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by Sally Kempton

Twenty-five years ago, inspired by Gandhi's autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, I decided to practice absolute truthfulness for one week. I lasted less than two days. On the third day, a man I was trying to impress asked me if I'd read Thoreau, and I heard myself saying, “Yes,” despite the fact that I hadn't. A few minutes later, I forced myself to confess the lie. Truth is, that wasn't so hard. What turned out to be harder was looking at why I'd lied. It was deeply humiliating to my ego to recognize that I had such an attachment to looking smart that I couldn't admit not having read the book. And once I'd started looking into the motive for that lie,  it started a whole process of inquiry that actually hasn't stopped since.


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5 Responses to “Meditation for Life: Is It True? Is It Really True? by Sally Kempton”

  1. Jackie Bergman

    Fear and love give untruth and truth

    Thank you Sally for great descriptions of the whole map! There is a kind of inner compass to it as well, one can call it fear and love. It also connects perfectly to Wilbers AQAL.

    Fear that is present in the individual (upper left) is related to separation between individuals in the collective (lower left) as well as to untruth when we describe the outer aspects of reality as represented by the objective realm (upper and lower right).

    As we succeed to trust love as individuals (subjective), we generate a collective affinity (intersubjective) and truth (objective and interobjective).

    This notion has supported me in becoming very productive as an environmentally driven project manager in the energy utility industry for three decades. I have been able to watch myself from the outside and conclude wheather I am cowardize (fear bigger than love) or courageous (love bigger than fear). I can also get an idea about what is happening in others.

    If you can identifye one of the six parameters as present in the moment, the other two of that specific triad will also be present. If one parameter is absent, the other two of that triad are also absent.

    Further, motivation to act comes from emotions only. Thoughts are all neutral, but do evoke associations to emotions from earlier experiences. It is actually possible to describe every affect, emotion and feeling as fear or love. So, by reflecting on either the subjective, intersubjective realms, it is actually easy to find out what in which direction one is heading.

    If you are interested, I will be very happy to send you a paper on how motivation can be seen and understood. I have also written a book (Fear or Love? You choose!) that is available in German, Bulgarian and Swedish.

    Jackie Bergman

  2. Pierre

    Sally, I want to thank you for triggering a mini-awakening in me. Your blog is bitter medicine delivered in such a gentle and caring way that it is willingly swallowed. Your words pointed to my own habits of exaggeration and slippery lies. I’m both excited and apprehensive to try the one week of truthfulness, which starts today.



  3. Kriste B

    Inspired by your decision, Pierre, I will join you in your commitment, also starting today.

    Sally, your beautiful post is very thorough in exposing many faces of what a lie can be, and great to discern nuances of when speaking what one feels is the “truth” is appropriate or not. As individual truths at a given time can be based on misinformation or subconscious belief patterns which no longer serve us especially when clouded by emotion, a subsequent practice after addressing “not lying” could be to continually refine and redefine what “truth” is. If considering a collective mind approach to our thoughts and ideas, embracing that a single opinion is always a part of a greater Truth, and for the individual, is merely a manifestation of another rung on the evolutionary ladder that should open more possibilities for both the self and the world than solve a single, immediate issue.

  4. :)

    I think that either there is something specific that I’m not willing to look into yet, or maybe that I have denied, or that I just don’t understand something about how complex things seem like they don’t always or even usually need to be.

    Thanks for this, Sally.

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