Consistency Versus Truth




Ghandi was reputed to have said "my commitment is to truth, not to consistency." Just as there was greatness in Ghandi, there is greatness in us all, and perhaps Ghandi's statement reveals a clue about how to actualize it.

I have noticed that I sometimes withhold from giving 100% effort to making things happen because of trying to be consistent with my past. I do this by comparing present goals with my past accomplishments, my known skills and talents, or what I believe others expect of me who know my history. When my goals are not consistent with this past identity, I question whether they are best suited to me now. So I hesitate to put full effort into them, unsure if they will really make me happy. Actualization of what might be my present truth becomes sacrificied to consistency with the past, and a stagnation often results.

Old beliefs exemplify a classic way many people live by consistency versus truth. For example, most of us are socialized into the belief that having a lot of money brings happiness. We spend an enormous amount of our time, energy, and life pursuing more money. Yet often as we grow more mature we realize that it is how we spend our time, how we live moment by moment that truly determines how happy we are. If we don't honor this truth, we may blindly perpetuate actions (or careers!) consistent with earlier beliefs, like "money will make me happy," that don't help us to discover and actualize what actually does make us happy.

Beliefs about self worth are similarly related. I was recently reminded of an incident from years back where I messed up and someone else suffered. Interestingly, I had completely forgotten the incident, at the time having apologized and made the amends I could think of to prevent future such occurrences, so that upon being reminded of the person's name I did not recall the incident. The person who suffered still associated it with me, however, and portrayed "me" consistently with this past to a third acquaintance I had recently met. I felt as if I had been pidgeonholed to a previous me that is not a truthful version of the current me, while my new acquaintance's experience of who I am now seemed likely to have been distorted. Such is the result of holding unforgiveness of others, re-projecting their past upon them. We distance ourselves from who exists now. In fact, being truthful rather than consistent can be considered one way to practice and extend forgiveness, to self and others, as well as to continue actualizing our always-unfolding potentials and supporting others in doing same.

It takes courage to be truthful versus consistent, because of the consensual orientation that in order to maintain identity, a person must be consistent with their past. This may be taking us away from our true being now, however, as well as the impulses that can guide us toward growthful and mature becoming, and the deep truth lying in our hearts that reveals our creativity and love in ways not limited to identity. Thought about in this way, which would you choose, when they would be different--truth, or consistency? The degree to which you experience and continue to actualize your own greatness may depend on it!
© 1996
 Mark Shafer  


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