Truth and truthfulness are at the heart of the Indian tradition, and are the life pulse of yoga, the practical school of this broader philosophical tradition.
When there is establishment in satya - truthfulness - there is concomitance of action and its fruit. So it is said in the Yoga Sūtra. The more one is established in truthfulness, the more reliable one becomes. What one says comes to realisation. One’s actions bring the intended fruit.
In other words, the more one practices truthfulness, the more one becomes established in authenticity, and real authority.
Further, the more we practice and attune to truthfulness, the easier it becomes to discern the false note, and to catch ourselves if we stray from authenticity and truth. The more we orient to truth, the deeper our lived, embodied commitment to it, the closer we gravitate to it. The more we practice truthfulness, the more we enter into ‘confidence’ with it. Truth becomes our friend, our companion. We join ourselves more keenly to the indestructible.
So what then of some of our current so called ‘leaders’?
What of the politician whose daily practice is duplicity? Though really that’s not the way to say it, is it? Because there are so many more than two ‘versions’ of the stories so many of these politicos spin to the public.
What of the person who makes a habit of lying?
Such a person becomes estranged from the truth.
A person who abandons truth, is in turn abandoned by truth and abandoned by genuine authority. Hence the proclivity of so many false leaders to cling more and more to tyrannical imposition and ‘authoritarianism’; to use a dark-shirted, uniformed, faceless mass as the instrument of its armour against its own fragility. Because the elaborate lies are always only a house of cards. They will fall down when the storm of truth blows through. Or, to use a metaphor from the Mahābhārata, the ways of deception are a house of lac, and, irresistibly, inevitably, they will be razed and exposed as the falsehood they are when the fire of truth catches and ashes their intricate deceit.
Still, when we look around, and when we are exposed to the messages spun by these false leaders, it can seem that we are abiding in this house of lac, what to do?
‘What can we do?’ Some might say, throwing their hands in the air.
There is a telling proverb in Sanskṛt: that the sovereign shapes the time, not the other way around. The time, the zeitgeist, the contemporary trends will always exert a certain influence. But the genuine sovereign acts from a deeper, more perennial place, orients from a truer compass, draws succour from a truer source.
So what can we do, when we look around and see so-called leaders who are trapped in delusion, whose daily practice is deceit, of whom we might genuinely wonder whether they may even still be able to recognise truth?
What to do? What yoga has enjoined us to do for millennia.
Reclaim our own sovereignty. Build and rebuild our self-trust. Recalibrate, rehabilitate, reclaim our connection to conscience.
This is possible, yoga tells us.
Though the zeitgeist might tell us it’s impossible.
Yoga reminds us, this requires courage, persistence, consistency, constancy. Again and again, we make and renew the simple, honest effort, wherever we are. This can seem hard, but just a little effort in this direction brings affirming results. This practice is its own reward. It is a self-propelling system, provided we keep at it.
Reclaiming our sovereignty. It’s what this yoga is for.