How important is truthfulness in bhakti?
I humbly request you to help me understand the following matter in the proper perspective:
a) I find that by talking only of the four regulative actions (no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling, no intoxication), we have subdued the importance of the principle of truthfulness(one of the four principles of religion/dharma). Gambling is one of the activities which violate’s the principle of truthfulness. However there are other sinful actions which also affect truthfulness. For instance telling lies or cheating is against truthfulness.
b) Since devotion is the ultimate criteria (absolute criteria?) by which a devotee evaluates every action, the relationship between the principle of truthfulness and devotion is not clearly brought out and communicated.
c) Moreover, from your lectures we get the message that morality is relative and not absolute; you quote incidents where telling lies is OK because of a higher principle. ( You have also clarified the difference between ethics and morality in one of your lectures)
d) It is hence important to know how the principle of truthfulness affects cultivating devotion.
e) This clarification is required in the context of BG 7.28, where it is said that sinful actions will have to be stopped for engaging in devotional service; I presume that telling lies is a sinful action.
f) I am asking these questions because I find that devotees tell lies in work situations for their personal benefit, without hesitation under the pretext that it is for doing devotional service.
g) Can you also include the principle of “not being selfish” in your reply because there is a strong relationship between selfishness and devotion?
h) My realisation: Just like material detachment is an indicator of the advancement one has made in one’s spiritual journey, being moral (including truthfulness) is a barometer of the extent of material detachment. I hence feel that morality has a strong correlation with devotion.
i) Please enlighten me with your answer.