Honesty is Still the Best Policy

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In my own quest for personal growth, I have come to realized a few simple things. While simple, they are extremely important in determining the success of my personal and spiritual growth. Simple they may be, but they are not easy.

The first thing I want to touch on is the importance of self examination. By this I mean the need to examine our behaviors, speech and thoughts. The goal of self examination is to understand ourselves. Specifically, it is to understand our unconscious motivations, desires and needs for these are what lead us to act, talk and think in a particular way.

The second thing I want to touch on is honesty. In fact, honesty is the key to self growth. Without rigorous honesty, even in the face of painful revelations and acknowledgments, it is difficult to really progress in personal and spiritual growth. Honesty, therefore, is still the best policy.

From a very young age, I grew up with this motto which I hold sacred in my heart. It is a quote from Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher emperor of ancient Rome. Allow me to share it with you:

"A man's true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self examination and a steady obedience to the rules which he knows to be right, without troubling himself about what others may think and say and do, and whether they do or do not do that which he thinks and says and does."

The rules he referred to in this quote are not man-made rules. They are the rules or laws of the universe. They are the natural laws. I have learned that when you have learned these immutable laws, understood them and live in accordance with them, your life will stand out in the crowd. It will be a life that is uniquely yours. To achieve this, you must be absolutely honest with yourself. You must find the courage to face your own shadows, and shine the light of wisdom and compassion to dissolve those shadows. Be kind and loving to yourself. You are worth it!

Contrary to what you may expect, your courage to face, acknowledge and accept your shadows does not batter your self worth and self esteem. In fact, it raises them. This is one of the paradoxes of life - do the things you fear and the death of fear is certain. You will find that you are a being worthy of the highest love, for that is what you are in essence.

The third thing required for self growth is therefore courage. That is why the spiritual path is often equated to the way of the warriors. It is not about the absence of fear. It is about overcoming the fear in you; not just the obviously glaring fears but also the most subtle fears that often mask themselves as something else - justifications and excuses.

When I was in my teens, a mentor offered me this advice: "Not knowing is ignorance. Knowing and not doing anything about it is a crime!" With that, he challenged me to examine myself, to reflect, to introspect and to discover who I really am. I am glad I had taken up his challenge. It has made all the difference in my life.

Dr. Tim Ong is a medical doctor who runs his own thriving medical practice. In his free time, he enjoys giving public talks, teaching meditation and offering his service to hospice work in the community. He also has keen interest in self improvement, mind science and spirituality. Dr. Ong is the webmaster of MindScience101.com and TheSelfImprovementSite.com.

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