Truthfulness

Posted: 28/06/2013 in Routine
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Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.

How to Live With God

Religion teaches us how to become better people, how to live as spiritual beings on this Earth. This happens through living virtuously, following the natural and essential guidelines of dharma. For Hindus, these guidelines are recorded in the yamas and niyamas, ancient scriptural injunctions for all aspects of human thought, attitude and behavior. In Indian spiritual life, these Vedic restraints and observances are built into the character of children from a very early age. For adults who have been subjected to opposite behavioral patterns, these guidelines may seem to be like commandments. However, even they can, with great dedication and effort, remold their character and create the foundation necessary for a sustained spiritual life. Through following the yamas and niyamas, we cultivate our refined, spiritual being while keeping the instinctive nature in check. We lift ourself into the consciousness of the higher chakras — of love, compassion, intelligence and bliss — and naturally invoke the blessings of the divine devas and Mahadevas.

Yama means “reining in” or “control.” The yamas include such injunctions as noninjury (ahimsa), nonstealing (asteya) and moderation in eating (mitahara), which harness the base, instinctive nature. Niyama, literally “unleashing,” indicates the expression of refined, soul qualities through such disciplines as charity (dana), contentment (santosha) and incantation (japa).

It is true that bliss comes from meditation, and it is true that higher consciousness is the heritage of all mankind. However, the ten restraints and their corresponding practices are necessary to maintain bliss consciousness, as well as all of the good feelings toward oneself and others attainable in any incarnation. These restraints and practices build character. Character is the foundation for spiritual unfoldment.

The fact is, the higher we go, the lower we can fall. The top chakras spin fast; the lowest one available to us spins even faster. The platform of character must be built within our lifestyle to maintain the total contentment needed to persevere on the path. These great rishis saw the frailty of human nature and gave these guidelines, or disciplines, to make it strong. They said, “Strive!” Let’s strive to not hurt others, to be truthful and honor all the rest of the virtues they outlined.

The ten yamas are: 1) ahimsa, “noninjury,” not harming others by thought, word or deed; 2) satya, “truthfulness,” refraining from lying and betraying promises; 3) asteya, “nonstealing,” neither stealing nor coveting nor entering into debt; 4) brahmacharya, “divine conduct,” controlling lust by remaining celibate when single, leading to faithfulness in marriage; 5) kshama, “patience,” restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances; 6) dhriti, “steadfastness,” overcoming nonperseverance, fear, indecision, inconstancy and changeableness; 7) daya, “compassion,” conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings; 8) arjava, “honesty, straightforwardness,” renouncing deception and wrongdoing; 9) mitahara, “moderate appetite,” neither eating too much nor consuming meat, fish, fowl or eggs; 10) shaucha, “purity,” avoiding impurity in body, mind and speech.

Twenty Disciplines

The niyamas are: 1) hri, “remorse,” being modest and showing shame for misdeeds; 2) santosha, “contentment,” seeking joy and serenity in life; 3) dana, “giving,” tithing and giving generously without thought of reward; 4) astikya, “faith,” believing firmly in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment; 5) Ishvarapujana, “worship of the Lord,” the cultivation of devotion through daily worship and meditation; 6) siddhanta shravana, “scriptural listening,” studying the teachings and listening to the wise of one’s lineage; 7) mati, “cognition,” developing a spiritual will and intellect with the guru’s guidance; 8) vrata, “sacred vows,” fulfilling religious vows, rules and observances faithfully; 9) japa, “recitation,” chanting mantras daily; 10) tapas, “austerity,” performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice.

In comparing the yamas to the niyamas, we find the restraint of noninjury, ahimsa, makes it possible to practice hri, remorse. Truthfulness brings on the state of santosha, contentment. And the third yama, asteya, nonstealing, must be perfected before the third niyama, giving without any thought of reward, is even possible. Sexual purity brings faith in God, Gods and guru. Kshama, patience, is the foundation for Ishvarapujana, worship, as is dhriti, steadfastness, the foundation for siddhanta shravana. The yama of daya, compassion, definitely brings mati, cognition. Arjava, honesty — renouncing deception and all wrongdoing — is the foundation for vrata, taking sacred vows and faithfully fulfilling them. Mitahara, moderate appetite, is where yoga begins, and vegetarianism is essential before the practice of japa, recitation of holy mantras, can reap its true benefit in one’s life. Shaucha, purity in body, mind and speech, is the foundation and the protection for all austerities.

