Fragments on Truth

Written by Gary Dillon

There are many starting points that could be chosen to enter the traditional Hawaiian world of wisdom–governed as always by the sovereign Aloha spirit. I have chosen to begin with a look into the word-concept “oiaio”–the Hawaiian word for truth.

To begin with, notice that this word–oiaio–has no consonants in it at all. The speaker of this word must vocally change direction five times in a smooth, yet precise rhythm. To the western mind this lack of consonants must appear fortuitous at best. And yet, when it comes to “truth” above all it is to the sound of truth as it is being spoken that we can and must attend first. In the west there is a preference for abstraction and the impersonal in formulating “truth.” By tacitly agreeing to overlook the body of the speaker, from whose breath the sound of “oiaio” is organically directed, we already leave ourselves plenty of room to evade or obfuscate truth, i.e., for untruth to live without being discomfitted by explicit notice.

By the sound of truth, I am deliberately placing emphasis on the personal, embodied presence of a communicator, or rather of two partners in dialogue–one who speaks and one who listens. The sound of the word “truth” has become, in a sense, the protocol that allows the mind to discern whether what follows is truthful. Just as in the old days in Europe there was the placing of a hand over the genital (“testes,” “testify”). That was the universally recognized protocol of truth—at least for those inhabiting a male body. “Protocol,” as I use it here, means simply some bodily action that must take place before something else of ultimate importance can be accomplished. In this case, the “something else” is confidence that a truth is being spoken in what follows as a whole.

There is something in the word oiaio which puts attention upon nothing less than the vocal quality of enunciation–where it comes from in the body, with what level of smoothness, certainty, comfort, and breath it is given. Does the body speak this truth as well as the mind? This is the criterion that we all have built into our bones and blood. Ignore the words, the syntax, the opinions, the message itself, and listen to the excitement or the tension in the body of the speaker, to the feeling of the blood and breath flowing in his or her words, to the life that they bear in and through the sound of the voice that speaks.

In simplified terms, it is the vowels that give us the feeling or sense of value and significance that is in a word that is spoken. It is the consonants that give it definition, pin it down into discrete assertions relevant for a specific time and place. Oiaio has no consonants. To speak this word properly, to intend what this word says with all of one’s being, it must flow through the breath without interruption–it cannot be spoken in bad faith, it cannot be said at all without showing what is truly felt and sensed as belonging unequivocally to Now. It cannot have any other significance than what it is at this moment as a fully elaborated spending of the life force or energy into a communal act of truth. Nor is truth as intended by this word a matter of propositions and abstract logic.

That this is the Hawaiian view, or perspective, on “truth” is made more clear by considering the traditional understandings of the relationship between thinking, speaking and breath. It is said that ho’ohanu, the in-breath, is essentially related to thought in the specific function or act of “resolving,” or “resolution.” Whereas Ha, the exhalation, is essentially related to taking action, that is, to action and expression in the direction of “solving” or “solution.” Since Olelo, or speech, is a function of energized breath (breath that is energized on its outgoing wave by the more powerful vibrations of the vocal chords), the verbalization of thoughts is the first link in the chain of physical manifestation of thought within reality. Here reality itself is a flux of vibrations and waves which are impregnated with Intent. Therefore it is said Aia ke ola i ka waha, aia ka make i ka waha–”life is in the mouth, death is in the mouth.” There is at all times an ‘olelo no ke ola–the language of life, and there is an ‘olelo no ka maka–a language of judgments, criticism, gossip, polemic, as well as “shoulds and oughts” which is the language of death. E malama mana’o, E malama ‘olelo–”attend carefully to what you think, attend carefully to what you say, for life and death are in the balance.” Pay attention! Be awake, be conscious, be riding the breath-wave that is washing forward from darkness to light.

The very word for “consciousness” itself, which envisions human consciousness in it’s highest sense as a spiritual trajectory of awareness into and through the realm of light, is ho’omaopopo. Ho’omaopopo contains within it two words paired together: omao, which means the green color of new growth in plants. It is the chlorophylic translation of the energy of sunlight into food for life. And secondly popo, which means the rot and decay of that which has been but no longer is living. Consciousness itself exists on the far side of the dualism of omao and popo and at the same time it resolves itself existentially through awareness of the vulnerability of this dimension to distortions of thought and speech/breath. In pragmatic ways it exists as awareness of the power of truth-telling and pa’a, or resolution, for the growth of consciousness. Consciousness grows. It grows beginning from the place of naive acceptance of the seeming separateness of entities and the restriction of mind within local disputes and calculated, completely personal cleverness. This everyday, contracted realm of thinking is one dominated by the idea of being in possession of correct propositions about self and others–in other words, of truth as “being right.” “Being right” is far from the sort of self-alignment that founds a human life in transcendent dignity. The best of life only begins with the surrender of past grievances and special pleading. Consciousness grows by overcoming amnesia about its highest potential. In the vigor of such growth alone it promises to become a new natural power. It may then attain it’s true breadth as a sacred dimension of the natural order which is capable of expanding the grace and freedom of human life. It is even capable of redirecting the “time waves” of influences reaching us from the past, from the ancestral realm, in ways that produce healing and harmony in the past as well as the present and the future.

