The Yoga Tutor

Satya - Truth (Part A)

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 219 ]

"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 entire self... All right actions are rooted in truth. Nothing is superior to truth."
~ Mahanirvana Tantra

Satya, or "truth," is the next yama in yoga and one of the most important aspects of conduct for the Higher Life. Mahatma Gandhi said "the truth is God and God is the truth."

As fire burns the impurities and refines the gold, so the fire of truth purifies the yogi and burns the impurities within him/her. As stated in the VEDAS, "The truth is the one who rules the earth, the water and the entire Cosmos." The Mahabharata, the great Indian epic, even claims:

"If the merits of one thousand Asvamedha (sacrificial rituals) could be put in balance with the merits of satya (truth), then the truth will prevail."

Truth in Thought, Word and Deed

Satya at the level of speech means that we must refrain from saying what we know is false, yet also that we must not mislead others by allowing them to think that we know something when in fact we do not -- or that we just presume to know.

In this way, satya also means the avoidance of exaggerations, vagueness and evasiveness, pretence and all other manner of saying or doing things which one knows is not in accordance with absolute truth.

For this reason as well, the yogi also refrains from making definitive statements about that which he/she is not entirely certain.

Merely restraining oneself from uttering an untruth is the simplest first stage of satya. However, lies exist not only in speech. One may also lie through their actions, if for example their actions lead another to believe that they have done something that they haven’t, nor had even in mind to do.

So, along with controlling our speech, a wider meaning of satya must also be given -- that of truth in thought and in action.

Thinking an untruth, yet holding back from uttering or displaying it is not the proper observance of satya. The yogi has not firmly established him/herself in truth until they have eradicated the propensity to even conceive of an untruth within their mind.

The yogi dedicates each moment of his/her life to truth in its widest meaning, which necessitates an ever watchfulness of the constant activities of the mind. This involves always thinking in terms of the highest principles with which we are able. Our attitudes and our every thought should be consistently in accordance these principles.

"All human activities are performed as grace to the word… therefore, the human that disgraces the word, the source and foundation for all activities, being insincere or incorrect in his language, can be said to become a thief of all things, which he perverts."
~ Manu

To respect this, the yogi must refrain from any exaggeration, false claim, ambiguity, half-truth, inconsistency and deliberately confusing expression in not only speech, but in thought and action as well...

 Satya - Part B >>

NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

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