Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Truth and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Humans just want to be happy! At least that’s what the advertising world out there is trying to convince of. Unless one is happy one is nothing. Nothing will be good enough, fun enough, important enough. There’s therapy to help you get happy. There are pills. There are apparently limitless possessions that if you just had this car, this perfectly white smile, that body weight, those shoes, and don’t forget the house, the perfect mate….you’d be happy.

With that goal in mind we humans are generally willing to do anything to get there. The problem is that happiness is not what we generally think it is. We have mistaken happiness with self gratification, personal self absorption and ego enhancement. It’s no wonder we have a hard time finding happiness and when we do find it, we don’t even recognize it.  Meanwhile, in the pursuit of happiness we are willing to do all sorts of things that we would never want to be accused of doing…

Like making up stories, or bending the truth to various degrees.
Like deceiving and manipulating others.
Like bashing others with complete disregard.
Like compromising our own values.

Truth is regarded as sacred in yoga philosophy (and in every spiritual teaching there is). It is so because truth alone leads to liberation. One must be brave enough, honest and strong to look at and accept the truth of the moment, the truth of the matter, The Truth. Unless there is a total recognition of the way things are without judgment, without manipulation, without wishful thinking, aversion or grasping, without resistance, there will be no happiness. Happiness is built on sincerity, authenticity, honesty and, if I may add – creativity.

Truth leads to happiness, we are promised, because truth leads to liberation and liberated beings are happy, joyful beings. They are at ease with whatever comes…however pleasant, unpleasant or neutral it may be to the rest of us. What the ancient teachings insist is that we must be truthful in speech, in thought and in action.

Most of us think we are truthful…for the most part. Are we truthful in all three ways? Do we notice when we are untruthful? Do we sometimes choose not to be truthful because we think that, that which we want can be here faster if we can just make the right impression, convince enough people, or take a shortcut. 

For example, if I am seeking people’s approval and recognition, wishing to see my yoga studio grow and prosper, I could simply start making inflated statements about myself and the Holistic Movement Center, in essence trying to manipulate people’s opinion,  saying things like: I am the best yoga teacher and the Holistic Movement Center is the most comprehensive yoga studio around. Perhaps a better way of expressing myself objectively and truthfully, would be to say that I have more than 20,000 hours of teaching experience which span over a decade. I can also say that the Holistic Movement Center has been serving the community since 2002 and that we offer several classes per day, 7 days per week. It does not sound nearly as glamorous as saying “we are the best, the greatest, the most” but it gives people useful information without subjectivity and without crossing the lines of fact and truth.

It’s worth examining our relationship to the truth. What makes us stretch it? What makes us honor it? When do we feel like stretching it and why? When do we justify a lie?

We live in a society and generally, the workings of a society and the cohesiveness of a community is strongly dependent on its members relaying on the truthfulness of others. If that’s not the case, than structures break down, systems don’t work, and folks live with doubt. Doubt erodes relationships. Doubt destroys trust and leads to unhappiness. “Unhappiness leads to hatred” – says the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

“When the practitioner/seeker is truly established in the practice of truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization.” – wrote Patanjali some 2100-2500 years ago.

May we all aspire to live by his words today…

Valentina Petrova (RYT500) has been the owner of the  Holistic Movement Centre- Yoga & Wellness SPA in Morro Bay since 2002. She’s the host of “Yoga for Life” TV program on Ch. 2, a Reiki Master and a personal life adviser. Call 805-909-1401, or visit the web at www.holisticmovementcenter.com for more information.