|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 220 ]
In the majority of societies today, outright, blatant lying is still regarded as reprehensible. But there are many variations of untruthful speech and action which, though they may also be frowned upon to one degree or another, are entirely socially acceptable in usual life.
<< Read Satya - Truth
Besides a straightforward lie, one may 'bend the truth' or carefully craft a misleading image in order to avoid an unpleasant result. People also do this to put them self in a more favourable position.
The reality is that deception is the motivation behind every untruth, be it thought, word or action, no matter how well justified or cleverly hidden it may be.
There is often the temptation or tendency to try and justify an untruth as well. This act is a dangerous ploy of the ego that we have to be very careful of. When we also begin to lie to ourselves, then the truth becomes even more clouded. Just as we must not deceive others, we must also not deceive ourselves.
Why is truthfulness essential to the yogic life? It's because all untruthfulness invariably creates unnecessary complications in life, ultimately becoming a constant source of mental disharmony.
A foolish person uses untruth as the easiest and simplest means to avoid an unpleasant result, or a difficult or undesirable situation. But he/she lacks the clarity to see that avoidance in this manner only creates further complications.
Careful scrutiny reveals that one lie usually requires a series of additional deceits in order to maintain it, leading to all manner of additional worries and troubles.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive"
~ Sir Walter Scott
The one under the stress of deceit invariably loses the ability to discern right from wrong, good from bad, beneficial from harmful -- getting caught in the mental trap of self-serving justifications for their deceptive behaviour, which ultimately leads to disharmony in all of their relationships.
The habitual bending of the truth and distorting of the facts causes one to ultimately lose the ability to even distinguish truth from fiction.
Beyond a harmonious material life, a foundation of truth is essential for the unfoldment of the buddhi (or higher intellect), which is the yoga sadhak's ultimate guide to spiritual understanding. As I.K. Taimni aptly states in his book, The Science of Yoga:
"There is nothing which clouds the intuition [Buddhi] and practically stops its functioning in this manner as untruthfulness in all its forms. A person who starts practicing yoga without first acquiring the virtue of utter truthfulness is like a man going for an exploration in a jungle at night without any light. He has nothing to guide him in his difficulties and the illusions created by the Brothers of the Shadow are sure to lead him astray."
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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