To A Lay Disciple On What It Means To Be Truthful And Honest

To a lay disciple contrasting what it means to be truthful in his culture. Highlights habits of Western culture.

“…You have to remember that our Eastern ideas about ‘motives’ and ‘truthfulness’ and ‘honesty’ differ considerably from your ideas in the West. Both we believe that it is moral to tell the truth and immoral to lie; but here every analogy stops and our notions diverge in a very remarkable degree. For instance it would be a most difficult thing for you to tell me, how it is that your civilized Western Society, Church and State, politics and commerce have ever come to assume a virtue that it is quite impossible for either a man of education, a statesman, a trader, or anyone else living in the world – to practice in an unrestricted sense? Can any one of the above mentioned classes – the flower of England’s chivalry, her proudest peers and most distinguished commoners, her most virtuous and truth speaking ladies – can any of them speak the truth, I ask, whether at home, or in Society, during their public functions or in the family circle? What would you think of a gentleman, or a lady, whose affable politeness of manner and suavity of language would cover no falsehood; who, in meeting you would tell you plainly and abruptly what he thinks of you, or of anyone else? And where can you find that pearl of honest tradesmen or that god-fearing patriot, or politician, or a simple casual visitor of yours, but conceals his thoughts the whole while, and is obliged under the penalty of being regarded as a brute, a madman – to lie deliberately, and with a bold face, no sooner he is forced to tell you what he thinks of you; unless for a wonder his real feelings demand no concealment? All is lie, all falsehood, around and in us, my brother; and that is why you seemed so surprised, if not affected, whenever you find a person, who will tell you bluntly truth to your face; and also why it seems impossible for you to realize that a man may have no ill feelings against you, nay even like and respect you for some things, and yet tell you to your face what he honestly and sincerely thinks of you.” (The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter no. 30., 1992 ed., Transcribed by A. T. Barker, facsimile edition, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, California, Letter XXX, pg. 232.)

You really have to think, has anything changed in near two centuries? This became what many lament today in Europe and America, as the limitations or extremities of “political correctness.” Many today, see the reactionaries against these extremities as the nativists, xenophobes, bigots, etc., which has only proved the argument here. These modern accusers often see themselves as ultimately altruistic, and tout about their tolerance. “All is lie, all falsehood, around and in us, my brother…”

Is It Better to Be Polite or Frank?

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