“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
“What is truth?” (John 18:38)
Yesterday, I was pondering the yogic concept of avidya. This term can be translated as “incorrect comprehension” or “faulty perception.” Everyone gets trapped in avidya; some people live their entire lives caught in it.
Avidya exists and grows due to our ego which convinces us that we are the best, the smartest, etc. – or that we must somehow become so at all costs. Avidya is nourished by our constant desires and attachments (in all forms) and our tendency to reject anything that we judge to be “bad” for us. How can we ever know what is really “good” or “bad” for us – or in any situation?
Finally, avidya clings to us through the various fears and doubts that assail us at every turn. The ultimate fear is the fear of death.
The opposite of avidya is vidya which means “clear seeing” or “correct perception.” We find this place during those times (usually fleeting moments) when we manage to uproot our ego, desires, aversions and fears. In “clear seeing,” we experience profound peace. All tension and restlessness melt away. We perceive and accept ourselves and the world as they actually are.
I suddenly realized this “clear seeing” is what Jesus was referring to when he said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Christians, of course, believe that Jesus is The Truth. Yogis agree in the sense that Jesus was the embodiment of “clear seeing” and he came to teach us that way to freedom.
When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth,” Jesus did not answer him. The answer, in my opinion, is vidya – clear, correct perception of reality. Jesus chose not to answer Pilate because he knew Pilate would not understand. A person’s soul must be ready for the profound teachings of a master like Jesus. A true master does not try to teach a person who isn’t ready to be taught.
May we all cut away the obstacles that keep us from seeing clearly. May we all find the peace of Jesus, the peace that comes from correct perception of reality.