by Susan Munro
Here at the centre we have a kind of ritual we perform weekly. On a Wednesday night, after we are fed and watered, practically everyone residing here moves themselves down the hill to the Forest Hall. Opening the creaking doors, we step into the cool, quiet, almost totally organic space, made of mud-brick and thatched with leaves, and form a circle. The atmosphere is calm and reflective. One of our number takes up position in front of the gold Buddha image opposite the door and proceeds to tell their story about what brought them here: tales most often filled with pain, escapism, realization, and finally, hope. Through sharing their personal history, the speaker is encouraged to find their own truth. It is the truth that packs them in here.
Listening to these tales, it strikes me how rare it is in the modern world. It was probably always so, yet today we have a new layer of difficulty to contend with – one dominated by technology. We are encouraged to put our best face forward with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Resumes must be uploaded and publicly accessible. To the connected generations, privacy is becoming a thing of the past – and with a strange irony, the true self becomes so much collateral damage.
This loss of self is hardly something new, of course. Life is nothing if not a succession of people handing you a selection of masks. The trick is to not lose yourself, and your own personal truth, in them. This can be difficult when the pressure of not only family, co-workers, classmates and friends is upon you, but, it seems, the whole of society.
We recognise that not everyone wants to pour out their heart to a group of people – this doesn’t preclude you from expressing your truth, however. One of the best ways to get comfortable with your true self is through journalling. Journal-writing Tips: Telling the Truth is an excellent article on the practice. Meditation is also a useful practice in which to discover and recover the authentic self, our ‘source’ according to this article by Deepak Chopra.
I’ll leave you with this quote, from the eternal Mahatma Gandhi,
‘Truth never damages a cause that is just.’