Yama 8 - Arjava, Honesty

Yama number 8 - arjava, honesty. Part of the reason for these talks is that there is a high demand in Malaysia. We need to harness the tendency to be great through breaking the rules or laws. In Kauai's jail the warden teaches the inmates that honest actions have positive reactions and dishonest actions have negative reactions. Sometimes parents teach their children it is good to be dishonest in life and business. Bodhinatha gives tips on how to be more honest. Bribery is also dishonest. The most important rule is to be honest to oneself.

Unedited Transcript:

An interesting email came in yesterday, from someone who is reading the Master Course. Venugopal Rao writes in, "Namaste, I am reading these courses regularly. And also it is good to know some old, new things about Siva. But actually, I am confused in one point. That is, Siva Purana says Siva is the creator of the whole universe. He first appeared as Siva and Shakti and then emerged into Vishnu and Brahma. But in the Vishnu Purana, Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Siva is created after Vishnu. Now obvious confusing to which is true? Also, we say Siva and Vishnu are the same. So can you help me to understand this?"

Remember the Pancha Brahma? It talks about two theoretical Hindus discussing whether Siva or Vishnu was better in quoting the Puranas. So I got to cut and paste where it says, "All Hindus worship the same Supreme Being." It answered his question, it was perfect. Just like the question to come in before the answer, but in this case the answer had come in before the question. The question is a perennial one, so it worked out very well.

We have a new chapter in our 'Yamas and Niyamas' this morning. This is on Yama #8. Two of the reasons we are going through the yamas and niyamas is to develop some material for Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia, a lot of youth, and as you know in Malaysia youth is anyone under 30, are engaged in preparing to teach the Master Course to other youth. They are particularly interested in teaching the yamas and niyamas and 'Merging with Siva' tools and some of the philosophy. So we are developing this with them in mind.

As well as in Singapore, as you know we have Sivakumar coordinating in the Hindu Center's Youth Course and he is in need of material. He is teaching the Yamas and Niyamas. We wanted to develop some material that he could use there.

Today it is Yama #8, Honesty. Today's lesson on 'Good Conduct' is on the 8th Yama, arjava, which is to maintain honesty, renouncing deception and wrong doing. Act honorably even in hard times. Obey the laws of your nation and locale. Pay your taxes. Be straightforward in business. Do an honest day's work. Do not bribe or accept bribes. Do not cheat, deceive, or circumvent to achieve an end. Be frank with yourself. Face and accept your faults without blaming them on others.

Let us look at some common examples of not following this yama.

In school to get good grades, rather than simply studying hard, we put our efforts into cleverly acquiring the test answers.

We figure out how to access a pay-for-cable TV service and watch it regularly, without having to pay for it.

We find a way to enter the movie theatre through the exit door and avoid paying the admission fee.

In completing our Income tax return, we knowingly overstate our deductions to save on taxes.

As we know, all of the yamas focus on harnessing the tendency of the instinctive mind. In the case of Arjava, Honesty - the instinctive tendency we are focusing on harnessing is the tendency to acquire something or to be more successful, by breaking the rules. Of course, a serious breaking of the rules is punished by the legal system. However any dishonest act, no matter how small, creates disturbances in the subconscious mind. This is because inwardly we know what we have done is against our conscience, it is not right. For, the knowing of right and wrong is, of course, within us.

Imagine the subconscious turmoil of having performed hundreds of dishonest acts over the years. This would strengthen the other instinctive tendencies and would cut us off from our soul nature, leaving us in an externalized and unhappy state of mind.

Here is a story to illustrate harnessing this tendency.

We recently visited our local county jail, the Kauai Community Correctional Facility, as part of the island-wide Vision group. The purpose of our group's visit was to learn more about the special efforts the warden and his staff are making to rehabilitate the inmates. The warden made a number of interesting statements. One of them was about his teaching the need for honesty, by helping inmates comprehend that gains acquired from a dishonest action will eventually be lost, that eventually there will be a price to pay, that the only way to truly get ahead is through honest actions. He even included the 'karma' word in his explanation, that honest actions have positive consequences and dishonest actions have negative consequences.

It is interesting that the Tirukural in its presentation of honesty, stresses the same point. It is part of Chapter 28, 'Avoidance of Fraud'. Here are two of its verses.

