Watching Ourselves

Lying, exaggerating, smoking, cheating, late-night snacking… it’s funny how we’re able to do certain things while simultaneously convincing ourselves that we’re not doing them. It’s simple, Judge… we just tell ourselves we aren’t!

Did you ever notice it… there you are, hiding in the corner, doing something you know you shouldn’t. You might get caught (which is probably half the fun), and yet, just in case… you’ve got every excuse in the book lined up.

I notice myself doing this with cigarettes. I might ask for one at the end of the evening, but I quickly tell everyone within earshot that this isn’t me, it’s just a rare thing, etc. etc. I get to smoke, yet somehow get to maintain my innocence at the same time. But alas, the truth has a pesky way of sneaking out.

What usually happens is that a certain pressure builds up… and we start calling out others for that same behavior. Cheating spouses give themselves away by accusing their partners, liars accuse everyone else of lying, these days journalists who call out others for their “offensive tweets” often get fired later for the same offence. We tend to think that these hypocritical scenarios are rare, or ironic, but in fact… they’re normal.

We all do it. (All. Of. Us.) We earnestly proclaim our innocence ’til the bitter end… until either 1) we get caught, which brings a certain level of extra shame upon our heads, especially if we’ve vehemently judged others, or 2) we simply admit our behavior – the one we’re doing right in front of our own eyes! – to ourselves. It’s that simple.

Then the game is over. Half the juice was in fooling others… and by proxy, ourselves. How long can we go on, worried about whether others will discover our little secrets? We eventually do tire of covering our tracks over and over again, don’t we? And playing the victim. And judging others. All this confusion arrives together… it’s a package deal.

So… if we want to live in the Light, without secrets, without judgements… the answer is simple: we have to admit it to quit it. Otherwise, the show must go on.


This reminds me of an illustrative story: there was a disciple of the great Indian master Paramhansa Yogananda who used to smoke around the back of the building. He claimed it was to not bother anyone. Yogananda declared that it didn’t bother him, and that the man could smoke as much as he liked, as long as he did it within Yogananda’s sight. The man smoked in front of the master a few times, then quit on his own.

The message is clear: if you behave in a way that you don’t approve of… and you yourself begin consciously watching your actions … you will eventually stop. (The unconsciousness and the self-judgement are what kept the cycle going!)

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