I am intrigued that the restraint here is a restraint to stop at anything short of the full truth. This is a significant leap from the tendency to land in a partial truth and be satisfied. If we begin in the internal landscape, it becomes clear that there are three of us that live here. One is a grand image of ourselves that marches out into the public a good deal ahead of us. Another is our shadow piece that gets denied, projected, and all-around ignored. And last is the real us, a uniquely cultured and gifted creature, part beast and part divine. Perhaps most of our dishonesty shows up in our love affair with our image. This yama is in part a restraint from giving allegiance to this image.
I had an interesting experience in the middle of a long meditation. It was as if all of a sudden the repressed parts of myself emerged from a dungeon deep within me and paraded in front of me one by one. These were all the things I regretted, some so distasteful I had refused to acknowledge them even to myself. In short, they were all the things I pretended weren’t part of me. For instance I saw cancer take the life of my young, vibrant sister-in-law and myself too lost in my own life to really be present to her. Other omissions paraded in front of me as well as acts of unkindness, lies, greed, jealousy, anger, and harm to others….all times when I bulldozed everyone around me in favor of my own perceived needs. It took all the courage I had to sit there and really see and acknowledge this part of myself. This went on for what seemed an excruciatingly long period of time. When it was over, I knew I had been changed. It wasn’t that these things were gone from my life or that they had become purified and I was now angelic. It was more like they became integrated into me. Pretending to be my image lost its firm grip on me and I could feel myself become a more authentic, compassionate being.
Because of this experience I think truthfulness asks a fierce “seeing” of ourselves and the world at large. When we give our allegiance to the way we wish things were, we stay stuck in expectations, sensory perceptions, conditioning, ideals, and paths to improvement. We hold on to the very things that limit us and keep us in partial truth telling. We hold on to the very things that prevent the harmony and happiness we are seeking.
Much like my meditation experience, I think the imbalances of our world are longing to be fully seen and acknowledged. Much as our breath, our nervous systems, the vitality of our bodies, the mental clarity and focus of our minds are all disturbed, so is the balance of the planet and the systems that run it. Our planet is disturbed. We all know this, but we haven’t really told ourselves the truth about it.
Joel Kramer has a quote I have come to love, “The seeing is the movement.” It is seeing the truth that breathes space into reality and opens up the possibility for something new to occur. This is hopeful to me.