last night i began reading The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, a collection of poems by the mountain hermit Hansan and was struck by these words in the introduction -
Many Chjinese regard him as a sheng-jen - a sage. Probably he was, but sages are human and thus liable to err. With momentary dissapointment I detected in many of his poems suggestions of un-sage like bitterness. [...]Occasionally he hints at some grave injustice done to him in the past[...]As to beautiful women, he sometimes speaks of them with a bitterness that ill accords Buddhist compassion[...]But his frankness about his own weaknesses points to a virtue highly prized by Buddhists, that of total indifference to praise and blame; it also points towards him having achieved a state at which all serious Taoists aim, that of tzu-jan - complete spontaneity. I confess I was wrong to be dissapointed when first I came upon certain revelations due to Cold Mountain's ingenuous frankness. He was a flesh-and-blood sage, not a bronze or porcelain image
- John Blofeld, Introduction, p.24
which in turn led me back reflect on these words from Ven. Pabhakaro i recently came across -
Honesty to me seems to be one of the most beneficial things that we as human beings can develop. It is one
of the Buddhist perfections - sacca parami - truthfulness or honesty. Whether we consider ourselves spiritual or religious or not, if we aren't honest with ourselves then there is a deception that we pass on to others. It may be very subtle, but if we decieve ourselves how can we not decieve others?
- Seeing the Way: Buddhist Reflections on the Spiritual Life, Chapter 5, p.48
i would like to ask then, how important is honesty to you in your practice? what does honesty mean to you? what difficulties, progress and inspiration have you found as regards honesty with yourself and in your encounters with others? thoughts and comments welcome