The Nullification of Truth (Part 1)

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Truth has often been a long time sufferer. Under dictatorships the comedians, journalists, artists, and educators, who are often some of the most poignant truth tellers, are first to disappear from the scene (along with whatever group of people is being scapegoated). We know that truth is often at stake in our personal lives as we do mental gymnastics to avoid or enhance certain details about ourselves. Partial truths are often advantageous.

Yet, when Patanjali reveals the 2nd restraint, he is clear. He does not say “non-lying”, he says “truthfulness”, a direct mandate to stop at nothing short of the full truth. I call this a “go all the way” yama. What is the difference between non-lying and truthfulness? This is an interesting question among many in a world where truth has become dangerously irrelevant.

Week One. I’m reminded of a cartoon where a little boy is in dialogue with his mother. The caption catches the little boy saying, “Suppose honesty isn’t going to work in this situation, what’s my next best option?”

Do you remember the first time you lied as a child? What were the repercussions, if any? What did you gain by lying, if anything? Who taught you to distinguish between truth and a lie? What is your current criteria for knowing “truth” in your personal life? In the world at large?

Week Two. Consider these words of Gandhi, “The seeker after Truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after Truth should be so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of Truth.”

This week watch your level of humility as you find your judgment, criticism, self-righteousness, animosity, and disgust rising in response to current events. What would it be like to be humble? What does your attempt at humility change?   Can you be both strong in speaking truth to power and humble in your recognition that truth is bigger than you know?

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