— The Practice of Transparency

The Four Insights are wisdom teachings long protected by secret societies of Earthkeepers—the medicine men and women of the Americas. The ancients used their mastery of the insights to heal disease, eliminate emotional suffering, and grow new bodies that age and die differently. 

The Practice of Transparency is the third of four lessons in The Way of the Seer. In earlier blogs, we covered the First Insight: The Way of the Hero and the Second Insight: The Way of the Luminous Warrior.

You practice transparency when you stop hiding the parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable.

Once when I was getting on a bus in the Inka highlands with don Antonio, he chose to become invisible to everyone but me. I could see him, but I soon realized that no one else could. We had several buses to take on our journey, and to my amazement, every time we lined up and boarded, the bus drivers asked for the tickets of every traveler except my mentor―it was as if they looked right through him. At one point, a heavyset woman carrying a small child and a chicken came on board, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d sat down on don Antonio’s lap, unable to see that he was right there next to me.

When we practice transparency, however, we don’t have to do it literally. It simply means that we allow others to see us and that we have nothing to hide. After all, it’s what we’re trying to conceal that’s actually the most visible to other people. When we see an arrogant man bossing someone around or bragging about himself, we clearly see that underneath all that bluster, he’s insecure about his power and importance. When we see a lovely young woman dressed in baggy clothing with her hair hiding her face, we know that she’s feeling unattractive and fearful of rejection.

But we hide more than our insecurities. Oftentimes we hide our beauty and power as well because we’re uncomfortable with them or fear the consequences of letting our light shine. One of my students, for instance, was a very smart young woman who was married to an older man. She continually masked her intelligence because her husband found it threatening. After completing her training, she realized that she could no longer pretend to be a trophy wife―so she persuaded her spouse to join her book club and engage in activities with her that she found intellectually stimulating.

Practicing transparency doesn’t mean that you have to become a target. If you’ve chosen to walk a spiritual path, you don’t have to hide it for fear of ridicule. Another of my students is a nurse and felt the need to conceal the fact that she was a healer and practiced energy medicine with her hospital patients (as well as performing her conventional medical duties, of course). She was afraid that at any time she might be discovered and fired, and perhaps lose her license. But as her patients kept getting better and doctors continued to try to place their patients on her floor, she realized that she was trying to hide her greatest asset. She didn’t need to explain to anyone what she did or believed in―she only had to reveal herself, at the level of the sacred, which is beyond words and explanation, and acknowledge what others could already see. When we have nothing left to hide, we become transparent. In my previous books, which were quite autobiographical, I revealed a lot about myself. People asked me if I was concerned that strangers as well as friends now knew so much about me, and I explained that I was actually happy that I now had nothing left to conceal. All of my failings and foibles were out there in the open, and I didn’t have to expend energy to cover them up.

Hiding our true selves attracts to us those who embody that which we keep secret. It externalizes our healing process, entangling us in another person’s drama and leaving us more vulnerable and fragile than we were before. It also causes us to become identified with a story, such as “I’m easily taken advantage of, so I need to act tough and abrasive in this negotiation,” or “I’m easily hurt, so I’d better not attract a lover.” We bury the unhealed part of ourselves deep inside, and the wound remains there until someone comes along to rub a little salt on it to remind us of our need for growth.

When we practice full disclosure about who we are and stop trying to hide parts of ourselves in order to please others, fit in, or prevent ourselves from experiencing pain, other people can become confused because they, too, have bought into our old story. It’s okay if those around us don’t understand or embrace our many facets―it’s human nature to try to categorize and pigeonhole each other, even though we’re all a bundle of contradictions. So at the level of serpent, I tell people that I’m an anthropologist. In jaguar, I let them know that I study how we make ourselves ill and how we can make ourselves well, and that I also train Western shamans. In hummingbird, I look into their eyes and say nothing because words cannot describe my being. In eagle, I invite them to taste the One Spirit that we share.

Most strangers I sit next to on airplanes are content to learn that I’m a teacher or anthropologist. They have a way to tag me, and then we can go on to talk about the weather. I don’t need to explain to them that there are realms beyond what we can see or hear. But I don’t hide who I am―if I meet someone who’s truly curious and I believe it can make a difference, I talk to him or her on a spiritual level and we discuss things of real substance.

Transparency means establishing congruence between who you say you are and who you really are. It means “walking your talk.” But you can’t show your true self to others when you don’t know who you are. In an earlier blog, you learned that you’re not your roles: You’re not mother, executive, son, or daughter, but these are parts that you play, and you can’t be contained by such limited definitions. The real you is the seer, who observes all you do yet is unaffected by any of your thoughts or actions. This is the one who can’t be defined by any role, age, or social standing.