SATYA

The jewel of Satya is the most straight forward of the Yamas. The word is derived from the root satmeaning “to be” and translates to truthfulness. It asks us to be honest with ourselves and to be authentic and real in our lives. 

The practice of ahimsa (non-violence) and Satya (truthfulness) are the perfect marriage. Satya invites us “to see the truth” and “to see clearly” so that we can practice ahimsa. Truth demands integrity and asks us to stay present even when it is difficult. When we run from life or try to manage life it leaves our energy scattered and we may not feel our thoughts, words, and actions are in sync. When we are centered in the moment, we can fully meet the ordinariness of life as well as the challenges of life. Dishes are met with the same contact as are arguments as are hugs. 

When we are true to ourselves it frees up energy. Have you ever said yes to someone and really wanted to say no? And then worried how you were going to find the time to commit and felt stress or dread. Or maybe even broke your promise in the end and then felt worse. So much energy is wasted when we are not true in the first place. It is better to be real then it is to be nice. Maybe we are worried what others will think about us if we say no or that they will be upset with us. But when we say yes from a place of truth, it is true generousity. This frees up energy and vitality and we feel the juiciness of being alive. Everyone around us benefits for the aliveness that we feel. 

We may not always like others when they are real but when someone is truthful with themselves then we know they are trustworthy. Can you trust yourself? Can you risk telling yourself the truth? Can you keep the promises you make to yourself and to others? We must be willing to take the risk to tell ourselves the truth. Being truthful with ourselves makes us trustworthy and frees up energy we may spend on regret. What would life look like if you were willing to contact truthfulness in every moment? 

Truth in our lives is always changing, so it asks us to pay attention moment by moment. What was true for us as a child is no longer true when we are an adult. Truth changes over time and we need to update our beliefs and values and views in order to stay current with ourselves and our surroundings. 

Ghandi said his life was an experiment with truth. This captures the power that living with truth has. A poor, colonized country united in nonviolence gaining its freedom; a dominant country brought to its knees. This is arguable the greatest nonviolent revolution in history and all because of one man’s experiment with truth. 

Satya is not something you do but a way we express in each and every moment a deep commitment and care to the web of life of which we are only a part. The first step of yoga is to start where we are, and this usually means recognizing where there is discontent or suffering. Instead of truthfulness, Michael stones prefers to use the word “honesty” as it is more subjective and personally authentic. It invites us to be honest in every aspect of our personal and cultural lives, from how we speak with others to how we determine how much we really need. He also says that one of the most important issues on which we can put Satya to work is the issue of personal and collective consumption and our skewed ideas about what we need. Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base. It is exacerbating inequalities and causing irreparable damage to the body of the world. Honesty is not looking away from suffering and making better choices. 

To be honest in speech, to honestly look at the mind and our habits of deception is no small enterprise, and the path of yoga encourages a path without escape. We all have the capacity to wake up, act honestly, and make choices from a place of compassion; yet, we also have the opposite tendency: to shut down, return to our habitual grooves, and act out of our most unconscious habits. Satya invites us to wake to each moment. 

I believe Shakespeare’s quote sums up Satya perfectly “This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” May you be honest with yourself, with others, and with the earth. May the light of truth shine from your heart and may this contribute to peace in the world. Namaste.

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