The Practice of Truth


Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

Early Morning Meditation Talk given in the Sacred Samadhi Hall of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was a votary of truth. He used to declare, “They say that God is Truth. But I declare unto you, truth is God.” This would suggest that when Gurudev wants us take a vow of truthfulness, satyam, that if it is practised in all sincerity, then we become God. But what is involved in the practice of truth?

If we reflect upon it, we will recognise that we need to practice truth at three levels of our being. The first level of the practice of truth is the obvious one, of telling the truth to each other in our day by day affairs. To practise the truth to the standard of Mahatma Gandhi means that ultimately we become incapable of telling a lie. If by chance a lie should escape our lips, we become immediately aware of it and make the necessary correction.

The next level of truth is the practice of truth in our inner being. Gurudev said, “Scrutinise always your inner motives.” Normally, most of us have two reasons for doing something: One, a reason that sounds good to ourselves and others, and second, the real reason. We have to scrutinise carefully our inner motives, recognise what our real motives are, and never claim to be doing anything for other than our real motivation.

But there is a third level of truth that most of us find almost impossible to practice. And that is truth at the level of yoga. The scriptures can declare “That thou art,” we can affirm, “I am Brahman,” we can believe with our intellect that “All this is Brahman,” but to come to grips with the truth of it is something else altogether. It requires tremendous strength, tremendous clarity of intellect, tremendous devotion to the truth, tremendous will-power and, above all, the character built by the practice of truth with others and within ourselves.

It is this final practice of the truth that will convert us into the Divine. But it is an absolute practice and it is not a practice that we can do in the ordinary way. It is a practice–no matter how we describe it–of total letting go, total renunciation, total surrender, and it is affirming that the ultimate Truth is That which we can never grasp, in anyway, with the mind. The scriptures declare that we are That. But they also declare that That is unknowable and unthinkable. So to practise the real truth, we have to exchange that which we think we are for the truth that is unknowable by the mind.

It is this practice that brings us to the peace that is beyond understanding. It is this practice that results in total humility. We are nothing, but paradoxically, we are everything. We have given up everything; we gain everything. We had confusion; now we have clarity. It comes through the practice of truth at all levels of our being.

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