December Focus: Satya, Truthfulness

December Focus

Satya: Truthfulness

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What an interesting world we’re living in right now, where truthfulness, accountability, and right action are commonly questioned and looked at with a discerning eye. Luckily, we aspiring yogis who f
ollow the path of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are required to always be truthful through one of the social disciplines, or yamas. That social discipline is that of satya, which literally means “to speak the truth,” and while in theory it seems easy enough, there are many levels of the truthfulness that could create obstacles when working toward on honest existence. Below are some things to consider about our daily lives and following the discipline of truthfulness as we journey on our yogic path.

 

When one thinks of speaking the truth, we naturally associate that with our communication with others. In a paper published in 2010 in Human Communication Research, psychologist found that the average number of lies people tell per day is 1.65 lies. Doing pretty good, people! We might think that it would be higher considering that in our present society, the modes of communication seem endless. We have face to face, phone, snail mail (what’s that?), email, text, social media, and we’d think that each allow for a little more bending of the truth than the next. However, according to research done at Cornell University, the use of technology keeps us more honest, realizing that there’s a “digital trail” (formerly known as a paper trail, remember that?). We actually end up lying more face to face or over the phone because there is no record of what was said. Hmmm, sounds like we might need to work on the correlation between our audial communication and our “little white lies.”

 

Next, in regards to satya, how honest are we with ourselves? This is a different level of honesty where there is only personal accountability. Another way of thinking about lying to ourselves is the big ‘D’ word: Denial. You may have heard this acronym before, “Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying.” According to an article in Psychology Today there are 8 most common lies we tell ourselves, which include ignorance is bliss, how we like to be seen, and cherry picking data. (If you want to read the full article, click here.) While denial and self-deception may be an evolutionary survival skill, having awareness of our common self-lies might be a good method for us to stop and reflect on some of your own motivations and what you consider to be your “personal truths.”

 

The last aspect of truthfulness that we’ll mention is that of the honesty behind our actions. In yoga philosophy, we are asked over and over again to look at the intention behind the deeds that we do. The Buddha delineates the distinction between right and wrong intention. Right intention includes the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness. The opposite intentions include the intention governed by desire, the intention governed by ill will, and the intention governed by harmfulness. Right intention is the basis for right thinking and truthful and non-deceitful actions.

 

This post is only to offer some moments of self-reflection and self-study, which is naturally part of our ongoing yoga practice. We’ll finish with the words from Swami Satchidananda about satya, “With establishment in honesty, the state of fearlessness comes. One need not be afraid of anybody and can always lead an open life. When there are no lies, the entire life becomes an open book. But this comes only with an absolutely honest mind. When the mind becomes clear and serene, the true Self reflects without disfigurement, and we realize the Truth in its own original nature.” Sounds to us like to bliss and real freedom.

 

In gratitude & service,

Jacquelyn & Leigha