Why Living Truthfully Matters

Living Truthfully picture
There’s an ancient story where a layperson approached the Buddha and asked him about the greatest joys of living in the world.

When monks or serious meditators asked him this question, he would reply by talking about the fruits of meditation; mostly, inner freedom.

However, this was an everyday person, and so the Buddha told him the top four types of joy for a person who lives in the world.

The first three came down to outer freedom: having wealth, using wealth and being debtless.  These allow us to do what we want, when we want—whether that’s eating a mango, watching a movie or writing poems in a redwood grove.

Interestingly, he said those three outer-freedom joys give us less than 1/16th of 1/16th of the joy of the final one: living truthfully.    *(see nerd note at bottom of post)*

I relay this story by the Buddha because it resonates with my own personal experience.

I’ve long been a seeker and have tried many things in pursuit of happiness, such as:

  • Doing what other people want me to do
  • Outright hedonism
  • Intellectual studies
  • Worldwide travels
  • Romantic partnership
  • Becoming a Buddhist monk
  • Doing lots of yoga & meditation
  • Living on a farm
  • Social activism
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Healthy living

Some of these undertakings have actually been really great, and I wholeheartedly recommend them.  However, none of them quite hit the nail on the head.

The main lesson all that searching has taught me is that the deepest well-being doesn’t come from any “pursuit”—rather, it comes when I let go of fear, listen to my heart and dare to live truthfully.

Curiously, following my truth has led me deeper into relationship, increased my self-kindness, motivated me to start teaching and grounded me more holistically in my spiritual practices—all of which have exponentially contributed to my joy, fulfillment, happiness and deep human well-being.

How is this possible?

Living truthfully is not some surface level authenticity where we just do whatever we want—instead, it involves a deep dive inwards, where we become intimate with the entirety of our being.  This naturally blossoms into a wonderfully engaged and joyful life.

The great vision for my own life is to continue to live from a place of truth, diving inwards more deeply and branching out more expansively.  Helping you do the same is the vision of this blog, as well as my work as a coach and meditation teacher.

If the Buddha’s anecdote, my testimonial or your own personal experience haven’t already convinced you of the supreme importance of living truthfully, then try this thought experiment:

Imagine you spent the rest of your life struggling to change your bad habits, leave superficial jobs, get out of destructive relationships or pursue anything meaningful.  Imagine this struggle had you living in some degree of constant tension and anxiety; or inversely, feeling somewhat apathetic and indifferent towards life.

Now imagine there was a thing called truthful living, accessible to you right now, that could help you get some traction out of that struggle and into a deep sense of well-being.

It sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it?


*Nerd note: I have translated the Pali word, anavajja, as “living truthfully.”  The standard translation uses an inverse term—blamelessness, faultless living or irreproachableness.  It says what you “aren’t” doing.  A different way to translate it is to be more direct, and say what you “are” doing—sometimes stated as living purely, or as I put, “living truthfully.”  Here’s a link to a standard translation of the entire story.

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