As famously outlined by Patanjali in The Yoga Sutras, the path of yoga starts out by observing certain ethical or moral rules; The Yamas and the Niyamas. The Yamas concern how we use our energy in relationships to others. There are five yamas. The first one is Ahimsa, which translates to non-violence, or non-harming, in thoughts, words and action. The second one is Satya -- truthfulness. Which is the yama I would like to discuss here.
I don't see myself as a pathological liar or anything, but I have definitely been known to lie over the course of my medium-length life. And the lies I have told (and sometimes, continue to tell) usually fall into two categories.
1. I lie to protect or boost my own ego.
2. I lie to protect someone else's ego. I guess the second category involves the kind of lies commonly known as white lies.
Within category 1 the kind of lies I have been known to tell are:
A. Lying about wrong-doings. It wasn't me who ate the cookies (to mom and dad). Oh yes, I've kept up with the meditation practices (to the spiritual teacher). It wasn't me that revealed your deep and dark secret (to a friend). Or: I never shop at H&M because I don't want to support such evil corporations (but I shop at Cos and Other Stories which I know are owned by H&M ...)
B. Embellishing. ... and then thousands upon thousands of bats flew out ... (when in reality it was tops 35) I traveled all over India (when in reality I visited 8 of the 29 states). Another example of this is the CV. Adding months or years to the length of employments. On paper turning internships into jobs. Making it sound like I've studied with certain people or certain topics for years when in reality I just attended a workshop.
C. Sometimes flat out making shit up that I feel makes me seem like a better person than I am. Example: Oh James Joyce is a genius (when in fact I've made it no more than 10 pages into any of his novels).
In category 2 the lies often take the form of compliments to a friend on their new art piece/performance/dress that in reality I didn't like and thereby shouldn't be worthy of compliments.
Or, I keep a (perceived) truth from a friend because I think that the friend will be hurt if she finds out. Uncomfortable observations about her new boyfriend/girlfriend for example. Or, I won't tell her that I've made plans with a mutual friend and she's not invited along for whatever reason.
I wonder if in the end, category 2 is not also about protecting my own ego? Because if my friend gets sad/angry/upset/disappointed it causes me discomfort. And the ego doesn't like to be uncomfortable. Any discomfort threatens it.
How many of our actions, our words and thoughts are really about protecting our egos?