“Every person must choose how much truth he can stand. “ — Carl Jung
Truth. Satya. It seems so straightforward. We think we understand it. It appears uncomplicated. We believe we choose it more often than not. However, after years of studying and teaching the topic and continuing to peel away layer after layer, I’ve found it is, as Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying, “rarely pure and never simple.”
Last weekend I led a four-day Tantra intensive and we spent an afternoon examining the intersection of sva dharma (your personal role, duty, or true nature), satya (truthfulness) and purushartha (four goals of human life). I’m still thinking about what we found, and perhaps the best way to share it is to offer you some points for personal reflection. We’re not talking here about the big and little lies you tell and are told. This is the realm of the big and little lies that you live.
The lie that is silence: Consider sva dharma as the essence of you. Think of it as the core of who you are meant to be in the world, or the note that you are here to play in the symphony of life. What is lost (to you and to the collective) when you are not playing your note? Often stifled by fear, this reflection point asks: what lives within you that you are not expressing?
The lie of half-truths: As above, think about living your dharma as living in alignment with your soul in a deep and purposeful way. If you’re not doing that, you’re not playing your note. If you’re not playing your note, you’re not living fully in truth. Perhaps it’s playing the note sometimes, or half heartedly, or trying to play someone else’s note because you think it sounds better. It’s a half truth. Where are you living in quiet shades of gray and how would it serve you (and everyone else) to step into the full technicolor beauty of what you were made to be? Where are you choosing to be half-in instead of all-in?
The places we hide: Where, when and with whom do you put focus on the external aspects of your life to avoid what is most true for you? Consider all the people, projects and things that constantly need (and will always need) your time and attention. At what point does tending to your external life become a chosen distraction from cultivating your inner life– and what is lost in that choice?
The truth of fitting in: To begin to understand how profound the truth really is, is to accept that it’s somewhat unknown territory for us. We are out of integrity with truth when we choose to act based on what is easy and readily palatable to others. Do you go along with social and familial norms to avoid standing out, rocking the boat, or upsetting another’s idea of who you are or who they think you should be? The truth of fitting in is rarely truth at all.
Truth is not static: Truth-seeking requires ongoing study of the evolving self, the relationship of self to Self, source, others and the world. What was once true for you perhaps isn’t anymore. What are you carrying from childhood or a past relationships or trauma that no longer holds water? How have you clung to those identities and why? Most importantly, what truth is alive in you today?
The thing about sva dharma is that it’s inextricably linked to universal dharma. That means that when you choose to align with your own highest and best, you’re aligning with big dharma– which includes everyone and everything. Put more simply, you playing your note necessarily opens the door for someone else to play theirs a little more fully, too. And if we all lived in that melody? Imagine…
Always on the path,