The twenty restraints and observances are the first two of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga, constituting Hinduism’s fundamental ethical code. Because it is brief, the entire code can be easily memorized and reviewed daily at the family meetings in each home. The yamas and niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. They are cited in numerous scriptures, including the Shandilya and Varaha Upanishads, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Gorakshanatha, the Tirumantiram of Rishi Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. All of these ancient texts list ten yamas and ten niyamas, with the exception of Patanjali’s classic work, which lists just five of each. Patanjali lists the yamas as: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha (noncovetousness); and the niyamas as: shaucha, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya (self-reflection, scriptural study) and Ishvarapranidhana (worship).

In the Hindu tradition, it is primarily the mother’s job to build character within the children, and thereby to continually improve society. Mothers can study and teach these guidelines to uplift their children as well as themselves. Each discipline focuses on a different aspect of human nature, its strengths and weaknesses. Taken as a sum total, they encompass the whole of human experience and spirituality. You may do well in upholding some of these but not so well in others. That is to be expected. That defines the sadhana, therefore, to be perfected.

Your Divine Chariot

The yamas and niyamas and their function in our life can be likened to a chariot pulled by ten horses. The passenger inside the chariot is your soul. The chariot itself represents your physical, astral and mental bodies. The driver of the chariot is your external ego, your personal will. The wheels are your divine energies. The niyamas, or spiritual practices, represent the spirited horses, named Hri, Santosha, Dana, Astikya, Ishvarapujana, Siddhanta Shravana, Mati, Vrata, Japa, and Tapas. The yamas, or restraints, are the reins, called Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Kshama, Dhriti, Daya, Arjava, Mitahara and Shaucha. By holding tight to the reins, the charioteer, your will, guides the strong horses so they can run forward swiftly and gallantly as a dynamic unit. So, as we restrain the lower, instinctive qualities through upholding the yamas, the soul moves forward to its destination in the state of santosha. Santosha, peace, is the eternal satisfaction of the soul. At the deepest level, the soul is always in the state of santosha. But outwardly, the propensity of the soul is to be clouded by lack of restraint of the instinctive nature, lack of restraint of the intellectual nature, lack of restraint of the emotional nature, lack of restraint of the physical body itself. Therefore, hold tight the reins.

It is important to realize that the yamas, restraints, are not out of the reach of the lowliest among us. No matter where we are in the scale of life, we all started from the beginning, at the bottom, didn’t we? This is our philosophy. This is our religion. This is the evolution of the soul. We improve, life after life, and these guidelines, yamas and niyamas, restraints and practices, are gifts from our rishis, from God Siva Himself through them, to allow us to judge ourself against these pillars of virtue as to how far we have progressed or strayed. In the early births, we are like children. We do not stray from anything. We run here and there and everywhere, disobey every rule, which when told of we cannot remember. We ignore any admonishment. As adolescents, we force our will on society, want to change it, because we don’t like the hold it has on us. Wanting to express themselves in most creative ways, rebellious youths separate themselves from other people, children and the adults. They do make changes, but not always for the best. As an adult, we see both — the past and the impending future of old age — and, heads down, we are concerned with accumulating enough to see life through to its uncertain end. When the accumulations have become adequate, we will look back at the undisciplined children, the headstrong, unruly adolescents and the self-possessed, concentrated adults and try to motivate all three groups. In our great religion, the Sanatana Dharma, known today as Hinduism, twenty precepts, the yamas and niyamas, restraints and observances, are the guidelines we use to motivate these three groups. These are the guidelines they use to motivate themselves, for each group is mystically independent of the others; so it seems.

Non injury

The first yama is ahimsa, noninjury. To practice ahimsa, one has to practice santosha, contentment. The sadhana is to seek joy and serenity in life, remaining content with what one has, knows, is doing and those with whom he associates. Bear your karma cheerfully. Live within your situation contentedly. Himsa, or injury, and the desire to harm, comes from discontent.

The rishis who revealed the principles of dharma or divine law in Hindu scripture knew full well the potential for human suffering and the path which could avert it. To them a one spiritual power flowed in and through all things in this universe, animate and inanimate, conferring existence by its presence. To them life was a coherent process leading all souls without exception to enlightenment, and no violence could be carried to the higher reaches of that ascent. These rishis were mystics whose revelation disclosed a cosmos in which all beings exist in interlaced dependence. The whole is contained in the part, and the part in the whole. Based on this cognition, they taught a philosophy of nondifference of self and other, asserting that in the final analysis we are not separate from the world and its manifest forms, nor from the Divine which shines forth in all things, all beings, all peoples. From this understanding of oneness arose the philosophical basis for the practice of noninjury and Hinduism’s ancient commitment to it.

