The Sanskrit word ‘satya’ means truth; practicing ‘satya’ means observing life through an unfiltered, unbiased, unclogged lens. This is actually much harder than it seems.
As humans, we spend a majority of our time viewing the world through clogged lenses. Quite literally, we invented these things called ‘sunglasses’, which serve to filter out the sunlight, and alter our perceptions of the world (I personally prefer to not wear sunglasses, because I feel like my body awareness is off, and I often end up running into things). Our interaction with the world is filtered with UV protection. Or, we use substances, such as medicine, coffee, and energy drinks, to change our body’s natural state, which in turn, alters our perception of the world. We douse our food with spices and flavoring, so that we hide the actual, true flavor.
I personally do not think there is such a thing as ‘truth‘, because I think truth is always, figuratively and metaphorically, distorted. Our backgrounds taint our perceptions. For example, my dad’s family is Dutch, and I can’t tell you how many Dutch things I notice myself doing: using the Expo markers until the very end, eating out of the melted bag of sour gummy worms, using my ten-year-old yoga bag that is held on by threads (my dad calls this “being frugal”; I call it being “cheap”). Our experiences taint our perceptions. For example, I one time dumped a boy in high school. He cried, I felt guilty, and now my perception of dumping people is forever alerted due to that experience. Our emotional states taint our perceptions. You might consider a time that you were feeling stressed, overwhelmed, hungry, and tired (all a catastrophic combination) and the small “tapping” of your cubicle mate’s foot set you off. Our egos taint our perceptions. Because we are self-serving, and selfish people, everything we do may be motivated by putting ourselves first: running to that buffet line, cutting off that car in traffic, sending out that all-reply email.
Our perceptions of ‘truth’ can change; I know this, because, when one chooses to live a Christ-like life, the world does not change, but rather, the way in which we view the world. A group of my friends and I started attending a new church together a little over a year ago. Since then, we listened to sermons about forgiveness, living gracefully, loving your neighbor, pulling power out of motivations. And, there came a time when we suddenly all became bothered by behaviors of those around us. We started getting irritated that so-and-so would talk about themselves so much, and that so-and-so would say indirectly demeaning things, and that so-and-so’s motivations were actually not that selfless. It was not that the people we interacted with were changing; they were the same, but rather, our perception, or our version of ‘truth’ was changing. Or, probably one of the most difficult things I have ever gone through was my dad getting re-married; I had this perception of my dad, his wife did not fit that perception, and I had to change my mental schema of my dad; he was the same person, but my version of him changed. Or, I wrote a paper last year about power and control, and now suddenly, all I can focus on are people’s power plays. Those power plays have probably always been there, but my new sense of ‘truth’ is just now seeing them.
And, we have to remind ourselves that, since there is no human-perceived universal ‘truth’, everyone’s truth is going to look different, and just because someone else’s version of ‘truth’ is different than mine does not necessarily mean it is wrong. For example, we all know our family members on completely different levels than anyone else in the world (simply because we have to live with them). I remember going to get a pedicure with my mom one time, and as she sat there and talked with the pedicure-ist, I became slightly irritated at my mom telling the story about how my sister got her name (because I have heard that story a billion times), and then thinking to myself, “But wait, the interaction this pedicure-ist is having with my mom is a different interaction than I have with her, and it’s probably not fair for me to snap and throw a fit, and taint that perspective”.
And, while I believe humans are corrupt, selfish, jealous by nature (all that good stuff), I also believe the our natural instinct is to act in “what’s best”. Now, of course, my perception of “what’s best” and your perception of “what’s best” might be two completely different things, but if someone does something I do not necessarily agree with, I always have to remind myself that they were acting under what they think was best. For example, I once had these team members who would find other girls on social media, print out their pages, and share it with the coach; regardless of if this was justified behavior or not, in their eyes, this was what was best for the image of the team. Or, I might see a parent reprimanding their child in the grocery store, and automatically, judge the parent for what I perceive as unjust punishment. However, I do not live with their child, I do not know the history, and I am hopeful that, whatever this reprimanding is, the parent is doing because they think that is “what’s best”.
So, it’s not really up to me to decide what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’, what is ‘valid’ and what is ‘invalid’, what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false’; all that I can determine is what is ‘truth’ for me in my current egotistical, emotional, and experiential state. But then again, that will probably shift as well.
Perhaps our ‘purpose in life’ is to find the purest form of observation that we can. The Bible verse, “The truth will set you free” is so accurate, because I find that, the more I take away my ego, the more personal accountability I take, and the more sleep I get, the better I feel. I wrote about a time when I constantly showed up to work late, and would create these elaborate excuses. And, throughout my entire shift, I felt so horrible about myself, and all I could ruminate on were these excuses. It was only when I owned up to the fact I was late because I just didn’t leave on time that I felt free. It was not until I stopped blaming my long-term boyfriend for the terrible relationship we had, and started taking personal responsibility for the things I did to perpetuate the dysfunctional relationship that I felt a sense of agency. It was not until I stopped thinking that “my shoes being too tight” or my “hair falling into my eyeball” were the reasons I could not get my turns, and instead, realized that maybe I was turning on a bent knee, that I was able to get that quad.
….”the truth will set you free”…