The second Yama is Satya, translated from Sanskrit as Truthfulness.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr Seuss
Many of us think of truth as simply not lying to our spouse when she asks what happened to that last piece of candy. However, truthfulness is much more.
Here’s a story that demonstrates how not leading a truthful life can cause us stress and anxiety—and it creates a more complicated existence.
While working as a civilian engineer with the Army, I was chatting with my commanding officer, Colonel Withers, in his office. We were discussing an ongoing clean-up project from a chemical spill which had occurred several months previously. I asked him how he would like me to handle the progress reporting with Headquarters. He said, “wait a minute.” He then reached into his lower left cabinet drawer, reached all the way to the back and pulled out a file. All the while muttering “check what I had told General Kaplan about it.” I asked “what’s that file?” He exclaimed, completely straight-faced, “Oh, that’s my ‘lie file.’ Whenever I tell my superiors a lie, I write it down with the date and file it here so I don’t lose track.” Wow, that is an extreme system for logging lies. But many of us struggle with a similar mental burden, keeping a file of our fibs in our head.
This also applies to more subtle acts of non-truthfulness. Do we put on airs, do we project an attitude, do we allow a misunderstanding to linger? Knowingly providing a false impression is also being untruthful. Living without expressing only truth is exhausting–like an actor keeping the disguises straight for each performance. Isn’t it easier to just tell the truth and conduct yourself authentically? Truthfulness includes being authentic within our life; that is, being true to ourselves.