Radical Honesty or Deluding Yourself?

three gates of truth

There is a concept circulating around the Tantra scene right now; and I roll my eyes every time I hear it.

Radical honesty.

It’s a wonderful-sounding concept. The idea is that one should be totally honest and not be concerned about what other people think. In this meme, honesty comes above concern for the feelings of others.

Now of course there is a place for moving beyond our conditioning on the path of awakening. And if we start to censor ourselves due to concern for what others thing then we start to feel inauthentic. To feel authentic is to feel real, true and alive. It is a highly sought-after state in the world of Tantra and conscious relating.


Sometimes I see this term being used as an excuse for uncensored speech, which, lets face it, is a far cry from channeling pure divine truth. To say “You look fat in that dress” might be framed as radical honesty, but did saying it really bring the world one step closer toward enlightenment and awakening? Did it really bring you one step closer to the transparency of your ego to let your soul-light shine through? Or was it just cheap truth?

Cheap truth because it cost you nothing at all, but could have cost the recipient a whole bunch of self-love issues.

What is really valuable when it comes to “speaking your truth” is to reveal something that is truly vulnerable about you. Not something that reveals someone else’s process (as far as you are concerned). It is EASY to speculate about someone else. It is difficult to reveal your own hard truths and hidden shadows. And this, as far as I am concerned, is the only radical honestly that has any value to it. This is the communication style that will bring you a step closer towards you own authenticity. And if course, because it is about you and not the other, it does not create any unkindness.

From the other angle, some people actually request hard feedback as they see it as a potential for growth. If someone requests your honest opinion that is a different matter from offering it uninvited as part of your “radical honesty commitment”!

I suggest that if you really want to learn what it is to be radically honest, start with yourself. Reveal what is just slightly difficult to reveal. Share at your edge, with those you trust (I’m not advocating revealing deeply personal issues all over facebook!). Share into spaces that you feel can hold you. Before you speak, take a moment to feel your recipient and how much space is there for your sharing, how much presence. It can be in imposition to share when someone does not have time and space. It can be inappropriate to share with the wrong person.

There is a wonderful saying in the spiritual world that can be a helpful guide here:

Before you speak let your words pass through three gates:

  1. is it true?
  2. is it necessary?
  3. is it kind?

Reminding us that the truth of being honest needs always to be balanced with the love of being compassionate. Whereas truth is a masculine quality, compassion is the feminine counterpart. Both are needed for the totality.

Be kind to yourself, kind to others. And let your radical honesty be tempered with some radical compassion.