March Theme of the Mont. Satya: Truth will set you free
Satya, is the second of five yamas (restraints, also referred to as the yogic code of conduct) outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. It comes after Ahimsa (non-violence) and means “truthfulness”.
In a world where our major messaging channels, including politicians, media and advertisers often have a very lose commitment to truth-telling, we can often find ourselves struggling with our own relationship to truth, not to mention the confusion in trying to figure out what is true and real within our own hearts and lives.
From white lies and one sided story-telling at one end, to policies built on lies that deliberately harm, exclude and silence certain groups of people, at the other, how can we live a truth-centred life?
The first thing to do is to look closely at ourselves. Even if we feel we are pretty honest overall, we may notice a white lie slip in here and there and think it’s harmless, but this can snowball and cut us off from what is true and real.
Personally, while I feel I am an honest person, I also know I am prone to exaggeration and for a while there it was happening surprisingly easily, to the point where, I’d ‘remember’ the exaggerated version of events over the truth. I got a shock when I realised I had lied to myself! These exaggerations would largely happen because I didn’t pause to think/remember correctly the truth of the matter. I was speaking before thinking, and building a wall between myself and the truth! I also identify with coming from a line of storytellers, my Grandmother used to say “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” and we’d all laugh.
Whether you’re in the habit of telling white lie to avoid hurting people’s feelings, making an exaggeration for the benefit of a good story or allowing people to make incorrect assumptions about you/ your situation, and failing to reorient them to the truth; these habits are all violations of Satya and while they are not intended to harm but the more we do it the more we are cutting ourselves off from truth, and limiting our potential.
Satya is a commitment to truth, and it will require us to get uncomfortable at times. The truth is not always peace, love and rainbows. This is why Ahimsa comes first. When we observe kindness first we are able to find a way to share necessary truth in a more sensitive way and it begins to set us free.
In Yoga Sutra, 2.36 Patanjali writes "Satya- pratisthayam kriya-phalasrayatvam" When truth is firmly established the yogi attains the result of action without acting.
I other words, when we master Satya, we gain Siddhi- the power of manifesting, which reflects the truth of Atman (the higher Self, the liberated soul).
Committing to truth, in our thoughts, words and actions is the path to liberation. To practice yoga is to be willing to face parts of ourselves and work through old beliefs, karmas and patterns of behaviour that bind us.
The more we practice yoga and consciously seek to live in truth, the more will be revealed. Layer by layer, we can begin to unbind ourselves from avidya (misknowing) and the small self’s identification with body and mind and realise we our infinite potential and union with all things.
A few contemplations for you to meditate or journal on:
1) What is your relationship to truth?
2) What have you been untruthful about? Why? How does that make you feel?
3) When have you been truthful, even when it was hard? Why? How did that make you feel?
May the truth be with you.
See you on the mat!
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