Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

From Sincerity to Authenticity

--by John O'Donohue (Apr 16, 2007)

One of the most vulnerable living forms in creation is human. At this moment, there are people in a doctor's office getting news that will change their lives forever. [...] There are people having accidents that they never foresaw. There are safe, complacent people whose lives are managed under the dead manacle of control, falling off a cliff into love and into the excitement and danger of a new relationship. In life, anything can come along the pathway to the house of your soul, the house of your body, to transfigure you. We're vulnerable externally to destiny, but we're also vulnerable internally, within ourselves. Things can come awake within your mind and heart that cause you immense days and nights of pain, a sense of being lost, of having no meaning, no worth; a kind of acidic negativity can knock down everything that you achieve in yourself, giving your world a sense of being damaged.

Another way to approach this is to look at the huge difference between sincerity and authenticity. Sincerity, while it's lovely, is necessary but insufficient, because you can be sincere with just one zone of your heart awakened. When many zones of the heart are awakened and harmonized we can speak of authenticity, which is a broader and more complex notion. It takes great courage and grace to feel the call to awaken, and it takes greater courage and more grace still to actually submit to the call, to risk yourself into these interior spaces where there is very often little protection. It takes a great person to creatively inhabit her own mind and not turn her mind into a destructive force that can ransack her life.


[Even some] lovely people feel that their real identity is working on themselves, and some work on themselves with such harshness. Like a demented gardener who won't let the soil settle for anything to grow, they keep raking, tearing away the nurturing clay from their own heart, then they're surprised that they feel so empty and vacant. Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do.

-–John O'Donohue

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17 Previous Reflections:

On Dec 29, 2018 kk wrote:


On Dec 1, 2018 Khan Sahab wrote:

This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value. Im glad to have found this post as its such an interesting one! I am always on the lookout for quality posts and articles so i suppose im lucky to have found this! I hope you will be adding more in the future... que se celebra el 5 de febrero

On Sep 30, 2018 afiya ali wrote:


Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful!

On Jan 31, 2016 Stuart wrote:

Its frightening to be so open leaving yourself vulnerable, but I trust my soul.

On Jan 29, 2016 Marilyn Taylor wrote:

 A wonderful way to start my morning.

On Jul 1, 2009 Neha wrote:

This is one of the most beautiful articles ever! Every word resonates within and makes you look inward.



On May 30, 2007 Timoteo wrote:
Sincerity is not easy.Sincerity is the truth about myself.Sincerity can be expressed;it essentially it has to do with ourselves.It is self-perception.AUTHENTICITY is more than sincerity.AUTHENTICITY is what we need all the time and everywhere.AUTHENTICITY is the opposite of ARTIFICIALITY.AUTHENTICITY is TRUENESS.

On May 27, 2007 sheetal wrote:
"Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do."
What a powerful statement. Made me reflect on why i sometimes dont have the courage to hear what my heart is saying!

On Apr 20, 2007 Harsha wrote:
Its great quote by John O'Donohue. It needs a great courage to face the darker side(Loneliness) of the self but by connecting to the positive side (Love/Peace) or being authentic we can light up and clear the darker side.

I like the new feature (Listen!) added. it really helps to hear the thought from some other tone.

-Peace is our original nature!!

On Apr 18, 2007 VM wrote:
The remarkable magazine Paul refers to is available online, and an interview with Celaya can be found here:

(see link)

On Apr 18, 2007 Paul wrote:
Here is a nice quote by artist Enrique Martinez Celaya brought to us by our friend Richard Whittaker via the latest edition of Works & Conservations:

"..the inherent authority of authenticity frees us from the enslavement of external confirmation, which in turn allows us to involve others, not as targets of our status anxiety, but as subjects of our love."

On Apr 18, 2007 kes thily wrote:
A real inspiration, to lead a life meaningful: a path to jump to the higher platform of life.

On Apr 17, 2007 Richard wrote:
Listening to soul...not so easy...Hard to even hear, at times...

On Apr 17, 2007 Salem wrote:
Thank you. You spoke to my heart today.

On Apr 17, 2007 ADEYEMI ADEWALE wrote:
This is good, very educative. Thanks for the inspiration.

On Apr 17, 2007 Elliot wrote:
This is truly and hauntingly beautiful. It holds within it a great deal of truth about the liquid nature of life's experiences. Self-love and self-nurturing are at the heart of our soul's needs.

On Apr 17, 2007 Susan wrote:
I'm happy to read this kind of insparational notes.