By Suma Varughese February 2009 The path of truth is wrenchingly hard, and often sends you freewheeling out of the clutches of conventional society into the great unknown. but only in its company will you find courage, strength, joy, and the ultimate truth. Truth warriorsThe great Greek philosopher (469 BC-399 BC) was condemned by the people of Athens to death on the charge of corrupting the young, because of his habit of dialoguing with them on matters of ethics and truth. He had earlier angered the prominent citizens of Athens when the Oracle deemed him to be the wisest man in Athens. Since he knew that he was not wise, he set out to quiz all the wise people of Athens hoping to prove the Oracle wrong. He discovered, however, that though they considered themselves to be very wise, they knew very little. And in point of fact, he was the wisest, because at least he knew he did not know! Socrates accepted the death sentence even though he knew he could circumvent it because he felt that no philosopher should be afraid of death. And indeed he faced his own death with laudable fortitude, drinking up the hemlock speedily even when his followers pleaded that he postpone it. One of his last words to his followers was as follows: “The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways – I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.” Galileo This astronomer was known for several revolutionary discoveries including the four moons of Jupiter. However, when he supported Copernicus’s theory that the earth moved around the sun and not vice versa, he incurred the disapproval of the Church, and had to spend the rest of his life under house arrest.Jesus Christ The most renowned truth warrior, Jesus Christ, set out in the course of his ministry to re-establish the Truth of life among his people. Incurring the wrath of the priest and other Establishment figures whose piety he questioned, and whose authority he challenged, he was crucified to death. Shortly after I had a spiritual awakening, I decided to embark on the process of self-transformation. I like to believe that I was guided from within on how to achieve this task. And one of the clearest insights I received was the importance of adhering to the path of truth. Indeed, the image that flashed in my mind was to hold on to truth like a lifeline as I walked through the universal fog of maya. As long as I held on to it, I was safe. But woe betide me if I let go, for maya would then ensnare me in her clutches, and who knows how and when I would ever emerge out of it? ANITA ANAND Healing through sharing the truth withself and with others This graphic image has served me well all through these years, especially as I saw many people topple off the path and disappear into limbo. One got entangled in a dispute with her family and for close to three years went off the spiritual map as she skydived into a miasma of self-pity and victimhood. Another refused to take responsibility for the issues that compelled him to resign from his job, and spent several years unable to reconcile to his lost status. Before I go further, however, let me define truth. Truth, according to me, is the reality of things. This would mean outward reality as well as inward reality. The reality of who you are moment to moment, the reality of life, of human nature, of your relationships. Such reality is not easy to perceive, and therefore the pursuit of truth has been both a path and a goal for me. The truth withinOnce, however, you perceived this reality to the extent that you did, you were obliged to practice it. For instance, one of my first acts on the path was to really see myself as I was. I was aghast. So absent-minded, so unaware, so forgetful, so unfocussed, disorganised and so on. I was then hot on the heels of greatness, and it was a dispiriting discovery to make that I probably would not even qualify for the task of a peon in a government office. HARVINDER-KAUR Honesty and truthfulness became ways oftesting my own courage and resilience Uncomfortable as it was, I had to grapple with it, and what was more, announce it to the world. I was clearly given to understand that unless I acknowledged it both to myself and others, I would not be able to begin the task of healing. Following truth means the willingness to dismantle the false layers of identity with which we clothe ourselves, and reveal ourselves for who we are, warts and all.The more I did it, the less difficult it was for me to accept this reality of myself, and the more I accepted myself, the more I healed. I will not disguise the fact that it was a long and very hard journey for I was also burdened with low self-esteem. This caused me to beat up on myself rather than move forward, and that too was something I had to dissolve through acknowledgements within and without. Later on, I discovered that the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step programme (one of the most genuinely revolutionary self-help programmes in the world), echoes this process too. Step 4 says: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Step 5: “Admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Mahatma Gandhi, too, in the most celebrated truth journal ever written – his autobiography, aptly called, My Experiments with Truth, has no hesitation in recounting his weaknesses and misdemeanours, from lusting after his young wife while massaging his dying father’s legs, to stealing some gold to finance his undercover meat-eating. He says in the preface to his autobiography, “As long as I have not realised this Absolute Truth, so long must I hold by the relative truth as I have conceived it. That relative truth must, meanwhile, be my beacon, my shield and buckler. Though this path is strait and narrow as the razor’s edge, for me it has been the quickest and easiest… The path has saved me from coming to grief, and I have gone forward according to my light.” AKBER AYUB “Truth nourishes my mind, my intellect,my heart, and my spirit The truth withoutPenetrating and revealing our inner reality enables us to penetrate and recognise the external reality of life too. The more we understand ourselves, the more we understand others, for it is the same mind and same human nature that exists in us all. And through our persistent examination of our life, our conduct, motivation, actions, successes and failures, we begin to penetrate the truths of life too. We understand the futility of trying to control life or others and the delight of letting go. We discover the key role of motivation in governing the consequences of our action. Truths reveal themselves to us and as we adapt ourselves to the revelation, we are led to a fresh truth. “I do not ask to see the distant scene One step enough for me,” sang Cardinal Newman in the immortal song, Lead Kindly Light. Truth, another synonym for light, also leads us on step by step until we reach the golden shore.With truth as our celestial guide, everything falls into place. We no longer thrash about in confusion about how to act or what to say. Truth and truth alone is the way. Telling lies, no matter how small, is abhorrent. Dinaz Dastur, a Mumbai-based healer and seeker, says that she finds it impossible to utter falsehoods such as telling callers that her husband is not at home when he actually is. I, too, find such falsehoods unnecessary and often drill those around me to adhere to these rules. Not too many oblige but a year ago I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from a young woman who had worked with Life Positive in the capacity of a marketing person, several years ago. She thanked me for having taken her to task for her casual fibs, and told me that it inspired her to always speak the truth. That one practice, she said, had changed her life completely. “I am no longer afraid because I have nothing to fear,” she said. When confronting moral dilemmas, the path of truth tells us what to do. Harvinder Kaur, principal of RBK International Academy, Mumbai, considers herself to have been an experimenter of truth from her childhood. She recalls, “Honesty and truthfulness became ways of testing my own courage and resilience. I remember when I was sitting for my tenth class board exam, while running very high fever, there was mass cheating going on around me; the invigilator was wondering why I didn’t take advantage. I just didn’t want to. I could have gained by it, but didn’t – it just didn’t seem to be worth it. I also never bore any grudges against those who did, it didn’t matter to me.”On the pathFor anyone on the path, truth is inseparable from life. Says writer and marine engineer, Akber Ayub, “Truth nourishes my mind, my intellect, my heart and my spirit. For me it’s like water on a parched throat. Every cell in my body has been hankering for Truth ever since I consciously set foot on this path. It’s what you seek so that you can live and breathe… so that your life is not disintegrated by sham and pretext… but, suffused with the goodness of truth, is integrated as a whole.” Writer and teacher Arun Ganapathy has a daunting definition of truth, “Walking in truth means to be consistent with your thoughts and feelings, what you said and promised. Somebody offers you chocolate and you say you don’t eat them. But three months after that, you do pop a chocolate or sweet in. The statement you made earlier is false. A truer statement would have been, ‘I generally don’t eat them.’” At the same time, the path of truth cannot be a rigid conformity to facts at any cost. If a woman ran in to escape a rapist, it would be a crime to betray her to the rapist by telling him the truth about her prese
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