March 11, 2011
From “Now What? Seven Differences between Truth and Error”
Chapter 1: The Truth about one’s heart: the difference between deceitfulness and desires.
How do we know the difference between our deceitfulness and our desires? First of all, we must see for ourselves what is in our hearts. Without which, we would go on and on through endless persuasions of looking for our desires to be fulfilled in certain ways according to our timetable. However, after our search for “the truth for us”, we end up frustrated, tired, and sad about the reality of our lives. For example, in writing a book one has to come to terms with one’s thoughts and beliefs in order to write a sensible book about a topic that is within the confines of one’s heart. A person cannot write a book and then goes away from what was written and proclaim, “I have not written my book personally, someone did that for me!” So in the fullest sense, we produce what is in our hearts.
Now what happens when we begin to think according to the desires of our hearts? We tend to become really excited of what we really want to happen. Coffee after coffee will keep us awake just to get things going our way. Our way, we say, would always be “the best way.” Often times come to think of it, our way is not always the best way to do things. We are bombarded by information from the internet in how to be successful in life. We have to have this or you have to have that, because it is the “hottest/coolest thing” in town. For example, having an iPhone nowadays is the hottest/coolest thing because of the latest features of technology within the palm of your hands! We interchange terms, you’re so hot! Or you’re so cool!
It’s amazing how we just embrace trends and try to imitate the magazines’ pictures of perfection for our personal appearance. Just read the blogs of cyberspace, you will realize how many opinions of people are posted. We are not easily satisfied. We are hungry creatures who want to devour anything that crosses our path. We move and think that we are “ok.” But are we deceived? There is a difference between knowing the truth and being deceived. We realize that our being “ok” is just a facade of what is in our hearts. We want to excel in the things that we are good at, but eventually understand that our lives will not be worth living when our “ok” becomes “not ok.” We are easily deceived into falsehood, lies and error. In the end, we come to grips that when “the Truth” is not accepted by us, we are in the losing end of things.
According to Henri J.M. Nouwen in his book The Way of the Heart, the search for ourselves is deeply rooted in our hearts. This is what he says:
Who am I? I am the one who is liked, praised, admired, disliked, hated or despised. Whether I am a pianist, a businessman, or a minister, what matters is how I am perceived by my world … These very compulsions are at the basis of the two enemies of the spiritual life: anger and greed. They are the inner side of a secular life, the sour fruits of our worldly dependencies. What else is anger than the impulsive response to the experience of being deprived? … And when my sense of self depends on what I can acquire, greed flares up when my desires are frustrated. Thus greed and anger are brother and sister of a false self fabricated by the social compulsions of an unredeemed world.
We are lost, totally lost in our own desires or our own deceitfulness. We deceive in order to gain, we cheat in order to get back, and we try to achieve something by dishonesty and bribery. It is interesting to note that even our television series or our movies speak of such things. Betrayal, distrust, injustice, lies, and deception are themes in which we surround our lives. Where is truth? What is truth? Who is truth? We are so confused about ourselves, our world, our families, our society, our religion, and even our culture.
Desires and deceitfulness are two extremes of a spectrum of the totality of our hearts. Some want to be successful in their lives and some are easily satisfied with the way things are. Some venture into things that their hearts cannot carry. Some say the heart is very deep. Psychologists and Psychiatrists are scratching only the surface what our hearts are really like. The heart is the center of our mind, emotions and will. It is where we embrace our reality and then understand in our consciousness the essence of living in a world of relationships. The heart has to do with real effective relationships; it is where we draw our energy for the present and the future. The heart has its pasts and learning from it gives us a lot of wisdom. For the next generation of people, we are very familiar with the internet, with its countless avenues in order to “connect” with people of all races, cultures, and ethnicity. Indeed, the heart ultimately is about relationships.
Desires are always there with us as we grow into our latter years in life. But often time deceitfulness crept into our lives as we “defend” ourselves from other people. We want to hide ourselves from each other, thus no genuine relationship happens. We cling on to what we can offer to each other. We have desires that want to be satisfied in the different stages of our growth as a person. Buddhism talks about the cessation of desires. But are we truly free from desires when we reach enlightenment? Desire will always be there for us to keep in the aspects of deception.
Are we deceived in our hearts? Or are our desires ready to explode and find new ways for satisfaction? Are we truly contented with who we are and what we have? Or is the search for meaning in our world has come to an end, that we become so preoccupied with the things of our world?
 Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981), 10-11 shows the extent of practicing solitude, silence and faithful prayer to Christ in order to overcome these compulsions of the world.