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Moving Toward Truthfulness

Happiness is emerging from within us. I talked about the beginning steps to unfolding the happiness that is within us. Developing a daily pattern (samskara) of non-violence (ahimsa) toward ourselves and others is the first step to experiencing the happiness that is within. This is first of five yamas.

The next yama, satya, is truthfulness. Developing the pattern of speaking and thinking the truth (satya) is intimately connected with not harming ourselves. We know this from the criminal justice system. When investigators want to know if someone is telling the truth, they set up the lie detector. It measures the galvanic response in the body when one speaks or thinks truth or falsehood. When we lie we start to sweat and the lie detector picks that up. Even though in our daily lives we do not have a lie detector hooked up to us, every time we speak or think an untruth our body goes through a subtle jerk, a subtle disconnection. It starts to sweat. The mind knows that the mouth said something false and it creates a small synapse jump in the brain that makes us sweat. This jerk, now sweat, is detected by the machine. If we do this often enough, we are hurting our brain by setting up the pattern (samskara) of “mind-body-non-communicating” with each other. This samskara of the mind disturbs the body with heat that in the long run becomes inflammation.

The medical world has determined that inflammation is quite harmful for our health. But that’s another issue. Let’s get back to truthfulness.

Truthfulness is often a challenge to not just our relationship with others, but a challenge to ourselves. It is quite easy to deceive ourselves because no one else knows about the lie until it becomes very obvious. Have you ever experienced others denying that they are doing something wrong to themselves until it becomes so apparent that the denial can’t be avoided? I saw my brother do that with his alcohol drinking. He would always say, “Look, I can handle it! And I can quit at any time.” Well, when the farm cows that he managed were not being fed properly and his health deteriorated almost to death, he finally admitted that his drinking was out of control.

Each of us also likes to look good in the eyes of others. Or sometimes we set a standard of living that we consider very worthy and unbreakable, yet we break it. I am still struggling with this pattern of choosing to look good in the eyes of others, while knowing the mistakes and harmful things I do. Whenever I deceive others, by speaking in a “saintly or wise” fashion or promoting a certain healthy living pattern, and yet know that I don’t always act that way, I feel terrible inside. At those times, I temporarily lose contact with my happy, blissful core. At those times, I move away from happiness.

I have found that when I publically admit my mistakes and failures in striving for a healthy and whole life I feel much happier. That happiness exceeds the embarrassment and my tarnished public image. I have achieved true happiness in the midst of personal failure and embarrassment.

Again, at moments like that – being “embarrassingly” truthful – I smile at myself because I touch the eternal, happy core of my fallible human nature. I encourage you to join the club and restrain yourself from lying to yourself and others. You may experience the joy of truthfulness also.

Together we can happily practice satya (truthfulness). Then we get a bit closer to the ultimate happiness for which we all long.


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