Since the recent election I have encountered many people, young and old, who feel deeply disheartened by all the resentment, hatred and division that have been stirred up. Many also feel discouraged by all the false promises, “fake news” and betrayals of the public trust. Amidst the distribution of outright lies, I keep thinking of an old story from India about the spread of poison and the need to tell the truth.
The tale begins when a child, playing with a ball, is bitten by a poisonous snake. By the time the parents arrive the venom has spread, leaving the little one unconscious. With no doctor near, they carry the child to a local monk and implore the holy man to save the youngster. The monk declares that he is not the kind of religious person who knows how to heal.
The parents pleaded that someone on a spiritual path must have the power to perform an act of truth that could reverse the course of the poison. Saying that he only knew the truth of his own life, the monk placed his hand upon the child’s head. He then revealed that he had long before lost any sense of true holiness and only kept up a saintly appearance. No sooner had this act of truth been made than the eyes of the child opened again.
The holy man insisted that the father use his power to tell the truth to remove more poison. With his hands on his child’s chest, the father confessed that though widely respected and envied for his wealth and position, he never felt generous to others or fulfilled within himself. He owned that he felt empty inside despite all his power and wealth. After this act of truth the child sat up but could not stand or move from the spot.
The father asked the mother to use her power of truth to save their child. She spoke the truth she carried in her heart: that her child was the only one she had ever loved, that her marriage brought her no love and that she remained in it only out of fear. No sooner was the act of truth performed than the remaining poison left the child, who rose up and began to play with the ball again.
The child in the story can represent all the children of the future being harmed by the growing poisons in the present culture. The ball can represent the world itself, which seems to hang in the balance between falseness and truth. In order to stop the spread of poison, the adults must come to an understanding that those who fail to act in accord with their deepest sense of self not only negate the spirit of their own lives, but also endanger others by adding to the poison in the world.
There are times when it becomes necessary for people to stand for something genuine in order to reverse the course of life that has become so deeply poisoned. Any true stand must begin in the depths of the soul where the truth resides and waits to be raised to the light of day. In the face of all the false rhetoric it becomes easier to forget that we are in a struggle for the sanctity of our own souls as well as a battle for the Soul of the World.
Genuine change begins in the depths of the individual soul and this is the struggle we came for; this is the healing we came to help create. Something deep in our hearts instinctively stands with those who are standing at Standing Rock, braving the winds of arrogance and falsehood that poison both nature and culture. We can see that standing for the truth and speaking truth to power can reverse the course of greed and exploitation.
There are truths set within the soul that can be a medicine and an antidote against the rampant falsehoods and manipulations increasingly being used to create fear and havoc and gain power. It is not enough to simply decry the fake news and false facts being used to justify the worst of our instincts and feelings.
ahatma Gandhi drew upon ancient stories when he named his stand against tyranny and social injustice satyagraha which translates as “the force of truth.” Satya can mean “truth in speech,” but it also implies love and beauty. A similar idea appears in the Ode to Innocence where the poet John Keats states: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all you know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
I know that most of you work in some way to bring truth and healing to the world. Some work in the trenches of the environmental movement, some in the streets for social justice. Others offer therapy and mentoring and many make beauty through art and music. All true paths are healing paths and all need to be supported. This is the time to take a stand for truth and beauty and support the healing work that resonates with your soul. If that support includes Mosaic, we are deeply grateful to you. Meanwhile, we support your efforts to bring truth and beauty and love to a world in desperate need of healing.