Author, meditation teacher and founder of the Dharana Institute, Sally Kempton explores lying and truth-telling:
“On a 1 to 10 scale, with polite lies (“No, that dress doesn’t make you look fat”) at the low end, and outrageous, destructive lies… at the high end, your worst falsehoods would probably rate no more than a 3 or 4. Yet those lies are probably lodged in your psyche, still giving off smoke. You can justify them, but some part of you feels the effect of every lie you’ve told. How? In the cynicism, distrust, and doubt that you feel toward yourself, and in your own tendencies to suspect other people of either lying or concealing the truth from you.”
A whole range of perspectives on truthfulness exist: absolutism, relativism (tell the truth unless it benefits you to not do so), and various combinations of balance and discernment. An approach of no lies, exaggerations or fudging may ultimately be the easiest and healthiest because it requires no energy to keep stories straight, no guarding against a slippery slope, no misalignment with reality and creating cognitive dissonance. However sometimes it may seem like it is not the simplest way – there might be sorting of larger and smaller truths and uncovering what else wants to be revealed as well.
Radical truth-telling is simple, and when done well, it includes self-inquiry to discover what else calls to be shared. What else are you experiencing in the moment, what else is being recalled from the past, and what else may be imagined about the future?