When we know the truth, the truth shall set us free
Daily Mirror Editorial
Feb 8, 2011

Amid the euphoria after the Independence Day parades and pageantry, pomp and pious pronouncements, we need to reflect deeply on the truth of truths -- that only the Truth can set us really free. This will prompt the question, what is Truth?

According to the core teachings and essence of all religions, true freedom must begin with the gradual inner liberation from selfishness and self-centredness. Possibly due to some genetic factor, we are born with a selfish nature that makes us want to be the centre of attention.

As an infant and in childhood we cry or howl for this attention. As we grow into adulthood we continue to do this though we use sophisticated, subtle and sometimes deceptive ways to be the centre of attention to obtain personal gain or glory, power, prestige or popularity.

When we are enslaved to selfishness or self-centredness we put on an act and pretend to have care and concern for the needs and wishes of others but deep within we are seeking to achieve our desires or wishes and we often use or abuse others for this purpose.

When Shakespeare said that the world’s a stage and we are actors or actresses, he was not referring only to Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, but to all the people. We are acting in the great drama of life. Others know we are acting, we know they are acting and the acting or hypocrisy and deception go on.

Political leaders especially need to come to a realization that only the Truth can set them free to sincerely, selflessly and sacrificially serve the people who have elected them to be good and just stewards. Tragically most political leaders – still enslaved to selfishness and seeking power, prestige, popularity and wealth – are not serving the people but have become lords or masters who plunder and pillage the people’s wealth and resources.

The deception and hypocrisy have been going on for too long and must stop now before it is too late and there is an implosion or a popular uprising by the people as we saw in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and are seeing in Syria now.

Political leaders especially and other leaders also need to realise the main teaching of all religions and the great lesson of history that selfishness will never make them happy and will never work. Instead it will make them unhappy and miserable. Worse still the people also will be unhappy and miserable and all might end up in a hell of a mess.

Stirring military parades, Jayamangalagathas and other external events give some temporary inspiration. But true and lasting freedom is much deeper and we hope our political leaders will be ready and willing to experience inner spiritual liberation from slavery to selfishness, so that they and the country will be really and truly free to march towards the vision of social justice and unity in diversity, and we will have a nation of Good Samaritans who serve the people and help even their enemies instead of acting like sanctimonious humbugs.

For this to happen, the leaders of all religions – Mahanayake Theras, the Cardinal and leaders of the Hindu and Islamic faiths need to come together to guide the destiny of this nation and advise the political leaders on how to bring about sincere reconciliation, lasting peace and justice.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka