The Stone Tablets of
Radical Honesty

(What we learned, high on the mountain, from the Burning Bush.)

The Core Principles of Radical Honesty

  1. Lying is the primary cause of suffering

  2. Living honestly is the antidote to lying and the root of its power is in distinguishing noticing from thinking.

  3. You can only notice in the moment. And you can only notice three categories of things: sensations, thoughts, and your external surroundings.

  4. Sharing honestly what you notice frees you from the suffering caused by attachment to lying, withholding, phoniness, and ideals.

  5. Sharing honestly what you notice also deepens love, connection, understanding and forgiveness (eventually).

  6. Radical Honesty is a living, walking, talking out-loud meditation that moves you from reactivity to being a creator of your own life.

A Somewhat More Elaborate Review and
Explanation of those Principles


  1. Lying is a/the primary cause of suffering: Stress, pain, oppression of self and others, even war… are primarily caused and maintained by various forms of lying (withholding, pretending, attachment to belief about what “should” be true, etc). Being honest, listening and sticking with each other is the key to improving relationships with others and improving how we feel about ourselves.

    Radical Honesty is not to be confused with a moral obligation to tell the truth. It is a pragmatic, functional path to reduce human suffering through sharing in depth and detail what you feel, what you think, what you have done, and what you want. It is a way to liberate yourself from being at the mercy of your untrustworthy reactive mind and to get to a place where you forgive other people and yourself at the same time.

  2. Distinguishing noticing from thinking is at the root of the power to live honestly: There is a difference between noticing and thinking. In order to share your experience with someone else, you need to distinguish between what happened and what your mind does with what happened. Radical Honesty is about grounding yourself in what you can notice with your senses (see with your eyes and hear with your ears and sense in your body). It entails distinguishing that noticing of what is real from the reactive meanings you make about reality…based on the judgments, memories and comparisons of your mind.

  3. The Awareness Continuum: Everything you can be aware of can be divided into 3 parts: 1. You can notice sensations in your body right now. 2. You can notice what’s going on outside of you in the world around you right now, and 3. You can notice what’s going on in your mind right now. That’s all there is. There is nothing more you can notice in the world. Based on that simple way of distinguishing things, we recommend:

    • Practice alternating, (1) noticing sensations in your body, (2) your perceptions of things happening in the world, and (3) what goes through your mind in the moment, and reporting each of those noticings to others.

    • Noticing and reporting enhances the quality of your experience. When you report what you notice, how you feel about that changes and how you connect to others and the world intensifies.

    • Radical Honesty is about getting back to a child-like quality of noticing and expressing without inhibiting yourself by reactions to partially forgotten past experiences, analyzing, judging, or filtering too much with the mind.

    • We ground ourselves in the experience of our bodies in the world in relation to gravity, and to others in the moment, and we share the ramblings of our weird minds as well. Most human suffering comes from our attachments to the judgements of our minds, more than literal pain from our physical experiences.

    • Simplicity of interpretation is essential to Radical Honesty. If I’m crying I’m probably sad, if I am tense and my heart is racing and my voice in strained and I am shaking I am probably mad and a little scared. If I am laughing I am probably happy. If I mix those messages we have to figure them out by being with them and sharing them with others until some clear response and interpretation emerges.

4. The sequence of getting over things (the process of getting to forgiveness) is as follows:

1. You lose faith in your mind from having it work so poorly so often when you were sure you were right but it turned out that you weren’t.

2. You get grounded in noticing rather than thinking

3. You take the practice of simple Radical Honesty into your life and clean up how the past and present reactions have steered the ship of your life. Acknowledge that  while you have deluded yourself that it is what your mind figured out that directed your life, that was mostly bullshit.

4. You become conscious creator of your life rather than a mess of reactions, rationalized, in order to appear to be in control.


5. Honestly describing your moment to moment experience frees you from suffering that comes from attachment to ideas and ideals that you use to resist your experience.

Radical Honesty is noticing and reporting what you notice, being with it, acknowledging it, and letting it come and go. When you experience an experience it comes and goes. When you resist an experience it persists.

6. What most folks call spiritual is what we call experiential. We fundamentally assert that when you experience an experience it comes and goes. And if you resist having an experience, like trying to “figure it out” instead of accept it, it persists, because of your resistance, and fails to go away.

  • The freedom to let things come and go without controlling them is something we value. Nothing helps the flow of coming and going of experiences so much as acknowledging what is happening as it happens and being willing to be with it.
  • Embracing/experiencing your experience allows it to come and go because it is acknowledged and reported and owned and experienced and therefore it can pass. It can go away because you are no longer trying to make it go away. When it is resisted it can take literally forever to get over.

  • Telling the truth, no matter how difficult, works better than not telling the truth…almost all of the time! Expressing uncomfortable feelings and secrets liberates us from living from avoiding what is so, frees our attention to experience life, helps us move through feelings instead of staying stuck in them. You can  admit and accept your experience and get over it. If you keep it a secret you keep it a long time whether you want to or not.

