The Power of Truth
By Daw Wai Wai Lwin

A long time ago, in a deep forest near the city of Benares, in India, there lived a handsome youth by the name of Suvannasama, with his old and blind parents. He was given that name because of his golden complexion. Suvannasama means golden. Since he was a young boy Suvannasama took care of his parents’ daily needs.
His only friends were the deer who helped him daily to carry food and water to his hut.

At that time the king of Benares was Piliyakkha. The king was very fond of venison. One day while he was out hunting for deer he saw a stalwart creature with long golden mane at the head of a deer herd. He mistakenly took that vision to be the leader of the herd and aimed his bow and arrow at it and took a long shot. The arrow penetrated the body of Suvannasama. King Piliyakkha was full of remorse when he found that his victim was not a golden deer but a golden youth who was taking care of his old and blind parents. Immediately the king rushed and kneeled to Dukula and Parika, Suvannasama’s parents. He begged for forgiveness.

“I am the king of Benares. I shot Suvannasama with my bow and arrow, mistaking him for a deer,” he said. “He is badly wounded, and on the verge of dying. I will do everything in my power to save him; however, if I cannot accomplish that, please let me take your son’s place. I will serve you and take care of you as your own son.”

Dukula and Parika were stricken with helpless grief. How can anyone take the place of your own child in the parents’ heart? Tears came down from their eyes uncontrollably and they entreated the king to take them to their son. They found Suvannasama still breathing when they reached him. Immediately, Dukula took his head on his lap and Parika his feet on hers. Then, they made the asseveration of truth. “We swear by the truth that we have never harmed any creature throughout
our lives. We have abstained from killing any living being, we have abstained from stealing anyone’s property although we have nothing, and we have abstained from committing any adultery. We have abstained from telling any untruth, and we have abstained from taking any kind of drug even though our lives have been very hard
from disability and poverty,” they uttered very firmly in unison. “If what we had just sworn is the truth and nothing but the truth, may we see our son, Suvannasama restored to life.”

Dukala and Parika’s voices echoed throughout the forest. At that moment, Suvannasama’s mother from his past existence heard their oath. She was reborn as a goddess ( Nathami) in this existence. Her name was Bahu Sundari, which means beautiful and lovable. Immediately, Bahu Sundari appeared at Suvannasama’s side.
She knew that Dukula and Parika were swearing the truth; so, she joined in by asserting solemnly and firmly the following truth. “Suvannasama was my son in the past existence. I was reborn as goddess Bahu Sundari and he as Suvannasama. Although he is not my son any longer in this existence, I am still guiding him and guarding him from harm. It is true that Suvannasama had been a good and dutiful son and had been taking care of his blind parents, Dukula and Parika since he was
a very young boy. I swear faithfully by the truth of these words. And, by their truthfulness may Suvannasama be restored to life.”
Suddenly, all the creatures by Suvannasama’s side, King Piliyakkha and his entourage and the deer witnessed a miracle, in the golden colors of the setting sun. They saw Suvannasama stood up, and they heard Dukula and Parika cried, rubbing their eyes with their hands, “We can see, we can see Suvannasama standing there. Oh, our asseveration of truth has restored our son and our vision back to us.”

The above tale portrays the importance of truth. Buddha preached that all living beings should be truthful. No one would admit and shout clearly “I am a very cruel person, I have lived a very sinful life. I kill, I steal. I lie, I commit adultery, I am a drug addict or I am an alcoholic”, even if it is true. It is human nature to want admiration, love and respect. So, everyone who leads evil lives would try to conceal their evil deeds even from themselves. They will live a life of lie, pretending both to themselves and others that whatever they are doing is right. They will justify their actions, and rationalize their wrongful deeds with logical explanations.

So, it is important to see the truth, and built up the strength to face and live by the truth. It is important to be true to yourself. If you can look in the mirror at the end of each day and say, “Yes, this is me. I did a wrongful deed today and I lied to my parents or my teachers or my friends, because I was afraid. I have not been loyal enough or strong enough to tell the truth. I was afraid to face the consequences of my wrongful action. I thought concealing the truth by lying would make me feel strong, but in fact I feel guilty and weak.”

As soon as you start doing that, you will find yourself trying to improve your behavior by concentrating and cultivating awareness of your thoughts, words and actions. You will try to get the right view of things as they are, and to make clear and right decisions. Buddha, in his teachings emphasized the importance of  cultivating awareness to see things clearly and build up the strength and ability to live and stand by the truth.

It is true that, to observe and live by the five precepts is wholesome action (kusala kamma), taking care of your own parents any time and at any age is wholesome action (kusala kamma), and taking care of the old and the feeble is wholesome action (kusala kamma). However, to be able to see and stand by the truth supersedes all of them. Until and unless you are aware of the truth and see the truth clearly, you will never be able to distinguish between goodwill and illwill, good thoughts and bad thoughts, good words and bad words, good deeds and bad deeds. Buddha preached that the right view is an important essence of a happy and peaceful life. In Pali right view is called Samma Ditthi.

Until and unless you have the right and correct view you will never be able to see what is right and what is wrong. Your life will be full of delusion (moha), which Buddha had preached, was the root of greed (lobha), and anger (dosa). Lobha and dosa in their turn are the root of all the suffering (dukkha) that prevails in this world. So, in order to live a peaceful existence you need to be aware of your thoughts, words, and actions, at all times. Then only will you be able to look in the mirror each day and say, “Yes, today has been a fruitful day. I am happy. I have not committed any shameful or wrongful deed.” If you can say that at the end of each day, you will find happiness and peace in your everyday life. Not only that, you will also find yourself making clear and good decisions and become successful
in whatever you set out to do.