Friday, June 6, 2014

The Practice of Authenticity

"On a Clear Day"
-along a wilderness trail-

The media have been deluged with stories about the young American prisoner of war who was recently exchanged for five Taliban soldiers. There are so many stories about this event that I find myself paying less and less attention to it. Yesterday, however, one particular news report made me stop and take notice. 

I found it disturbing and also mildly entertaining to see how politicians of every stripe have been chaotically "flip-flopping" over whether or not they support this exchange of prisoners and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's return to his home and family.  The news story yesterday included clips of TV interviews and social media "tweets" from a wide spectrum of politicians exposing how their positions kept on changing - sometimes within a few hours of original statements. 

At first there was support for the exchange. Then a few hours later the same persons expressed anger at the president for not informing them of the exchange. Then the next day, for some of them, it's back to support again.  I found it particularly entertaining to see how some of the members of congress actually removed their "tweets" from the day before because they conflicted with their "opinion du jour."

It all made me wonder if we ever really get the "straight story" from any of these guys in Washington who seem to hold up a thumb, see which way the wind is blowing and then offer an opinion based on public sentiment- say anything to get the vote or keep the vote, so many different faces all tailored and designed to achieve the maximum benefit. 

The more I think about it, I guess that this "many different faces" phenomenon is not particularly unique to politicians in Washington, but a flaw running throughout the fabric of contemporary culture.   Lots of people today (maybe more than I'd care to imagine) put on many different faces in order to get "maximum" benefits out of life - many people live their life so that other people will like them or support them- get their vote, keep their vote.

I think however that this flaw in contemporary culture may even go deeper than duplicity. I actually wonder if people are hiding who they really are and what they really think, or if people just don't know who they really are and what they really think, or feel, or believe. 

I wonder sometimes if people today are so used to putting on so many masks every day that they never actually get to the point of being in touch with what is beneath the plastic image?  I wonder if the "many different  faces" phenomenon keeps people at the surface of life and prevents them from going deeper - finding their true passions in life, their real beliefs, their authentic feelings?

I actually don't often hear people use the word "authenticity" much nowadays, maybe that's because authenticity is so hard to come by. An authentic person "knows himself" and is "true to herself." An authentic person isn't constantly sending out different "tweets" in life depending on what way the wind blows. 

As I see it, it is virtually impossible to walk a spiritual path without being "authentic" because being in touch with one''s spirituality always involves genuine, true and real relationship with others. It is impossible to be in a real and genuine relationship if you only present a tailored image of yourself.  It is impossible to be in a genuine relationship with someone else's false ego "image." 

So, that's why I think that the "practice of authenticity" is indeed a spiritual discipline just like prayer or meditation is a spiritual discipline, and in my meditation time today I am asking those deeper questions- What is it that I really believe in?  Where are my true passions in life? What are my genuine feelings? 

On my spiritual path, I am working at becoming a "what you see is what you get" kind of person. 

Know yourself
Be true to yourself

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