To Speak Only the Truth

To speak only the precise factual Truth is an extremely difficult task requiring a great objectivity. The mind distorts the truth for a variety of reasons and in a variety of methods. It has been said that if one were required to speak only the absolute Truth, he would not be able to speak at all, since man’s mind almost always distorts facts.

The mind is so trained in the ways of falsehood that even given the qualities of mental honesty, a clear memory and all of the best intentions, facts will not be reported accurately. One experiment can be made by reading a paragraph from the newspaper and attempting to report it aloud to a friend. One will see that even with the paper in front of his very eyes, he is not able to report exactly what is said.

The best place to observe this process is in conversation with friends. Here all the unconscious, subconscious and conscious tricks of the mind will be used to distort or twist the truth to meet one’s own needs. There are various levels of motivation in the mind for dishonest speech and they can be listed in a grade as follows:

  1. Arising from IGNORANCE
    • When the mind is not developed enough to retain more than one central fact, anything more spills over. For example, a servant is told to go and bring someone "if they are free." The servant goes and tells the person to come. If that person comes and says, "Why did you bother me, I am busy," you will understand that the servant heard only your command to bring the person and not the added condition.
    • When the mind is unfamiliar with the fact and calls it by another name which is familiar. You may tell a villager that this machine is called a tape recorder. It is nothing he has never seen before. He will promptly go and tell his friend that it is a radio.
  2. Arising from LAZINESS
    • The mind is lazy and even while knowing the difference between two words, uses the incorrect one out of convenience. For instance, a cheque is not a draft. There is a clear distinction between the two. If someone is used to using the word "cheque" he will consistently use it when speaking of either cheque or draft, even though when questioned he will definitely know which is which.
  3. Arising from IMAGINATION
    • One sees an incident and in the reporting of it adds another extra dimension to it. For example, a boy observes that posts are being driven into the side of the road as they do when someone important such as a minister comes to visit the town. He will go home and report that the Prime Minister is coming to Pondicherry.
  4. Arising from SUBCONSCIOUS distortion
    • There may be a subconscious desire to bring about a certain situation. All the speech used will be motivated by this desire and subtly distorted for this end. For example, a man is working in a factory. He is clumsy, unskilled and unsuited for the job. Each day the factory manager yells at him and threatens to fire him if he does not improve his work. Each night the man goes home to his wife. He has a tremendous desire to keep his wife from knowing about his inadequacy and wants her to respect him. Each night he reports about the terrible meanness of his manager, the unwarranted hardness with which he speaks to the factory men, and generally portrays the manager as an evil man, making sure that no reference is made to his own faults. He subtly leaves out the truth of the matter which is that he is a failure in his job. And he even tells his wife (in anticipation of his being fired), that if this situation goes on any longer, he is thinking of quitting because he cannot stand to work under such a man.
  5. Arising from CONSCIOUS Distortion or Dishonesty
    • Under this category there are hundreds of motivations that cause man to consciously exaggerate, distort and lie. Here some of the more frequent and obvious ones can be mentioned.

    • Exaggeration and distortion in order to seem important. Two friends meet after some time. One man has been working very hard, around 10 hours a day, but when reporting to his friend, cannot check the impulse to say, "I have been working like a slave, at least 16 hours a day."
    • Someone is sitting alone in a room for two hours. A friend later asks him, "Were you meditating?" Even though he was not, he knows that the friend would be impressed if he were. Before he is aware, out comes, "Yes."
    • Conscious lying in order to take joy in the disturbance or intensity which arises from the lie. A child knows that his mother is sensitive to criticism. He deliberately goes and tells her that a friend has spoken badly about her.
    • Lying in order to bring about a certain known reaction from the hearer. A child knows that in the past he has received much praise from his father for his excellence in sports. He makes up a story that he has won the first place in a school sports competition.
    • Lying out of jealousy or spite.
    • Lying out of intention to harm another person.

Qualities that are required for truthful speech are mental honesty, impartiality, objectivity, the ability to witness an event without personal involvement, a very tenacious memory and a yearning only for the Truth in life.

An experiment can be made by observing carefully the conversation of those around us to see the actual amount of Truth that is spoken, the various motivations in people for their dishonesty, and the general amount of falsehood that is passed from one person to another. After a thorough observation is done, one can then examine one’s own dishonest speech by dividing it up into the various categories mentioned above. Each time a sentence is spoken it should be subjected to this observation and graded accordingly. In the beginning one can make the attempt to become aware of the falsehood sometime after the conversation. Later this must be upgraded to awareness of it as it is being spoken and finally a conscious awareness of it when arising in the mind before being spoken and an offering of that to Mother.

If this is attempted one will see each moment of his life becoming fresh and live, as the creativity of the human mind constantly reveals itself.