Growing up, I remember my father asking me whether we had finished all of our homework. I hated science, so I used to lie about doing it, and never studied for the tests. When the exam came back with a low test grade, my father, who was suspicious, asked whether I had studied, but I kept to my silence. Even with my academy award winning poker face, my lies were very transparent to him. Frightened by the wrath of my father, I was never able to confess to the truth.
No matter how much we lie — even a simple white lie — the truth always reveals itself. As we can not stop the sun from rising or the moon from shining, it is impossible to hide our lies. The truth always surfaces no matter how much we try to cover it up. While it’s obvious that lying to others is unhealthy and harmful, the most destructive lie is when we lie to ourselves — a betrayal of who we are by shooting ourselves in the foot. By compromising our values, integrity, passions, and dreams, we have betrayed our soul’s purpose, which then creates stress, chaos and sense of being lost. When we become our own worst enemy by such a compromise, it has deep rippling effects in our lives. We start to make bad choices by taking on jobs and careers that are unfulfilling or entering into unhealthy relationships that inevitably end up in divorce. Ultimately, these bad decisions derail us from our true calling — the only path to a meaningful life. During her battle with cancer, I remember my sister Sun telling me that she wished she had pursued her dream of becoming a classical pianist, instead of working in the stressful fashion industry. At the end of her life, she felt a sense of self betrayal for staying in fashion only for the high income, a material gain that never brought any happiness into her life. While the truth is in our core Being, which aligns us to our purpose, it is not always apparent, so we must turn inward to find it within ourselves. As Gandhi said, “Truth is within ourselves. There is an inmost centre in us all, where Truth abides in fullness. Every wrong-doer knows within himself that he is doing wrong for untruth cannot be mistaken for Truth. The law of Truth is merely understood to mean that we must speak the truth. But we understand the word in much wider sense. There should be Truth in thought, Truth in speech, and Truth in action.”
Another way that we lie to ourselves, which becomes a reason for our demise, is our ability to fabricate our own truths in our minds. In criminals, they must distort the truth to justify their nefarious behavior, so by creating an artificial reality for themselves, they believe they can get away with the crime, which is why they do it in the first place. So lying to ourselves not only has a way of steering our lives into the wrong direction, a path to criminal activities, but also a way to justify our heinous actions on others. Like the laws of gravity that govern our physical world, the truth is the law that governs our spiritual realm providing harmony and balance — the yin and yang — to the Universe, so truth can not be manipulated or eviscerated. So even if someone, who is guilty, is found innocent in the human court of law, the spiritual law of truth will make its own judgement in its own time. Regardless of what you may believe in, whether there is a hell or heaven in the afterlife, truth follows the laws of cause-and-effect, so for every action, there will be a consequence because the Universe is always looking to bring balance.
We also lie to ourselves through denial — a defense mechanism which protects us from facing the painful truth. I think most of us have lived in some level of denial as a protective shield, especially to provide hope in dire situations is understandable, but it can have deeply harmful effects when it is taken too far. When a mother chooses to look the other way when her child is being sexually abused by the step father, her denial can have irreversible consequences, perhaps crippling her child for the rest of his/her life. Denial is the highest form of betrayal to ourselves because we are turning our backs on everything we know is true. Denial also makes us a coward because it robs us of our courage to face and deal with the truth. In my experience with people in denial, they are like a bomb ready to go off any minute, so I always feel like I’m skating on thin ice with them. My communications with them are superficial because any words of truth can potentially set them off. Because it is difficult to build any genuine, long-lasting relationship with them, people in denial are abandoning themselves from loved ones and friends who truly care about them.
The best way to access the truth within ourselves is through silence in prayer and meditation. Gandhi said, “silence is a great help to a seeker after Truth like myself. In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in clear light, and what is elusive and deceptive, resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is along arduous quest after Truth, and the Soul requires inward restfulness to attain its full height. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech. He will measure every word.” Silence in deep prayer or meditation opens our hearts revealing to our soul the answers to the most complex problems and questions. When we tap into the truth, we are one with God, an omnipresent force which guides us to our true Being and frees us from our bondage of unhappiness.
Each day when we wake up and see our reflection of a truthful life in the mirror, we know that no matter what happens, we can still find freedom of mind and and bask in the light of peace and serenity. Gandhi encouraged us all to seek the truth: “How beautiful it would be if all of us young and old, men and women, devoted ourselves wholly to Truth in all that we might do, in our waking hours, whether working, eating, drinking, or playing till pure dreamless sleep claimed us for her own. God as Truth has been for me a treasure beyond price. May he be so to everyone of us!” Make truth your treasure beyond price so you may find your own happiness beyond price.
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living