To stand your truth is another way for me to say to be truthful. Truth and truthfulness are two different things. While I believe truth is impossible to grasp and communicate, truthfulness is something we can all aspire to. The truth is unreachable (at the level of mind). But truthfulness can be reached.
This goal of this article is to express why we should all aim to be truthful in all of our interactions. I will attempt to describe the difference between truth and truthfulness. I will also explain the profound benefits which come with living a truthful life.
Read on to learn more.
What Is Truth?
This is a profoundly hairy question. If a philosopher were to read this article I’m sure she/he could pick it apart with ease. So I’ll be doing my best to keep things at the level of my understanding, without pretense.
I believe the best way to start is to write that The Truth is unattainable, at the level of mind. While we can aspire to The Truth, we will never be able to reach it (at the level of mind). It’s an idea we strive for but can never reach.
What Do I Mean When I Write “At The Level Of Mind”?
Western philosophy is intellectual in nature. It attempts to decode the universe with the mind as the decoding tool. But The Truth of the universe will always reside beyond the mind. The universe is unity, an undivided whole. The mind fragments that whole and analyses it. This doesn’t mean the mind is bad, it means it is incapable of grasping The Truth.
Eastern philosophies, beginning with Buddhism, go beyond the level of mind. Through an established protocol people can transcend the mind and experience The Truth for themselves. The Truth can’t be communicated in words, because words are of the mind. That’s why western philosophies flounder when it comes to The Truth.
The Truth cannot be decoded in words, it can only be.
If this is confusing to you don’t sweat it. Just remember that The Truth is there for those who choose to lose their minds.
Back To The Truth
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that The Truth is unattainable in other words when he wrote:
“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Truth at the level of mind is unreachable because everything we experience we interpret through the lens of our humanity. We can seek The Truth, we can attempt to speak it, but it will always be a dim reflection of The Truth.
For example, imagine for a moment the following color: blue.
What shade of blue are you imagining? I’d bet good money it’s different from the shade of blue I’m imagining. Yet we both read the “same” word, “blue.” Who’s imagined blue is the true blue?
Actually, was it the same word we read?
It wasn’t. Words mean different things to different people. If someone who doesn’t speak English attempted to read the word “blue” they would fail. They wouldn’t be able to imagine the color.
This is just meant to open your mind to the reality that everyone interprets the world in their own way. It’s this interpretation that we then act upon.
This is where truthfulness comes in.
What Is Truthfulness?
I think of truthfulness as being The Truth’s approachable cousin. While The Truth sits far above us in a gilded throne surrounded by angles and singing cherubs, truthfulness dresses in commoner clothes and is willing to walk around the world with us.
We can all be truthful. We can all reach truthfulness.
To me, truthfulness is communicating and acting on your truth. It means speaking what’s on your mind, telling the truth (which is your truth) and acting righteously based on what you know and believe.
It isn’t The Truth. But it’s the best thing we can achieve at the level of mind.
And you want to know something? In my experience, being truthful is a wonderful thing.
What Happens When We’re Truthful
Life becomes easier. When we’re truthful, the world becomes our record keeper; we don’t have to remember anything nor do we have pretend to be anything we aren’t.
Mark Twain wrote:
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Think about it. When we walk around telling our truth (being truthful), there’s no need to pretend we know something when we don’t. You just say “I don’t know” and keep on doing your business. If you don’t like someone, you don’t have to go out of your way to tell them you don’t like them, but, if they insist on being around you, then you just tell them you don’t like them and move forward with your life.
Being truthful allows our inner word to line up with our outer world. We exist in harmony with what is.
Lying takes tremendous amounts of energy. In order to lie we need to concoct stories, manufacture alternatives, keep hundreds of “facts” straight so that we can be sure to say one thing to one person and another thing to another. In the words of psychologist Jordan Peterson, “Lying is a hydra.” For every lie we tell more lies emerge which we have to tell to maintain the first one.
Lying Is Exhausting
It demands attention to detail and creative energy. And all in the service of creating a lie which will eventually be discovered. Because truthfulness always wins.
What is a lie? To lie is to intentionally mislead. The word “intentional” is key here. A person can say something which isn’t “true” without intending to do so, that doesn’t mean the person lied. That person was untruthful, but not a liar.
In the book “Lying” by Sam Harris, the author writes about a college professor who engaged in a dialogue with his students. The purpose of the dialogue was for the students to come up with a situation in which telling a lie would be appropriate. They had to convince the professor that telling a lie was morally justified in certain circumstances.