We all know that Hindus, who are one-sixth of the human race today, believe in the existence of God everywhere, as an all-pervasive, self-effulgent energy and consciousness. This basic belief creates the attitude of sublime tolerance and acceptance toward others. Even tolerance is insufficient to describe the compassion and reverence the Hindu holds for the intrinsic sacredness within all things. Therefore, the actions of all Hindus are rendered benign, or ahimsa. One would not want to hurt something which one revered.

On the other hand, when the fundamentalists of any religion teach an unrelenting duality based on good and evil, man and nature or God and Devil, this creates friends and enemies. This belief is a sacrilege to Hindus, because they know that the attitudes which are the by-product are totally dualistic, and for good to triumph over that which is alien or evil, it must kill out that which is considered to be evil.

The Hindu looks at nothing as intrinsically evil. To him the ground is sacred. The sky is sacred. The sun is sacred. His wife is a Goddess. Her husband is a God. Their children are devas. Their home is a shrine. Life is a pilgrimage to mukti, or liberation from rebirth, which once attained is the end to reincarnation in a physical body. When on a holy pilgrimage, one would not want to hurt anyone along the way, knowing full well the experiences on this path are of one’s own creation, though maybe acted out through others.

Non injury for Renunciate’s

Ahimsa is the first and foremost virtue, presiding over truthfulness, nonstealing, sexual purity, patience, steadfastness, compassion, honesty and moderate appetite. The brahmachari and sannyasin must take ahimsa, noninjury, one step further. He has mutated himself, escalated himself, by stopping the abilities of being able to harm another by thought, word or deed, physically, mentally or emotionally. The one step further is that he must not harm his own self with his own thoughts, his own feelings, his own actions toward his own body, toward his own emotions, toward his own mind. This is very important to remember. And here, at this juncture, ahimsa has a tie with satya, truthfulness. The sannyasin must be totally truthful to himself, to his guru, to the Gods and to Lord Siva, who resides within him every minute of every hour of every day. But for him to truly know this and express it through his life and be a living religious example of the Sanatana Dharma, all tendencies toward himsa, injuriousness, must always be definitely harnessed in chains of steel. The mystical reason is this. Because of the brahmachari’s or sannyasin’s spiritual power, he really has more ability to hurt someone than he or that person may know, and therefore his observance of noninjury is even more vital. Yes, this is true. A brahmachari or sannyasin who does not live the highest level of ahimsa is not a brahmachari.

Words are expressions of thoughts, thoughts created from prana. Words coupled with thoughts backed up by the transmuted pranas, or the accumulated bank account of energies held back within the brahmachari and the sannyasin, become powerful thoughts, and when expressed through words go deep into the mind, creating impressions, samskaras, that last a long time, maybe forever. It is truly unfortunate if a brahmachari or sannyasin loses control of himself and betrays ahimsa by becoming himsa, an injurious person — unfortunate for those involved, but more unfortunate for himself. When we hurt another, we scar the inside of ourself; we clone the image. The scar would never leave the sannyasin until it left the person that he hurt. This is because the pranas, the transmuted energies, give so much force to the thought. Thus the words penetrate to the very core of the being. Therefore, angry people should get married and should not practice brahmacharya.

Truthfulness

The second yama is satya, truthfulness. It seems that little children are naturally truthful, open and honest. Their lives are uncomplicated, and they have no secrets. National studies show that children, even at an early age, learn to lie from their parents. They are taught to keep family secrets, whom to like, whom to dislike, whom to hate and whom to love, right within the home itself. Their minds become complicated and their judgments of what to say and what not to say are often influenced by the possibility of a punishment, perhaps a beating. Therefore, to fully encompass satya and incorporate it in one’s life as a teenager or an adult, it is quite necessary to dredge the subconscious mind and in some cases reject much of what mother or father, relatives and elders had placed into it at an early age. Only by rejecting the apparent opposites, likes and dislikes, hates and loves, can true truthfulness, which is a quality of the soul, burst forth again and be there in full force as it is within an innocent child. A child practices truthfulness without wisdom. Wisdom, which is the timely application of knowledge, guides truthfulness for the adult. To attain wisdom, the adult must be conversant with the soul nature.

What is it that keeps us from practicing truthfulness? Fear, mainly. Fear of discovery, fear of punishment or loss of status. This is the most honest untruthfulness. The next layer of untruthfulness would be the mischievous person willing to take a chance of not being caught and deliberately inventing stories about another, deliberately lying when the truth would do just as well. The third and worst layer is calculated deception and breaking of promises.

