Last month, I discussed the difference between authenticity and truth. Authenticity is “the truth of bearing who you are”, I said. It’s the work of diving deep, peeling off layers to reveal your authentic self, your dharma. Truth is the scalpel that dissects and cuts away kleshas and samskaras to reveal our diamond self.
But Truth is even bigger than just discovering your dharma. It is bigger than obeying the yama of satya, avoiding falsehoods and trying to avoid deception in everyday dealings. It takes even more work and persistence. As Ram Dass says, “Truth is the most difficult tapasya. Men will hate you for telling the truth….They may even kill you, but you must tell the truth. If you live in truth, Spirit will always stand with you.”
To me, Truth is the deeply held knowledge that is at the bottom of everything, the canvas beneath all the colors….it is the simple but powerful knowledge that there is no “you” and “me”, there is no separation. It’s what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “Interbeing.” He says “interbeing” is when you see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. “Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either.” The tree knows no fear as it knows inter-being. The important part is the realization that there is no independent self – that the perception of self, of “me”, of “mine”, is an illusion.
Sharon Salzberg says there is no possibility for compassion unless we dig deep into our soul and see our truth. “Compassion is cultivated by moving away from a strong sense of self and other, or ‘us and them’ to a sense of ‘we’”. Once we can let go of the outer stuff, the heavy stuff that is part of our ego, we can identify with truth, our soul. Identifying with our soul gives us a panorama view of our inter-connection. You see someone’s hurt….you see you must go to them. The soul knows. Everyone is part of us. “It’s like one hand pulling the other hand out of the fire”, says Ram Dass.
How is this done? Mindfulness is the first step. It is noticing where we are seated, from where we reference. Meditation helps, service and acts of compassion are even better. The more that we identify with love and are able to move from that perspective, the more we know Truth. Ram Dass says that not until you bring your vantage point to the spiritual soul can you find truth. Once you’re in the soul, then part of the soul is the witness and the witness observes your thoughts and the witness is able to see the truth of your own ego. You realize when you are identifying with the untruth. You see that when you grip on to an outer reference point, you feel separate and that is untruth. Truth is free of self-reference, truth is reference from our soul.
Erich Schiffmann says truth is “when you realize you are love” . It’s when you look at everyone you meet and see that they are part of you. Erich has a great metaphor for this process. He says that when you live in fear and separateness, it’s like looking out of a smudgy window, everything outside looks scary. You think you see a threatening monster on the other side. But when you clean the window with your compassion, love and honesty, you see that the monster is really a beautiful tree. Once freed of fear and separateness, once you clean up your heart and connect with love, you can radiate Truth. You can vibrate truth to everyone you meet with your very presence.
One year ago this morning, 7:13 am June 18, 2014, I witnessed love personified as I watched my tiny granddaughter emerge into this world. She was literally vibrating with love. Free from any illusion that she was anything but love. On her one year birthday, I wish for her to remember this her entire life. I wish this Truth for all living beings.