Without fail, the professor poked holes in the student’s arguments. But, Sam Harris concedes that there are situations when a lie would be appropriate.
Imagine The Following Situation:
Someone arrives at the door to your house and tells you that someone is chasing him with the intent of murdering him. The person asks you to hide him in your house and you do. A minute later, the would-be murderer arrives at your door and asks if you are hiding the person he’s looking for.
Are you going to tell him the truth?
Of course not! You won’t tell the would-be murderer the truth (I hope). You will lie to him and tell him that the person he’s looking for isn’t in your house. In doing so you have lied. But you will have protected the life of another human being.
You can look at it as self-defense. Using violence to defend ourselves (or someone else) is morally justifiable. If you can diffuse a situation with a lie rather than physical violence you will have used less force to protect yourself/others.
It’s about using the least amount of force.
So there are situations where lying is morally justifiable. But how often do you think they present themselves in our lives? Please let me know in the comments if something like the fictitious situation above happened/happens to you. I’d be very impressed if it did.
But What About So-Called “White Lies”?
They surely serve a noble purpose, don’t they?
Turns out they don’t. When we tell a “white lie” for the “benefit” of someone, what we’re really doing is denying information, which could be useful, to another person.
The classic example of a white lie is the answer to the question a wife asks her husband: “Does this dress make me look fat?” If the husband believes it does, but he lies, to spare his wife pain, he has just set her up to experience greater pain further down the line. Because if she eventually discovers the dress does indeed make her look fat, then she will not only have to deal with that painful reality, but also the reality that her husband lied to her.
Then one could ask “What if she never finds out? Surely that’s when a white lie can come in handy” That’s worse still! Then she will go throughout her life living a lie! Walking around in a dress that makes her look fat. Instead of having the information she needs to make the choice of changing her dress or losing weight, she will inhabit a lie for the rest of the time she wears the dress. The dress will be a lie. Every time the wife wears the dress the husband will be reminded of his lie.
Is all of that really worth avoiding the initial discomfort of being truthful?
Lying Is A Failure To Cooperate
When we lie what we’re doing is stealing another person’s choice. We deny information which would allow the person to make an informed decision which could allow them to improve their lives. We lie to avoid discomfort. But what we are actually doing when we lie is setting up both the liar and the lied-to to experience more discomfort further along.
Better to be truthful, face the initial discomfort and work together to resolve whatever expectations were let down.
I Used To Lie Regularly
I’ll be honest, I used to lie about a few things in my life to a few people I cared about. I thought I was doing everyone a favor by lying, but really I was refusing to cooperate. I was hiding myself from the world.
Because that’s what lying is; we hide ourselves from the world. Instead of showing ourselves as we are, we craft an illusory self which we put between ourselves and the world.
Lying comes with tremendous negative psychological consequences. When we lie to others we also lie to ourselves. If we lie, it’s because we find something about us shameful. So we bury it. We hide it.
By denying that part of ourselves we become fragmented. We deny ourselves the pleasure of existing as we are. This means we become locked out of living our truest life. Whatever it is that we are on Earth do to will be out of reach for us, because by lying we deny the parts of us which are necessary to discover our purpose.
Because we are both our shadow side and our light side. When we deny one we deny the other.
What Happened When I Stopped Lying
Several years ago I decided to stop lying. It was tough at first. I realized there were several lies which I was maintaining I now had to confront. It was uncomfortable and painful. But as I started being more truthful, it became easier.
And here’s something else that happened. I started accepting myself as I am. With all of my flaws and my qualities. I integrated both of them, so now I can make choices which reflect all of me, rather than part of me.
It was a liberating experience.
I’m not perfect, of course. Sometimes I still catch myself telling tiny (when compared to my previous lies) lies. Being truthful is a work in progress. But I am speaking my truth when I write that being truthful makes life flow much more effortlessly.
Which brings me to another quote I heard from Sacha Stone the other day:
“The path of least resistance to the highest outcome in life is pure truth and right action.”
In other words, be truthful and kind and life will work out for you in the best and brightest way.
As a person who went from being a liar to being truthful, I can tell you that is the way of things.
So what about you? Have you ever caught yourself lying to someone you care about? Do you justify your lies as being “necessary”? Have you ever considered becoming more truthful? Let me know in the comments!
To our wealth and success.