Satya is a restraint, and as one of the ten restraints it ranks in importance as number two. When we restrain our tendencies to deceive, to lie and break promises, our external life is uncomplicated, as is our subconscious mind. Honesty is the foundation of truth. It is ecologically, psychologically purifying. However, many people are not truthful with themselves, to themselves, let alone to others. And the calculated, subconscious built-in program of these clever, cunning, two-faced individuals keeps them in the inner worlds of darkness. To emerge from those worlds, the practice of truthfulness, satya, is in itself a healing and purifying sadhana.

What is breaking a promise? Breaking a promise is, for example, when someone confides in you, asks you to keep it to yourself and not to tell anyone, and then you tell. You have betrayed your promise. Confidences must be kept at all costs in the practice of satya.

There are certainly times when withholding the truth is permitted. The Tirukural, Weaver’s Wisdom, explains that “Even falsehood is of the nature of truth if it renders good results, free from fault” (292). An astrologer, for instance, while reviewing a chart would refrain from telling of a heartbreak that might come to a person at a certain time in his life. This is wisdom. In fact, astrologers are admonished by their gurus to hold back information that might be harmful or deeply discouraging. A doctor might not tell his patient that he will die in three days when he sees the vital signs weakening. Instead, he may encourage positive thinking, give hope, knowing that life is eternal and that to invoke fear might create depression and hopelessness in the mind of the ill person.

When pure truthfulness would injure or cause harm, then the first yama, ahimsa, would come into effect. You would not want to harm that person, even with the truth. But we must not look at this verse from the Tirukural as giving permission for deception. The spirit of the verse is wisdom, good judgment, not the subterfuge of telling someone you are going to Mumbai when your actual destination is Kalikot. That is not truthful. It would be much better to avoid answering the question at all in some way if one wanted to conceal the destination of his journey. This would be wisdom. You would not complicate your own subconscious mind by telling an untruth, nor be labeled deceptive in the mind of the informed person when he eventually discovers the actual truth.

Honesty with Your Guru

Some people use the excuse of truthfulness to nag their spouse about what they don’t like about him or her, or to gossip about other people’s flaws. This is not the spirit of satya. We do not want to expose others’ faults. Such confrontations could become argumentative and combative. No one knows one’s faults better than oneself. But fear and weakness often prevail, while motivation and a clear plan to correct the situation are absent. Therefore, to give a clear plan, a positive outlook, a new way of thinking, diverts the attention of the individual and allows internal healing to take place. This is wisdom. This is ahimsa, noninjury. This is satya, truthfulness. The wise devotee is careful to never insult or humiliate others, even under the pretext of telling the truth, which is an excuse that people sometimes use to tell others what they don’t like about them. Wise devotees realize that there is good and bad in everyone. There are emotional ups and downs, mental elations and depressions, encouragements and discouragements. Let’s focus on the positive. This is ahimsa and satya working together.

The brahmachari and the sannyasin must be absolutely truthful with their satguru. They must be absolutely diplomatic, wise and always accentuate the good qualities within the sannyasin and brahmachari communities. The guru has the right to discuss, rebuke or discipline the uncomely qualities in raising up the brahmachari and sannyasin. Only he has this right, because it was given to him by the brahmacharis and sannyasins when they took him as their satguru. This means that brahmacharis and sannyasins cannot discipline one another, psychoanalyze and correct in the name of truthfulness, without violation of the number one yama — ahimsa, noninjury.

Mothers and fathers have rights with their own children, as do gurus with their shishyas. These rights are limited according to wisdom. They are not all-inclusive and should not inhibit free will and well-rounded growth within an individual. This is why a guru is looked upon as the mother and father by the mother and father and by the disciple who is sent to the guru’s ashrama to study and learn. It is the guru’s responsibility to mold the aspirant into a solid member of the monastic community, just as it is the mother’s and father’s duty to mold the youth to be a responsible, looked-up-to member of the family community. This is how society progresses.

The practice, niyama, to strengthen one’s satya qualities is tapas, austerity — performing sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice. If you find you have not been truthful, if you have betrayed promises, then put yourself under the tapas sadhana. Perform a lengthy penance. Atone, repent, perform austerities. You will soon find that being truthful is much easier than what tapas and austerities will make you go through if you fail to restrain yourself.

Truthfulness is the fullness of truth. Truth itself is fullness. May fullness prevail, truth prevail, and the spirit of satya and ahimsa permeate humanity.

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Comments
  1. mike says:

    more to come

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