Satya: truth

Saturday, 26 September 2020 15:58
The second Yama is Satya, meaning truthfulness.
“There is no virtue greater than truth; there is no sin greater than falsehood. Therefore a mortal being should take refuge in truth with his/her entire self.” (From Mahānirvāna-Tantra 4.45)
What is truth?
It seems to be becoming increasingly subjective. And today we seem to be surrounded by lies and pretence from politics, media, the legal system, big business to our personal relationships. Non-truths seem to becoming the norm. 
“Morally, we almost enjoy inhabiting large grey areas where neither truth or falsehood is thought to apply.’’ (Feuerstein, G Yoga Morality, Hohm Press, 2007 p.125)
These grey areas seem to spring from jettisoning the previous black-and-white morals of earlier times, encompassing our expanding integration with a variety of morals applied from culture to culture. Bringing us to a point of ‘whatever goes’. This embodiment is, in a way, a positive reformation, but many are lost in a sea of choices and lack of direction.
The body tells the truth
This newfound expression of ourselves often is applied indiscriminately with little concern to the morals involved or the consequences (see last week on the morals of eating), usually with the intent of personal advantage. We feel pressured by the demands of living in the modern material world, helpless to implement change, and blinkered by the corrupt and greedy environment we are sucked into.
Satya, as with Ahimsa, as we saw last week, is in action, thought and speech. Truthfulness is firmly established in the moral principle of non-harming. One leads to the other. This gives us a road in to finding and maintaining our own version of the truth based on the construct of non-harming. 
Unfortunately, Patanjali does not give specifics on truth. We are without guides except to explore our own motivations and our own moral conditioning based on our life experiences. Many beliefs are based on our limited judgements. The translation of Sutra 2.36 by BKS Iyengar: “When the sadhaka is firmly established in the practice of truth, his/her words become so potent that whatever he/she says comes to realisation.” (Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Thorsons, 2002, p.150) Here, Patanjali refers to truth in words; language, dialogue being what makes humans powerful, inspiring or frightening. This could mean that those who are firmly established in Truth may obtain special powers. Or alternatively those speaking the truth may be inspiring and may initiate the truth.
As Satya is one of the Yamas, the concept of truth relates to that of restraint, so carefully considering our words and what the effect will be seems central to our understanding. Taking the time to observe and question your motivations give direct clues to behaviour, and its resulting language and the essence of truth.
Truth is another word for transcendental Reality, the search for the Self. BKS Iyengar says: “The aim of yoga is to attain perfection of the intellect, both of the head and the heart, so that the artist becomes devoted, true and pure.” (The Art of Yoga, HarperCollins, 2005 p.13)
Get on your mat, find your truth :)
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