There is a quote that is the complete opposite of this sutra, attributed to Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels: If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and even you will come to believe it yourself. This phenomenon of the illusion of truth is also observed in the field of psychology. In this experiment, test subjects were given trivia. And the more the trivia is repeated, the more it was taken as the truth. The explanation is that the human brain takes a shortcut, so we judge the reliability of information based on how often we’ve heard it. Does it mean, then, that human rationality is doomed?
The phenomenon calls upon us, now more than ever, to pause before we repeat what we have heard. If we are unsure about whether something is true or not, we can fact-check. Let us be contributors to truth prevailing. Let us stop fake news. Let us stop the culture of spreading myths in lieu of facts. On a personal level, we can also start to examine the storylines we tell ourselves. Do we repeat belief systems that are not only untrue but also keep us in misery? What if we changed our approach and started to speak the truth about ourselves as well?
The yoga sutra and the quote by Joseph Goebbels are certainly two different perspectives. And while the latter can give us control and power, it is only through the former that we can attain ultimate freedom. As yogis, it is apparent what values we hold— freedom over oppression, kindness over control, and truth over lies. Always choose the truth.