Sutra Sunday: I cannot tell a lie

This Sunday I discuss Satya, truthfulness, one of the yamas in yoga.

सत्यप्रतिष्थायं क्रियाफलाश्रयत्वम् 

satya-pratiṣthāyaṁ kriyā-phala-āśrayatvam 

Once a state of truth (satya) has been permanently established, each statement will form the basis for a truthful result. 

Telling the truth, I mean really telling the truth all the time, is difficult.  Period.  There are big lies and small lies and white lies and black ones.  There are intentional lies and lies of omission.  We lie to our parents, our teachers, our colleagues and friends.  We lie to ourselves.  In the end, they are all equal.  They are all the opposite of truth.

This past week, I missed an interview.  My mom came to ask me about my day.  It was 5 o’clock and I suddenly remembered that I had an interview at 2.  I had missed it and there was nothing I could do.  I decided to send an email of apology asking if it were possible to reschedule.  I wanted to lie.  I wanted to make up a story about my car or a family emergency.  I wanted to say anything other than, I forgot.  I wanted to… but I didn’t.

As a yoga practitioner, I would have felt icky walking into an interview for a yoga teaching job based on a lie.  It would have felt icky to write it.  So, I wrote him a cleaned up truth explaining that I had not put it in my calendar correctly.  In the end this might have hurt me, he might not want to reschedule with someone who is not well-organized enough to get to an interview.  It might have hurt me, but I did everything I could.  I acknowledged my wrong doing while still holding to satya.

It wasn’t easy.  It made me angry as I was writing the email that I could not make myself type a lie.  I so wanted to cover my ass and get a second interview.  Not because I so desperately wanted the job, but because I do not like to make mistakes.  To me, satya is most difficult when facing my mistakes.  It is then that I struggle the most, but when I come out on the side of truth it is there I reach the most growth.

Telling lies has never come easy for me, though whenever I did decide to tell one, I was fairly good at the deception.  It always made me feel disgusting and in the end I never really gained anything.  I usually ended up telling the truth, even years later.  Now it is just easier to tell the truth and face the consequences.  It is faster.  I do not always tell the truth, as sometimes I do not want to face the consequences.  When I do tell the truth, though, I do not need to waste my time worrying about being found out.  The damage is done.

That is the beauty of satya.  Truthfulness will start to set you free from a self-imposed prison.  Truthfulness lightens the load of worry.  When paired with the first yama, ahimsa/non-harming (to be discussed in another addition of Sutra Sunday), satya has deep power.  You will start to see that there was no need to lie in the first place.  Whatever happened does not change because you told a different story and most people will be able to accept the truth.  If they cannot, you accept the consequences, which you most likely would have accepted either way.

Try for one week to be conscious of the lies you tell, big or small.  Notice where you omit information in order to avoid lying or telling the truth.  Try for that one week to focus on satya, on telling the truth.  As long as your truth will not cause harm to another, go ahead and tell it.  How does it feel to be free from the shackles of lies?


2 thoughts on “Sutra Sunday: I cannot tell a lie

  1. Beautiful words, Jennifer. I, too, hate making mistakes and it is often easier to lie than tell the truth…I screwed up (even typing that makes me cringe). I find the more I DO tell the truth, the happier I am afterwards. If might be easier to fib and say my car broke down, but then I know I have lied and it sticks with me like a piece of gum on my shoe. Always pulling at me, but leaving little pieces of that guilt on the ground everywhere I go until it is eventually gone from me but still in the universe.

    Can’t wait to read about Ahimsa. Thank you for this :).

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