‘Truthfulness’ for Constant Remembrance magazine

19-11-87- NainitalQuite often truthfulness is understood as being truthful in speech alone. However, truthfulness in the right sense means the perfect integration of our three faculties, our mind, our speech and our action. Put differently, our speech or our action being at variance with the mind is untruthfulness. It is not just about “speaking the truth” but real truthfulness is “feeling” the truth as well.  If we express one thing through our speech or action and feel different inside our hearts then we are not being truthful. It’s somewhat akin to putting fancy packaging on a bad product. Therefore always our thought, speech and action must be in concurrence and in harmony with each other.
In the Hindu scriptures, Truth is defined as “That which is unchangeable”, “That which has no distortion”, “That which is beyond distinctions of time, space, and person”, and “That which pervades the universe in all its constancy”. There are numerous references and explanations of truth by ancient sages that elucidates various facets of truth, for instance, “Satyam eva jayate”(Truth alone wins), “Satyam muktaye” (Truth liberates),  ‘Parahit’artham’ va’unmanaso yatha’rthatvam’ satyam (Truth is the benevolent use of words and the mind for the welfare of others, “When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him (Patanjali Yogasutras, sutra number 2.36)
Truthfulness encompasses in itself various qualities like honesty, reliability, faithfulness, trust worthiness, fairness and justice etc. among the other higher forms of values. For example if we take just one of them, honesty, is to be truthful at all planes of consciousness: physical, mental as well as psychological. Truthfulness necessitates unfailingly speaking the truth and honesty brings in the ability to be ever sincere, never lying, cheating or taking unfair advantage etc. It also leads one towards a life of high level of integrity and trustworthiness.  As these are quite similar, it helps to turn to their subtle nuances. Doing good to others through thought, word and deed comes due to the righteousness, compassion and truthfulness in our heart. For instance, a greedy heart cannot bring about happiness and welfare to others. As truthfulness is a product of a heart only that is free from selfishness, avarice and anger etc. it is important to remember that our outward reactions always come from our inner guidance alone. Therefore it becomes imperative to be truthful at all times to maintain the purity of one’s thoughts.
However at times speaking only the precise factual truth or revealing the truth of things can be a difficult task. It calls for a great objectivity as well as neutrality because the mind distorts the truth for a variety of reasons and in a numerous methods. Often people avoid truth out of fear of the powerful, to hide their inabilities, failures, faults, to protect themselves or in order to gain by dishonesty. Another common cause of untruthfulness is unwillingness to take action or express the truth of things due to inertia. More serious causes are deception, jealousy, wanting to harm another, weakness of moral fiber, etc. In addition to this there are innumerable motivations that cause people to consciously exaggerate, distort and lie. Exaggeration and distortion is used to gain self importance, conscious lying is to rejoice from a trouble caused to others by a lie, lying in order to manipulate or exploit a situation etc. If one has any of these negative traits first one must identify the source and ways to vanquish these tendencies. By concerted efforts life can be reorganized by practicing the values of Truthfulness.
In the present-day world many have the wrong notion that if one practices a life of complete honesty one would someway lose in business and in material life. The truth is, not being fully honest and truthful blocks the divine energy flow into one’s work and life. Though practicing truthfulness in all aspects of life often requires a lot of courage, psychological strength, endurance and efforts, all endeavors are rewarded in some way by life thereafter.
Truthfulness has one limitation that has to be always kept in mind while practicing truthfulness in speech. One must be responsible, cautious and take into the consideration, the maturity of the listener before speaking truth. Some truth if not presented with prudence and discretion can create a shock, sorrow or turn a person violent.  Another example of truthfulness where a serious trouble may arise is when someone though speaking truth begins to voice one’s immoral or destructive thoughts polluting others.  So truthfulness, now we see, is not merely accord between mind and speech. It means voicing good thoughts that are beneficial and valuable to the society in a pleasant way. Elegant sweet words are not most important even if they are required the most important is truthfulness, being in harmony with oneself and all expressions emerging from a truthful heart.
By understanding the right meaning of  truthfulness and applying it systematically in the daily life it is possible to triumph over bad habits of dishonesty, deception, jealousy, desire to harm, etc. and achieve a complete truthful life that will reward by bringing in positive responses and results in everything.  Truthfulness can eliminate most of the obstacles in our life path, bring long-lasting accomplishments and is a fundamental means through which our spiritual goal can be attained. In simple words, a peaceful heart is the best reward of truthfulness.
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