Yoga’s Forgotten Foundation



Ārjava आर्जव

imageONESTY, ĀRJAVA, IS THE EIGHTH YAMA. THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF HONESTY IS TO BE HONEST TO ONESELF, TO BE ABLE TO FACE UP TO OUR PROBLEMS AND ADMIT THAT WE have been the creator of them. To be able to then reason them through, make soulfully honest decisions toward their solutions, is a boon, a gift from the Gods. To be honest with oneself brings peace of mind. Those who are frustrated, discontent, are now and have been dishonest with themselves. They blame others for their own faults and predicaments. They are always looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame something on. To deceive oneself is truly the ultimate of wrongdoing. To deceive oneself is truly ignorance in its truest form. Honesty begins within one’s own heart and soul and works its way out from there into dealing with other people. Polonius wisely said in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to your own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, you cannot then be false to any man.”§

The adage, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say” should be heard again and again by the youth, middle-aged and elderly alike. Sir Walter Scott once said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Mark Twain observed, “The advantage of telling the truth is that you don’t have to remember what you said.” Another philosopher, wise in human nature, noted, “You can watch a thief, but you cannot watch a liar.” To be deceptive and not straightforward is thieving time from those you are deceiving. They are giving you their heart and mind, and you are twisting their thoughts to your own selfish ends, endeavoring to play them out, to take what they have, in favors or in kind, for your personal gain.§

Deception is the cruelest of acts. A deceptive person is an insidious disease to society. Many parents, we are told, teach their children to be deceptive and cunning in order to get on in the world. They are not building good citizens. They are creating potential criminals who will eventually, if they perfect the art, ravage humankind. To be straightforward is the solution, no matter how difficult it is. To show remorse, be modest and show shame for misdeeds is the way to win back the faith, though maybe not the total trust, and a smidgen of respect from those who have discovered and exposed your deception. Ārjava is straightness with neighbors, family and with your government. You pay your taxes. You observe the laws. You don’t fudge, bribe, cheat, steal or participate in fraud and other forms of manipulation.§

Bribery corrupts the giver, the taker and the nation. It would be better not to have, not to do, and to live the simple life, if bribery were the alternative. To participate in bribery is to go into a deceptive, illegal partnership between the briber and the bribed. If and when discovered, embarrassment no end would fall on both parties involved in the crime, and even if not discovered, someone knows, someone is watching, your own conscience is watching. There is no law in any legal code of any government that says bribery is acceptable.§

There are those who feel it is sufficient to be honest and straightforward with their friends and family, but feel justified to be dishonest with business associates, corporations, governments and strangers. These are the most despicable people. Obviously they have no knowledge of the laws of karma and no desire to obtain a better, or even a similar, birth. They may experience several abortions before obtaining a new physical body and then be an unwanted child. They may suffer child abuse, neglect, beatings, perhaps even be killed at a young age. These two-faced persons—honest to immediate friends and relatives, but dishonest and deceptive and involved in wrongdoings with business associates and in public life—deserve the punishment that only the lords of karma are able to deal out. These persons are training their sons and daughters to be like themselves and pull down humanity rather than uplift mankind.§

Honesty in Monastic Life§

We can say that sādhakas, yogīs and swāmīs upholding their vows are the prism of honesty. The rays of their auras radiate out through all areas of life. They are the protectors, the stabilizers, the uplifters, the consolers, the sympathizers. They have the solution to all human problems and all human ills, or they know where to find those solutions, to whom to go or what scripture to read. To be a sādhaka, yogī or swāmī, honesty is the primal qualification, yes, primal qualification—honesty, ārjava. No satguru would accept a monastic candidate who persists in patterns of deception, wrongdoing and outright lies and who shows no shame for misdeeds.§

Human relations, especially the guru-disciple relationship, derive their strength from trust, which each shares and expresses. The breaking of the yama of ārjava is the severing of that trust, which thereby provokes the destruction or demise of the relationship. When the relationship falls into distrust, suspicion, anger, hate, confusion and retaliation, this gives birth to argument.§

Countries that have weak leadership and unstable governments that allow wrongdoing to become a way of life, deception to be the way of thinking, are participating in dividing the masses in this very way. People begin to distrust one another. Because they are involved in wrongdoing, they suspect others of being involved in wrongdoings. People become angry because they are involved in wrongdoing. And finally the country fails and goes into war or succumbs to innumerable internal problems. We see this happening all over the world. A strong democratic country is constantly showing up politicians who take bribes and presidents who are involved in deception and wrongdoing, who set a poor example for the masses as to how things should be. Higher-consciousness governments are able to maintain their economy and feed their people. Lower-consciousness governments are not.§

Even large, successful corporate monopolies deem honesty as the first necessary qualification for an employee. When his deception and wrongdoing are discovered, he is irrevocably terminated. There are many religious organizations today that have deceptive, dishonest people within them who connive wrongdoings, and these religious groups are failing and reaping the rewards of failing through loss and confusion. It is up to the heads of those organizations to weed out the deceptive, corruptive, virus-like persons to maintain the spirituality and fulfill the original intent of the founders.§

Ārjava could well be interpreted as simplicity, as many commentators have done. It is easier to remember the truth than remember lies—white lies, gray lies or black lies. It is easier to be straightforward than conniving and deceptive, dishonest. A simple life is an honest life. An honest life is a simple life. When our wants which produce our needs are simple, there is no need to be deceptive or participate in wrongdoing. It’s as simple as that. Ārjava means not complicating things, not ramifying concerns and anxieties. This is to say, when a situation occurs, handle the situation within the situation itself. Don’t use the emotion involved in the situation to motivate or manipulate for personal gain in another situation. Don’t owe people favors, and don’t allow people to owe you favors. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and do deliver what you promise. This is the Sanātana Dharma way. If the neo-Indian religion is teaching differently, pay no attention. It is all political, and it has no kinship to dharma.§