1. The true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. The state or character of being true.
5. Actuality or actual existence.
6. An obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7. Honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8. Ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience
9. Agreement with a standard or original.
10. Accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
I look at these definitions feeling unsatisfied. It’s all about perception. Today my daughter made a negative statement about her younger sister. I told her it was not nice to say such things. She replied with, “Well it’s the truth!” I explained, because it is your truth doesn’t mean it is true for everyone else. She thought for a moment, and continued on.
I was married briefly to a man who rarely told the truth. He wasn’t a bad man; he just had a hard time being honest with himself. In Yogic philosophy we practice Satya: the dedication to truth and integrity, in our thoughts, words, and actions, which gain the power to manifest. It was very difficult to enable my husband to live in a constant state of self-denial, never listening to the truth that lives in his own heart. Ultimately this was the root of our separation. When we are unable to truly listen to our hearts truth, desires, needs, then how are we to live fulfilling lives. This can sometimes even become the beginning of a person’s mental discontent, mental illness, and body’s diseases.
I have found my truth deep in my own heart, and often realize that the truth is often one’s own perception, experience, and opinion. In science and medicine the truth changes as we discover new things. We laugh now at the thought of falling off the edge of the world, but to many people this was an absolute truth. It wasn’t until the ancient Greeks began to assert that the Earth is spherical as far back as 570 BC when Pythagoras made the hypothesis. This was much later proven by Columbus in 1492. It took that long to prove this! This happens all the time in daily life. How often do we truly look deep within our self’s to discover the truth. Do we accept others opinions as truth? Can you feel the truth? Have you ever noticed your body’s physical response to reading, or listening to something that is not true? Or to a person who you “feel” is lying to you?
On the other hand, is telling someone the truth always the right thing to do? I can help but think about the famous speech from a Few Good Men by Jack Nicolson, “You can’t handle the truth!” The character in the movie was in search for personal gain, but his statement is often correct: not everyone wants to hear your truth. Sometimes the truth hurts us, makes us look at the things in ourselves we would rather ignore, or be out of the normal community truism, or just may not be true for you. And sometimes we often are afraid to tell the truth. What if our truth is not the truth of the authoritative figures in our lives? Or what if the truth hurts a loved one’s feelings?
I had been recently been asked to express my truth about an organization I have to work closely with. I had a range of emotions come up, and fear was the first. If I really said what I felt, and they had found out, then I may be denied by the program directors. But in my heart I was in direct conflict with the roots of origin. This was my truth, but may not be the opinion of many others who need the organization to move forward in their lives. I did speak my truth, but after reflection I wasn’t using the true principles of Satya. Swami Vivekananda has once said, “If in doubt whether to observe Ahimsa or Satya, always go with Ahimsa.” I later resolved that in the future, when such a question was asked, I would reserve my response after meditation. Satya is not just truth it is also integrity. When you speak the truth, do it with all the love in your heart. To tell the truth is never to gain power, or prove others wrong. We must first live the truth, and gradually learn to trust and accept our inner knowing allowing our heart and mind to remain open. This when the truth shines through us, and here there is no fear of the truth. We begin to know when the truth is ready to be heard.
I often joke with my class, “Yoga is a practice, if we were all masters we wouldn’t be here any longer.” In daily life what we practice is relative to what we know, learn and experience. Just like the truth, this practice is constantly changing but Satya is constant because it emerges from our hearts.