The Joy of Living Honestly
We have all experienced times in our lives in which we have felt we needed to lie – either to obtain some kind of happiness or to avoid some form of unhappiness. No one really likes to lie, yet we will find ourselves in situations wherein we feel compelled to do so. However, when we choose to lie or be deceptive in order to obtain a material object or situation that we desire, we are sacrificing something of immeasurably greater value than whatever we may seek to gain through the lie – our connection to our own true nature.
We live in a very materialistic time. The general focus of most people is on gaining material success – wealth, fame, beauty, power, etc. – in the expectation that that it will bring us the happiness we long for. In the consumerism culture, we are encouraged not to be honest and conscientious, but rather to do whatever it takes to get our hands on all the goodies that supposedly will make us happy. This mode of living leads us away from truly healthful and beneficial values, away from authenticity, and, ironically, away from the real and lasting happiness we are seeking.
It is not uncommon to find ourselves entangled in half-truths and artificiality, feeling unhappy, empty, bewildered and not really knowing how to move forward into a joyful and genuine expression of our self. In fact, we have for so long been encouraged away from being ourselves that most of us do not even know who we are anymore. Our fundamental knowledge of self has been surreptitiously replaced by the facade of material life, leaving us in a deeply distressful condition.
So how do we find our way out of this web of artificiality and into authenticity?
The key is in understanding who we are eternally – beneath the temporary coverings of the material mind and body.
According to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, we are not the material body or the mind – we are eternal spiritual beings temporarily wearing the material mind and body. The gross physical body can be compared to outer clothes and the mind or subtle energy body can be compared to under clothes. Just as we are not the clothes we are wearing, we are not the material bodies we are wearing either.
The belief that we are material is the fundamental deception from which all other deceptions arise. If we believe we are the material “clothes” that we are currently wearing, then we base everything in our lives on this misconception. The way we choose to spend our time and energy, our purpose and goals in life, the meaning we apply to experiences we have, how we relate to others, etc. are all determined by who we believe ourselves to be. If we think we are the material mind and body, we will misunderstand the goal and purpose of life and thus create unnecessary confusion and suffering for ourselves and others.
Our highest, most fulfilling, and happiest life is always going to be that which is based on truth – when we are fully understanding our actual situation and identity, making choices based in clarity, intelligence, and integrity. It is possible for every one of us to experience the happiness we long for in our heart of hearts – happiness that is completely fulfilling to the very core of our being. But this is not something we will experience through doggedly trying to pacify the demands of our minds and bodily senses with material gratification. Rather, it can be experienced through actual spiritual realization – through direct realization of our eternal identity (our eternal essence, position, and function).
The ancient system of yoga is designed to bring us into a state of complete and perfect spiritual realization, which enables us to experience the innate joy and harmony of our true nature. Many people are under the mistaken belief the yoga is simply a form of exercise, but in actuality, it is a complete system of self-realization. If followed properly, it brings us back into full awareness of our true identity and into our natural state of integrity.
Although the physical asana yoga postures and pranayama breathing can be helpful in purifying the mind and body, they are not necessary for self-realization in this day and age. The yoga scriptures clearly state that the primary process for self-realization in the current age is mantra meditation. A true mantra is not something anyone makes up. It is the Absolute Truth in sound vibration. This spiritual sound vibration descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of its potency. In mantra meditation, a person hears and chants or sings this spiritual sound and thus is directly relating with the Supreme. This has a profound purifying effect on our consciousness.
Through mantra meditation, our hearts and minds are gradually purified of material misconceptions, so that we are able to increasingly taste the divine sweetness of our true nature. With sincere, daily practice, materially-induced tendencies fall away and our inherent spiritual activities and tendencies are revealed. The more we awaken to our spiritual identity and the loving relationship with the Supreme that is inseparable from it, the more we naturally return to a life that is in complete harmony with who we are.
When we are able to discover for ourselves the real joy, peace, and freedom that are to be found in living a life that is a genuine reflection of who we intrinsically are, we will not go back to a life of artificiality. The pure, unadulterated bliss of a life in integrity with the Supreme and all living beings is so completely fulfilling, that we lose interest in the superficial and temporary offerings of material life – and thus cease engaging in activities aimed at gaining some cheap recognition or paltry sense pleasure.
By adopting a regular mantra meditation practice – even starting with as little as 15 minutes per day – we place ourselves on the felicitous path toward a thoroughly honest and happy life.