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Excerpted from Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment by Lama Surya Das. Copyright© 1998 by Lama Surya Das. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Don't you sometimes use words to distance others and protect your true feelings? Haven't you ever told people that you were feeling "fine" even when you were depressed and sad?"

Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within
Part 3

Words articulated without guile, masked ego needs, conflict, or hidden agendas--wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to speak with such clarity and simplicity, all the time? Haven't there been times in your life when you are so centered and clear that your words, like the Buddha's, ring with truth and sanity? Don't we all sometimes have these breakthrough moments, times when we are in touch with who we are and what we know? These are precious moments, minutes, or hours when each of us is able to speak his or her own truth, honestly and fearlessly. But these breakthroughs are difficult to sustain.

As a seeker, you have probably already wrestled with the problems connected to outright lying; in all likelihood, you've made an appropriate decision not to be evasive or indulge in direct falsehoods or deceitful, manipulative statements. We all agree that outright lying is counterproductive. But as we walk further along the spiritual path, chances are we will each arrive at checkpoints where the subtleties of truth come into play. We may discover time after time that it's difficult to be clear and forthright in everything we say, and we may find ourselves compromising and shading the truth. Instead of saying what we know is true, for example, we say things that others want to hear. Or we say things that we want to hear--and believe.

When we don't want to appear weak or vulnerable, we say things that make us look strong and powerful. When we don't want others to think we are out of control, we use words to control what others do. It's very easy to spot the manipulations of the spin doctors from Madison Avenue or Washington, D.C.; it's more complex when we create our own egotistical advertising campaigns. Yet this is what we do all the time by presenting ourselves as we would like to appear and hiding behind the stories we tell ourselves and others to get what we think we want. All this only serves to create false personas that leave us feeling incomplete and alienated from our authentic selves.

Don't you sometimes use words to distance others and protect your true feelings? Haven't you ever told people that you were feeling "fine" even when you were depressed and sad? We don't always use words to communicate from our hearts and then we expect others to be mind readers. Sometimes we even tell ourselves stories. "I don't eat so many sweets," we say to ourselves as we reach again into the bag of cookies. "I'm not really lying to Miranda," we think as we make up a plausible excuse to break an appointment. "It doesn't really matter," we reassure ourselves, even when we know it matters a great deal.

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