According to an ancient Hindu teaching, if you can only speak the truth and tell no lies—either miniscule or outrageous— for 12 consecutive years, you can attain enlightenment. This is no easy assignment.
Most of us perceive ourselves to be honest and forthright, never intentionally lying, but most of us have been taught through life’s experiences to mask our true thoughts, pad our words, or simply avoid a response. We attempt to convince ourselves that a “little white lie” doesn’t matter.
The Spiritual Truth Is: Everything matters.
A friend was recently sharing how her single sister had traveled to Europe alone and was emailing photos back regularly. These two are 10 years apart in age, live on opposite coasts, and see each other once every two or three years at most.
As the younger one who was the traveler sent photos with herself in them, she would regularly ask, “How do I look?” My friend chuckled as she told me that she thought her sister looked way too skinny and had way too many lines in her face. That was the truth as she saw it. But what she wrote back was, “In each picture you look like you are having the time of your life. I am so happy to see you looking so happy.” That was the truth also, although a kinder expression of the truth.
Many people, however, are unclear as to what the truth is, because they haven’t told the truth to themselves for so long that they no longer recognize what the truth is.
They say it doesn’t matter when it does, convincing themselves that no one will notice or everyone cheats just a little. All such justifications are ignoble thoughts and behaviors.
A spiritual principle I have taught and know to always be true is: The truth will always emerge.
And when you tell the truth, there is a whole lot less to remember. A noble being will always tell the truth. Do you? Begin now with the first step of simply noticing if you do tell the truth immediately, or if your first instinct is to pad or alter the facts a bit.
If you notice you are regularly withholding the complete truth, resolve to be honest with yourself and others starting today. Know it is safe to be truthful. Like many lifestyle changes, resolve to tell the truth one day at a time.
And after 4,383 days you just may become enlightened.
This article originally appeared in Unity Magazine®.
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