Living in two worlds – the real and the apparent.
Sutapa Das: According to the cosmic cycle described in the Vedas, we are living in the most corrupted epoch. Four fundamental principles underpin any functional society, organization, family or group; self-control, cleanliness, compassion, and truthfulness. When individuals wholeheartedly embrace these virtues, success is guaranteed on every level – physically, emotionally, socially, and most importantly, spiritually. The analysis of the sages, however, reveals that three of the four are practically obliterated, and society now delicately hinges on the single principle of truthfulness. The irony – to conceal our frail character and avoid exposing those predictable deficiencies, we end up fabricating lies, lies, and more lies. The tendency towards deceit and dishonesty then, is the proverbial nail in the coffin.
One of the biggest criteria for deepening our spirituality is the strength to be open and honest. Instead, however, we are often closed and pretentious. In the name of saving our face, we kill our soul. Sometimes we invent, sometimes we withhold, sometimes we exaggerate, sometimes we stay quiet and let the lies roll – a variety of ingenious ways in which we compromise our integrity. When asked, “What is a lie?” Augustine responded: “Any statement meant to deceive another.” It’s scary to think how much of our day could be spent lying – rehearsing future conversations, rehashing events of the past and reconstructing inaccurate projections of the present self.
We all know the value of meditation, yoga and wisdom study in our spiritual growth. Let us, however, not underestimate some of the more ordinary disciplines and human qualities that can prove equally valuable in this profound journey. Truthfulness is undoubtedly one of them. Every time we are untruthful we create an alternative reality. We force ourselves to live in two worlds – the real and the apparent. When we choose honesty in all aspects of life, including our family, our work, our spirituality, and all our relationships, we live the same life wherever we are. Simple, stress-free and sublime. By living with honesty, we create opportunities to become all the good things lying helps us pretend we already are. Confronting our imperfections, instead of dodging them, unmasks defects which we then have the opportunity to change.
I’ll never forget a saintly mentor who once said: “if I spent as much energy in truly becoming humble, as I do in portraying an image of humility, I may well have developed some humility by now.” His honesty, in great humility, rang true as my reality.