Leave Your Duplicity at the Cash Register
A short time ago while walking I found a badly wounded heron bird. Realizing I was right by a nature and wildlife preserve center I hurriedly and gently grabbed the bird in my sweater and headed towards the building. As I approached I thought, “Ah, how perfect, this center is actively protecting the wildlife every day. They will definitely want to help.”
I rushed through the front door and was met with an older woman dressed in her uniform sitting behind a desk. She looked begrudgingly at the heron and sat impatiently through my story of how I came to find the bird. After I finished, she imperiously looked away and back again and replied rather colorlessly, “Sorry, but we don’t deal with that here.” I was then shooed out the front and told to “google” another solution.
Did You Find Everything All Right?
It seems to be a common trend in society for persons to take on various external duties, but when a situation arises that requires a genuine call-of-action; one may not have the inner conviction to sincerely follow through.
Have you ever gotten to the checkout stand at a store and been given the routine question, “Hi, did you find everything all right?” When really the cashier is thinking: when will my shift be over and I can go home?! If you answer anything other than a compliant “Yes,” you will get a bewildered look and a reluctant answer.
Also, maybe it’s just a southern California thing, but how many times have you ran into someone you knew and in a disoriented manner, greeted and exchanged phrases such as, “dude, we should totally hang out,” “yeah, totally, let’s do it!” “I’ll have to call ya,” “For sure, can’t wait!” And nothing ever manifests from that exchange. We may feign, “Oh I miss you!” but never make any attempt to contact the “missed” person. Youth culture today is definitely saturated with such aforesaid flakiness and superficiality. Do we really mean what we say? Actions speak louder than words.
These are a few small scale examples, but if you open up any newspaper you will find countless large scale versions of the same principle. We are living in a duplicitous world of hypocrisy, where what we say fails to align with our inner world and external actions.
Old Habits Die Hard
As I reflect deeper, I have to ask: what is hypocrisy and am I guilty of it?
The definition according to google dictionary is: “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” In modern language we can say, one who does not “walk their talk.”
This tendency to have a certain belief structure, while doing something which opposes that belief structure also comes up in one’s spiritual quest. As a sincere spiritual seeker there are constant challenges to face. When we are confronted with certain spiritual truths or principles which necessitate giving up certain activities or taking on new ones, are we ready to align ourselves?
In order to accomplish such a task, dedication to truth over relative comfort and gratification is compulsory. It is not enough to merely say or “believe” in something without acting on it. If you put on the dress of a police officer; yet don’t protect and serve the citizens, but instead cause them harm, then what good are you doing for yourself and for others? Such duplicity only produces confusion and distress. On the contrary, building our character and spiritual integrity actually offers the greatest benefit to all.
It may seem like a daunting task – as it is said, “old habits die hard.” But actually, great pleasure can be found in aligning with higher spiritual principles. In fact, great yogis and aspiring spiritualists accept such challenges with great ecstasy.
The Bhagavad Gita gives a beautiful gem of wisdom in this regard. There are two different types of pleasure. One is like poison in the beginning but like nectar at the end. And one is like nectar in the beginning but ends up just like poison.
The latter is happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects. In other words, eating three bowls of ice cream is pleasurable in the beginning, but in the end you feel horrible! Contrast that to the former, which is a type of happiness that comes from the process of self-realization and character development. For example, say you are beginning the path to living a pure life, but you’re addicted to cigarettes. To give that up in order to continue on the path of purity can be extremely difficult and feel awful. But once you rid yourself from that habit, much joy and benefit is reaped.
The Invisible Anchor
Once you can distinguish between these two different types of pleasure then you must be honest with yourself. What kind of pleasure are you looking for in life? That which inevitably depletes you or that which gives renewed strength and inner satisfaction? Then when you are honest, you can begin to gauge whether your actions are actually representing the convictions you claim. Otherwise it’s like having a boat with the anchor down below while trying to paddle forward. It just doesn’t work; you will never get anywhere like that! We shouldn’t adapt our spiritual path to our level of comfort; rather, we should adjust ourselves so as to become spiritually fit to paddle forth.
To embark on the spiritual quest means to pull up this anchor of hypocrisy and accept personal change in order to reach your desired destination.