|YOGALife - Spring 1998|
|Table of Contents|
|·||Memories of Swami Vishnu-devananda|
|·||Yoga Behind Bars|
Ahimsa satyasteya brahmacharya aparigraha yamah
-Patanjali, Raja Yoga Sutras
II - 30. The yamas consist of non-injury, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence, and non-acquisitiveness.
The yamas, or abstentions, make up the most basic of all spiritual practices. They are the injunctions common to every religion. These forms of self-restraint purify the individual and eliminate all of one’s negative influences on others and the environment. Violence to others, whether in thought, word or deed, must be avoided. Non-injury means more than refraining from inflicting physical pain. Mental pain can be far more devastating. When one is established in complete harmlessness, even wild animals will approach in peace. The function of truth is to maintain harmony through trust. It is better to be silent than to tell the truth that will cause pain or that springs from a wrong motive. A truthful person has power, for what he says comes to pass, and his word becomes law.
- Swami Vishnu-devananda, Meditation and Mantras
Truth is the seat of God. Truth is God and Truth alone triumphs. Truth is the basic law of life, the means and the ultimate goal. Truth is the law of freedom, falsehood is the law of slavery and death. Truth is justice, fair play and adherence to the fundamental laws of ethics. Purity and truth are the twin factors that unfold and awaken the Divinity that lies dormant within you and leads you to perfection.
Truthfulness is the first pillar in the temple of God-realization. Truth is the gateway to the kingdom of God. Truth is like a ladder, leading you to the kingdom of immortal bliss.
Speaking truth is the most important qualification for a Yogi. Truth is the queen of virtues, the supreme virtue. Truth constitutes the essence of the Vedas. Control over passion constitutes the essence of truth. Self-denial or refraining from worldly enjoyments forms the essence of self-control. These attributes are always present in a virtuous person.
Truth is righteousness, light and bliss. Non-injury, chastity, purity, justice, harmony, forgiveness and peace are all forms of truth. Impartiality, self-control, modesty, endurance, dignity, goodness, renunciation, meditation, fortitude, compassion and abstention from injury are the various forms of truth. All the above virtues, though seemingly different, have but one and the same form, namely, truth. All these uphold and strengthen it. When you tread the path of truth, everything else also is done. When the root is watered, all the branches are automatically watered. Be truthful. All righteousness is contained in this single commandment. Whatever you do, be true to yourself and to the world. Do not hide your thoughts. Be frank, sincere and candid. Be straightforward and courageous in expressing your views. Be faithful to your trust. Deceive no one who relies upon you. Keep your promise even at the cost of your life. Your life may go but not the given word. Do not hastily give your assent to anybody, to anything. Always think deeply, cogitate, reflect and say, "I shall think over the matter and talk to you later." Do not make promises, but say, "I shall try. I shall think over the matter." You will be saved and will not be caught in the whirlpool of troubles, repentance and sorrow. To tell a lie is a great sin. He who utters falsehood loses faith of other persons. People will not believe him even if he speaks the truth. The habit of telling lies becomes deep-rooted through constant repetition. A person must ovten tell several lies to cover up one falsehood or insincerity. A lie concealed by another lie leads to more lies. A sin concealed by another sin leads to more sins. A liar is a coward. Uttering falsehood is a certain mark of cowardice. Speak the truth and you will develop courage. Truth is complete in itself. It has a very strong foundation in itself. It is bold and has no fears. It has no limit of space and time. It is a fearless, free bird in the sky and does not care for status. It is wealth in itself. It stands even when there in no public support. Truth can be compared to a pasture and falsehood to a bush of thorns. In a person who indulges in false thoughts, there is a lurking fear at every moment, an uneasiness, a fear of the self, a want of confidence, and a feeling that something wrong may happen. Truth, on the other hand is the path of righteousness, which certainly leads to success in the long run. It is a straight road with no doubtful cross-roads.
There are certain fallacies that arise in following the straight path of truth. It is absolutely harmless for a mother who fondly nurses her child to divert the attention of the child by saying that the small piece of sweetmeat has been carried away by the crow a short while back, and she shows herself to be extremely sorry and comforts the child by saying, "Never mind, I shall bring a bigger cake for you in the evening." It is absolutely no untruth if you do not interfere with others, wound their feelings, harm others and spoil others. If you refuse a small loan, certainly with something for you to fall back upon, if you refuse to lend your pen or any object, these cannot be taken as untruths. A worldly person, a moralist and a spiritual seeker have different conceptions of truth. A moralist cares for the result of truth. If the lives of many innocent persons can be saved by telling a lie, it is truth for a moralist, because an untruth has brought the greatest good. If the utterance of a truth brings greater harm to many persons, it is an untruth according to a moralist.
