hovering over whether to be truthful or not to ourselves and others, or waiting for others’ answers, it is mind-boggling! Take a wedding invitation for example. When a wedding couple gets married, they experience anxiety waiting for replies while on the other hand, some guests are unsure if they should say yes or no because they don’t really want to attend the reception, but yet feel obligated to do! If we are constantly and truly honest with ourselves, wherein lies the dilemma? And even if the couple feels disappointed when you say ‘no’, it would post much ease to their planning and trust me, they will get over it! If you are already feeling obligated to attend the reception, this only represents that the couple probably also invited you out of obligation! Having said that, of course, no judgment or guessing is required. What is asked is only a constant moment of honesty with ourselves. There is really no one out there.

I cannot depict what runs in others’ mind for not only is it none of my business, it is beyond my control. But what I can do is at least represent myself truthfully, honestly and clearly from my space as best as I can so that I could answer to myself genuinely without hiding from others, and more so importantly from myself. I’d like to leave a conversation, or a situation knowing that I have fully expressed what I have to say from my heart and not say what I have been guided not to say. I only have to trust myself; after all what I experience or choose to act has never been answerable to anyone (although many would like it that way), but to my very own self.

4 Responses to “Being Direct”

  1. My teacher used to remind me that if I am not at peace with myself, stop and do nothing. Years later I found his wisdom has an impact on how I watch my mind. And he also reminded me that what we do is not as important as what attitude we have during our doing as that is where our defilements are.

    Being direct is not the matter. What lies behind it is. The form is not as important as the essence that produce it. Similarly “just be yourself” can be disastrous too when I don’t inquire my motivation for I will keep missing the mark, making my old defiled conditioning intact.

    Seeking opinions from close ones does not help either as no one can tell where my attitude is coming from as it is not something that can be easily seen by myself, what more anyone. Further more their superficial answers will have an impact on my righteousness, further deepening it. Unless my seeking for opinion is met with an invitation for self-inquiry rather than simply an answer that repels or enforce my ideas, I will not learn anything from it. In short, a good spiritual friend, or even a teacher, don’t give answers but ways to invite me to self-inquire.

    The journey is not about changing one’s one character, or trying to be better by doing otherwise, but rather by recognition and self-realisation, and in that, change takes its own way, naturally.

    Hence our experience is our doorway to inquire, be it a statement that is loving, or a statement that provoke us to seek for opinions from others. – both may be lies as it does not addresses our inner reality of respond. Whatever it is, we have to come back to ourselves. Let our experience then be contained in the here and now, so that it does not taint us from what is true for our undoing of the ego.

    That is what makes wisdom unique and different from knowledge.

    • GG says:

      Yes that is very true. It is indeed not about being direct, but being honest; and not with others too, but with ourselves – and such result or attitude is a manifestation of the initial intention behind each action.

      What we would like others do to us, we do onto others; similarly what we don’t like others do onto us, we naturally don’t do onto others. But who is to know what lies behind a word or an action except our very selves? And how would we know if what is behind the word or action is exactly what we think it is lest we have understood ourselves. And if there is a part of me which I have yet to explore, and already explored by another; how would I know if what I have understood is exactly what the other is implying?

      Recognizing this, is freedom. Self-inquiry is one thing. Seeking approval is another. It is common to toggle between one and another when we seek opinions from others. And it takes a person who is willing to be honest with oneself, to look for a friend or a person who would tell him or her things honestly without the fear of being judged. It is not a surprise that the mind already has categories of ‘friends’ – to look for whom for support, to look for whom to be rescued, to look for whom to receive honesty.

      And so, may we always be surrounded by honest company, merely a reflection of our own inner state of honesty with ourselves.

  2. Hor Tuck Loon says:

    Haha! being honest, again is not the key. what motivates me to be honest is the issue. I can be honest with my words, but it may be tainted with defilements. As my teacher puts it aptly, ignorant is honest – saying things it thinks is right, wisdom is honest too – saying things from self realization and understanding. Who knows? Only me. Even then, only when I am wise.

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