  • Radical Honesty is not about controlling the outcome of your communication, it’s about… relating to the reality of the here and now and flowing on with it as things change.

  • Radical Honesty is about Letting go of defensive control: Obsessive pursuit of control creates suffering. Surrender to experience allows things to intensify, de-intensify and then recede..

  • Radical Honesty entails productively leaning-into discomfort and productive conflict that leads to resolution rather than avoidance. Politeness is sometimes used for conflict avoidance.Tell her the truth about how you think she looks in that dress.

  • Sharing what you notice about your experience is key to transforming and transcending it.


Some Clarifying Comments from
Radical Honesty Trainers and Friends


Taber Shadburne says: Learning to communicate in a new way is an evolutionary step required for our species to survive and thrive.

John Rosania says: Radical Honesty is a living, walking, talking/out loud meditation, a practice.

Jay Caputo says: Radical Honesty is...1. Awareness of what is actually true and what is not true within my body, being and mind in this moment. 2. A full expression of what is true and an invitation for others to fully express the same way. 3. Authentic connection with others based on our individual expressions of what is true and what is not true. 4. Acceptance of what is true and what is not true for myself and for others. 5. Creation of the life and relationships I most want based on the freedom I gain through the practice of awareness, full expression, connection and acceptance of mine and others sharing of what is true or not true for us.

Andrew Kontola says: We are like monkeys but have big brains.Our big monkey brains forget stuff, make stuff up, and give us a flawed monkey story. Sometimes monkeys fight about their story being the right story and monkeys hurt about that. Sometimes my monkey story doesn’t match reality and that hurts too. But we like to be with other monkeys and we want to be playing in the trees and eating bananas. We Radical Honesty monkeys don’t worry too much about our reality. We understand that our monkey stories don’t match, and we still get hurt about that sometimes. We feel our hurt and talk to other monkeys about our hurt…and then we aren’t alone with our hurt and we stop feeling hurt…and that’s how we get over being a hurt monkey for today. And then we go back to making monkey sounds and playing and climbing trees and eating bananas.

Sarah Hobbs says: Radical Honesty is a meditation between two (or more) people:

  • Be conscious about speaking and listening, as the way you speak and listen creates your future.

  • The quality of your communication and contact is more important than your ideas.

  • RH is a 21st century form of spiritual practice to take into the world to practice with other people.

  • There are 6 main distinctions in Radical Honesty, which lead into each other in this order:

  1.  Body vs. Mind - Noticing vs. Thinking, Inside/Outside/Upside Down, Experienced experience vs. Non-experienced Experience...all of these concepts have to do with distinguishing the mind (which makes up stories) from the body (which doesn't, and more importantly, cannot). I came up with, "Your mind is a story-teller, your body is a truth-teller".
  2. Me vs. You - "I am me, you is you," I do my thing, you do your thing. Using Sometimes I Pretend, the 3 Taboos, and other exercises, we take ownership of our own thoughts, emotions, & actions. By doing so, we take responsibility for our own happiness and well-being, instead of relying on someone else to create that for us in our relationships.
  3.  Past vs. Present - "The past is over, we only have the here & now." Your present moment-to-moment experience is what matters. I notice, I imagine teaches that you can't notice the past. Yoga, meditation, and using how instead of why/because brings you back to the present. We are shaped by our past experiences, we learn from them, and then we learn we don't have to be ruled by them. Your wound can become your gift.
  4. Belief vs. UNbelief - Letting go of moralism and your beliefs about what you should or shouldn't do, and following the rules & playing the social roles you were taught. Letting go of righteousness and expectations you have of yourself and others. The Sufi Levels of Consciousness models an example to lead you into unbelief. "Attachment to belief causes suffering. Control is a delusion. Give up belief in belief."
  5.  Honesty vs. Lying/Withholding - "Lying causes stress. Honesty creates intimacy." We define honesty as telling the truth about what you think and how you feel, and lying is dishonesty as well as withholding expressing the truth. Lying and withholding are the main causes of stress in life, and we learn to lie and withhold to protect others (but really ourselves) from negative or hurt feelings. It's all just sensations; experience them and they will pass. Tell the truth, and stay with the other person until their feelings come and go. Get hurt and get over it. Get mad and get over it.
  6. Complete the Past & Create your Future - "Get over shit and be happy." I like this one as a both/and about using honesty to own your power, do your “completion work”, resolve unfinished business from your past with your family and former and current friends and lovers, and create your own future. Express your resentments and appreciations to family, friends, co-workers, bosses, past partners and current lovers so you can complete the past, reach forgiveness, and create new relationships from the old ones, as well as to create deeper and more intimate relationships with new people. Use the Creating Your Future model in the book Practicing Radical Honesty, to write your life purpose statement, and live from that instead of reactivity to your past.