For the spiritual seeker, Brahman is Truth; this world is unreal, it is a mere illusion. The world is an untruth, the Absolute is the only Truth. The world is represented by sex and ego. The Absolute is represented by the nominal, Gnostic Being. Truth is not expressed even by Satchidananda (Existence- Knowledge-Bliss-Absolute). It is only the nearest relative of Truth. Truth is even greater, grander and mightier. Truth is; untruth is not. Hence it is not absolutely correct even to say that Truth is one, for Truth is Existence Itself. Truth is utterly public and cannot be hidden even if one should try to do so. Truth persists and is always expressed even in the extreme untruth. The extreme truth is the Absolute. Untruth is a shadow of truth. Everything that changes is untruth. Hence, Truth is infinite. Truth endures while everything else perishes.
Everything from Brahma (the Creator) right down to a blade of grass moves towards Truth, some quite consciously, some unconsciously. They differ only in the degree of consciousness or to the extent of mental purification or subtlety of condition. Every leaf that flutters in the air, every breath that flows from us, every Truth is the eternal home of all beings. Into It they all enter and find permanent satisfaction and peace. It is truth that triumphs over falsehood, not falsehood over truth, whatever the immediate and apparent experience may be.
The scriptures emphatically declare: "Speak the truth; truth alone triumphs, not falsehood." God is Truth and Truth must be realized by speaking the truth. A truthful person is absolutely free from worries and all kinds of anxiety. He has a calm mind. If one observes the vow of speaking the truth for twelve years, one will attain "perfection of speech". Then, whatever such a person utters will come to pass. There will be power in the speech of such a person.
Your thoughts should agree with your words and the words should agree with your actions. In the world, people think of one such thing, say something else, and do another thing. This is horrible and nothing but crookedness. You must watch your thoughts, words and actions carefully. The little you gain by telling lies is no gain at all. You pollute your conscience and infect your subconscious mind. The habit of telling lies is carried to your next birth and you undergo suffering from birth to birth. Meditate on truth.
Derive inspiration from the lives of those who have sacrificed all for the sake of truth. Write in bold letters the words "Speak the Truth" on pieces of cardboard and hang them in different places in your house. This will caution you when you are about to tell a lie. You will then check yourself at once. A time will come when you will be established in the habit of speaking the truth. Punish yourself by fasting if you tell a lie and record the lies in a diary. Stick to the path of truth at all costs. Truth has a luster of its own, shining by itself and shedding its light on others. When you adhere strictly to truth alone at all times, at all places and on all occasions, you cannot afford to harm anyone. Perfect peace and real happiness will be yours.
Have ceaseless devotion to truth. Be ready to sacrifice your life for it. You will develop a strong will and will become fearless. You will draw immense strength and courage from the Atman or the Supreme Self within.
If you ask me, "What is the first thing in God-realization?" I will reply, "The first, second and third thing therein, nay, all is truthfulness."
Let truth and purity light up your career, guide your conduct and mold your character. If the mind is impure, Self-realization cannot be attained even if you meditate for twenty hours daily. Even Yudhisthira had to visit hell as he once told a lie - a modified, twisted truth, in a dexterous manner. In truth there is no deceit whatsoever. If speaking of truth leads another to dishonor, injury and pain, it is no longer a virtue. Then it becomes a deadly sin. Speak what is true and pleasant. Speak no disagreeable truth. Speak no agreeable falsehood. Truth always exists in a pure and unmixed state. Truth includes self-restraint, absence of jealousy, forgiveness, patience, endurance, kindness and love. Peace is truth, truth is peace. If you want to attain peace, be truthful at all times. The mind is exalted by truthfulness. The intellect is refined by sublime, divine ideas. Through the practice of speaking the truth, the inner instrument is purified, shines like a clean mirror and reflects the divine form of the Lord with great effulgence. All is well with him whose heart is turned towards Truth. No disease can assault him. The path of Truth is a precipitous one, slippery and sharp as the edge of a blade. It is a difficult path to tread. Giants among spiritual men walk over it to the city of perfection. Keep company with evolved souls who tread the path of Truth. Always mark carefully what is going on in the inner mental factory. Give up all sorts of mean actions. Become a noble, magnanimous soul. Nobility is truth, magnanimity is truth. If people mock at you, keep silent. Never retort.
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