"A fortune amassed by fraud may appear to prosper but will all too soon perish altogether."

"Taking delight in defrauding others, yields the fruit of undying suffering when those delights ripen."

The natural time for learning about honesty is when one is a child. Parents have opportunities to correct the child's actions whenever the child is dishonest and instill the understanding that honest actions have positive consequences and dishonest actions have negative consequences. You may be surprised to learn that some parents teach their children to be deceptive and cunning in order to get on in the world. Other children are taught we should be honest and straightforward with our friends and family, but it is perfectly acceptable to be dishonest with business associates, corporations, governments and strangers. Of course, both of these forms of behavior are not acceptable. Parents raising their children with these beliefs are not building good citizens. They are training their sons and daughters to pull down humanity, rather than uplift mankind.

How can adults improve in their upholding of arjava? Here are three suggestions.

First suggestion - The worship of Lord Ganesha helps to keep our consciousness in the muladhara chakra and above and avoid the chakras below the muladhara, which create a consciousness prone to deception and dishonesty.

Second suggestion - Study of the Tirukural keeps us reminded of the high ideals of Hindu conduct, what actions we want to avoid and what actions we want to perform.

Third suggestion - Cultivate an attitude toward oneself of always being able to find areas in yourself, in which you can improve your behavior.

Let us turn now to the topic of truthfulness, which is closely related to honesty. Dishonest and deceitful actions often require lies to prevent others from finding out about them. If we are dishonest in our actions, this then leads to being untruthful in our words. As we know, one lie usually requires another lie to cover it up and then another to cover up that one and before you know it, an intricate cover-up is in place that adds a layer of darkness to the subconscious mind, further distancing us from our soul nature.

Example - You are a teenager and go out with your friends on weekends, sometimes to places you are not supposed to go. So when that occurs you lie to your parents as to where you went. Of course, it takes a great deal of mental energy to remember all the lies and definitely agitates and clouds the subconscious mind. An agitated and clouded subconscious creates lack of contentment, worry of discovery and can even lead to fearfulness.

A practice that some people view as a regrettable exception to arjava is the practice of bribery. It is justified by statements such as, "Nothing would get done in my country without a bribe. Everyone here bribes. That makes it acceptable." However, the problem with paying a bribe is that you are legitimizing the briber's dishonest act, a form of extortion. Legitimizing it by your action of paying the bribe, that it is all right to be dishonest.

Bribery has a corrupting influence on those directly involved, as well as indirectly it has a corrupting influence on the whole nation, as the presence of bribery encourages grosser forms of dishonesty to manifest. Therefore, instead of paying a bribe to acquire something, it is better to do without it.

One of the Nandinatha Sutras addresses bribery. "Siva's devotees are forbidden to accept bribes nor do they offer bribes to others, no matter how seemingly necessary, expedient or culturally accepted this practice may be. Jai. They fight for the mercy of honesty."

Gurudeva shares an even deeper perspective on honesty in 'Living with Siva' lesson on 'Arjava'. In it he says, "The most important rule of honesty is to be honest to oneself."

This is the idea that we often try to blame our problems on others. It is so much easier to think that what happened is someone else's fault rather than our doing. To be able to accept that we created the problems and then to move on and make honest decisions toward their solutions brings great peace of mind. Frustration and discontent, on the other hand, result from not being honest with ourselves and looking for a scapegoat, someone else to blame our problem on.

Here is an example. A husband and wife argue regularly. The actual cause is that the husband becomes angry and frustrated by the criticisms of his boss at work. But of course, he can't talk back to him or he would lose his job. So he comes home and finds an excuse to let out his pent-up anger by criticizing something his wife says. The situation can't improve until the husband is honest with himself and admits he needs to find another way of handling the anger he feels towards his boss.

In conclusion, maintain honesty, renouncing deception and wrong doing. Act honorably even in hard times. Obey the laws of your nation and locale. Pay your taxes. Be straight forward in business. Do an honest day's work. Do not bribe or accept bribes. Do not cheat, deceive or circumvent to achieve an end. Be frank with yourself. Face and accept your faults, without blaming them on others.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
But you must remember that even the greatest souls have had nightmares, confusions, heartbreaks, disappointments, losses, desires that have been unfulfilled and experiences that they have not been able to cognize.