After teaching a corporate yoga class the other morning, I decided to head to the Clarendon Starbucks (sorry, Arlington, VA for those reading unfamiliar with the DC area) to grab a warm drink and read. I had about 20 minutes to kill before heading to my private client’s house around the corner so I decided to sit.
After sitting at the community table (i.e. a long table with multiple strangers, each doing their own thing), I stood up to put my coat on, my book in my bag and exit. The guy across from me said “that was fast”. The guy’s friend just smiled politely. Then the “guy” said “so you’re a yoga instructor?” (side note: Clearly this “guy” just eavesdropped on a conversation I had moments before with someone who I use to work with eons ago at MCI. The ex-MCI colleague happen to recognize me as he was making his departure. He stopped and we caught up on jobs, life, stuff.)
The conversation with the guy/stranger went like this:
-guy: I have a “good” friend who’s a yoga instructor. He’s been teaching yoga “for like 12 years”.
-me: “Oh really, what’s his name?”
-guy: (Long silence with his eyes squinting, and his friend & me staring at him)
-guy’s friend: “I thought you said he was your friend???”
-me: “…a good friend?”
-guy: “His name is XXX” (me here: I don’t remember the name). Then the “guy” continues to say “I wasn’t expecting you to ask for his name so quickly”.
-me: “Well, I don’t know him (with a smile). Have a nice weekend.”
As I walked away, I was thinking what kind of “good” friend was this…someone he met on the metro once and never saw again. Or maybe he’s just a facebook friend. And as we all know, facebook has somewhat become a violation of satya…I mean take inventory of how many of your “facebook friends” are truly friends vs. acquaintances. I am at full violation here. Do you think I really have 600+ friends?
Anyway, on the walk to my car after this brief Starbucks encounter I felt lied to. Here I didn’t even know the “guy” nor his Starbucks friend (or the yoga instructor). I’m assuming he was trying to impress me but why? Suddenly I felt sorry for the “guy”. If he’s telling a little white lie to a stranger, then what types of lies does he tell his “real” friends or even just facebook friends?
Why? Why tell a lie even if it’s small and meaningless? Coincidentally, I had a copy of The Yoga Sutras in hand (that was the book I had been sitting in Starbucks reading & placing in my bag as the “guy” tried to name his yoga instructor friend). In hindsight, I should have opened it up and read sutra 2.36 that specifically speaks about satya (satya is Sanskrit for truth)…“To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.”
More on satya (truth) as explained further by Swami Satchidananda in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: “The more we lead a life of honesty, the more we will see the results, and that will encourage us to be more honest. With establishment in honesty, the state of fearlessness comes. One need not be afraid of anybody and can always lead an open life. When there are no lies, the entire life becomes an open book. But this comes only with an absolutely honest mind. When the mind becomes clear and serene, the true Self reflects without disfigurement, and we realize the Truth in its own original nature.”
Start with your words. Think the truth. Speak the truth and then your actions will be true. From there (with practice & patience), you’ll stand in your truth. Trust me, satya/sutra 2.36 is a big sutra to fill and I often catch myself telling the little white lie. So I must say: thank you Starbucks “guy” for reminding me to speak the truth, act the truth and live the truth.