A former student once described me as a “buddha with a shotgun.”
“You enlighten us…at gunpoint,” she explained.
I couldn’t help but laugh at her description. She’s always had a way with words.
“Seriously,” she said, “you make us see things in new ways. You rip off our blinders, you tell us like it is, you make us face things about ourselves and life that we would never consider. I sit in class and wonder what bullets of truth you’re gonna shoot our way. It’s scary at times, but I love it.”
That was probably the best compliment, or criticism, I’ve ever received from a student. The image of a gun-toting buddha, though, seemed paradoxical. The more I thought about that image, the more I thought about truth and how it comes to us.
Sometimes truth comes gently to us, on the soft sound of sandaled feet, at which we sit and listen and learn.
And sometimes it comes like a shot…BOOM…jolting us from our stagnation into a new state of awareness.
We are either ready for it, or we are not.
No matter how truth comes, once it is revealed to us, then we are left with the question of what to do with it.
Some people will integrate the truths they learn into their lives to live more fully and authentically, while others will simply shrug their shoulders or walk away in denial.
Some may even use the truth to hurt others; they may use it to justify their need to gossip or talk negatively about others, twisting truth for their own selfish gain.
And others may not know what to do with truth; they may let it incubate for awhile until they figure out what to do. Some will go on to test the truth.
Sometimes truth is not always the truth. This doesn’t mean it’s a lie. It just means that what is true for one person may not be true for another. Discernment is key here.
Truth can be scary. It can be challenging. It can be downright painful at times. It takes courage to wake up to it. It means pulling our head out of the butt of our ego and doing something to help or better ourselves.
Whatever the case, no matter how truth comes to us, we must learn to respect it. We must take responsibility for it. We must learn from it, no matter how ugly it may appear. We must address it with care, with maturity, and with humility. Sometimes we will accept it; sometimes we will reject it. Sometimes we will learn from it; sometimes we will hide from it. Our state of readiness will determine how we’ll deal with it.
What are your thoughts about truth? How does truth come to you? How do you handle truth when it comes?
The biggest blur in life is the fact of our mortality. Death is one of those truths in life that strikes fear in many people. Looking death in the eye, or even thinking about it, is not easy for some, but it’s inevitable. We tend to think of death as some grand abstraction. The poem I want you to read brings it into a more concrete perspective.
Consider that every year, we celebrate the day of our birth. But have you considered that during this past year you have passed over the very day that will turn out to be the anniversary of your death? Think about that. Brings shudders, doesn’t it? What day comes to mind?
Read the poem “For the Anniversary of my Death” by W.S. Merwin (click here). Note your thoughts, feelings, and responses.
Sometimes it takes the realization of our mortality to wake us up into living a fuller life. What will it take for you to begin living a fuller life, and to being living your truth?