Against this background I’d like to briefly address the body as a “truth-teller,” particularly in matters having to do with the bodily energy of sexuality and orgasmic consciousness. By phrasing things in this way I am introducing the all-important presence of body-mind-spirit into consideration–”orgasm of the body, orgasm of the mind, orgasm of the spirit”–each of these waves or pulsations belong at the heart of the protocols of truthful speech about sex, about anything at all that exists in real time, real space. Oiaio–truth–is something akin to “orgasm of the spirit,” for if it is truth, the truth that energizes life and establishes a pathway to the One, then it is among the most pleasurable experiences, ultimately–and that pleasure is also a source of it’s resolution, or it’s bracing, tonic effect on life. Stay with it, and everything resolves; move away from it, and everything gets more complex and uncertain.

In order to grasp sex as a metaphor of truth I have become disengaged by necessity from the culture’s central moral concern with “correct” erotic behavior, which comes down to a domination of the body and a silencing of the mind and the spirit as stake-holders in the erotic life of human beings. Sexuality is a basic constituent of life and forms the core of the joy of existence which in turn is the sole support of love as a fundamental option of intelligent, conscious human living. The argument against free sexuality which began with our ancestors (speaking personally to those of us whose ancestors brought forth the sweep and the contradictions of western culture) in the distant past has become a war upon current embodiment, sensation, and the straightforward, uncomplicated ability to communicate in truthfulness. A truce must be declared in this war, here and now. The ancestors must be healed of their division so that they can be released and we ourselves can bequeath a new equilibrium to those who come after us.

To communicate in truthfulness implies full disclosure as well as the ability to immediately and without distortion perceive the reality of body, mind, and spirit. Whether these three centers of being are currently congruent and aligned, or not, we can and must open to the reality of what is and speak into, through and from what is known to be so. This perception is necessarily an accompaniment to the sense or feeling of truthfulness. For this reason alone, once sexuality has been set aside as a diversion and unnecessary source of lying to oneself and to others, there arises an existential concern for “truth-telling” and the fate of erotic truth in particular. Other motivations for distortion and complicating tension in the body follow a similar pattern.

Philosophically speaking–if such a thing is necessary–the anxiety about “What is truth?” has to give way to the problem of truthful personal communication; that is to say, the capacity to love what is and to give faithful witness to what actually is without any immediate compulsion to change or alter anything. And especially without the compulsion of taking action to capitalize upon or otherwise “turn to profit” what is known to be true and certain in the personal sense of the alignment of body, mind, and spirit. Both the exploitation of personal truth and the veiling of personal truth in order to take advantage, manipulate, control, and defend ideal images, is the actual source of human misery and a far more persistent threat to human happiness than is the recognition that sexuality is free. For the foreseeable future there will remain strong cultural and social incentives (based usually on fear) to lie to oneself, first of all.

“Truth-telling,”–if it is to come to pass–is an undertaking that enjoins paying attention to two very different processes. One process being that of finding the wit, the graciousness, and the daring actually to “will the truth” by disclosing it without blame or judgment. The other process is one that is at once a psychological, spiritual, and physical challenge. It is the process of discovering a yoga, a practice, a procedure, for overcoming the effect of history and culture. We must give up concepts and concerns about what culture is and take back our ancestors and our historic past as a personal, familial matter. An example of such a yoga is the Communication Model as taught and practiced at the Haven Institute. There are many other, similar practices out there in the family and lineage of this Model which are also to be commended.

The way it stands with me is that I am constantly amazed at the forms taken by my own “split” and my own uncertainty about personal courage when it comes to the disclosure of truth in exactly this sense. This tells me that the thirst for “truth” is just as much a search for healing and wholeness, since it hasn’t turned out to be possible for me to reveal the truth about myself if I can’t or won’t allow myself to perceive inner reality as it is–body, mind and spirit. And then it also turns out that even when all that is said and done there is still a “context of truth” which must be understood and for which a maturely evolved person must take responsibility.

In brief, the “context of truth” is nothing less than my complete wholeness as body, mind and spirit, combined with the complete wholeness of the other who stands before me. Without opening to the whole, which is to say the inclusion and integration of all that I am as knowledge, understanding and action, there is no way that that “the truth” can be disclosed in any direct communication. No amount of good will can disclose a truth that is unknown, unconscious or half-consciously held, rejected, or compared to an ideal by me. Neither can I call out for the same from you if I do not manifest a sincere, unsentimental care for the same honesty in you with all of it’s consequences–for me and for you.

John showed me how “core-splitting” honesty could cut through all illusion and bring us home to what we know is absolutely true.


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