Working on this blog about Satya was tougher than I expected. You would think it would be easy to write about honesty and how to integrate that into daily life, but my mind hasn’t been able to tap into that yogi stillness that we’re all searching for.
Since I was having trouble organizing my thoughts, I decided to go back to basics. I grabbed all of my books that covered the sutras to explore a wide variety of perspectives, and decided to brush up on my knowledge of Satya.
Satya means being truthful and honest in action, thoughts, and words. It follows Ahimsa in the Yamas of the Eight Limbs of Yoga outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Satya follows Ahimsa for a reason, and that is because we should never use the truth as a means of violence or harm towards others.
I was puzzled about how being truthful and honest can be used against a person. I am aware that sometimes the truth hurts, but when do we choose Ahimsa over Satya? When does honesty become violent? How do we know the difference between the truth being hard vs. the truth being harmful? Here are a few examples that I came to understand:
1. Be Mindful In Our Approach With Words
It wouldn’t be kind to tell someone that they looked fat. It wouldn’t be kind to tell someone they were stupid and annoying. It wouldn’t be kind to tell someone their hair looked ugly, or to blatantly put them down in a hurtful way.
This reaction happens when someone has hurt us, but handling it negatively has negative karmic effects. It continues to fuel the fire and sets a bad example. In order to practice Satya genuinely, we must be unattached to the harm that someone has caused, and authentically tell someone the effect of his or her actions in the most mindful way possible.
Perhaps the result and reaction will still be negative, but as long as we become unattached and move forward with good intentions, we learn to let go, set a good example, and change karma. It also just feels empowering to know you handled something with grace and kindness.
2. Protecting From Violence Overrides Truthfulness
You wouldn’t want to put anyone in danger. Imagine that you know someone who was being physically abused by her partner or parent, and she went away to a secret shelter. It would go against ahimsa to tell the abuser the location where the person was located.
If you knew they were going to cause physical harm, then in this case, the information should remain confidential.
3. Sometimes, the truth can be scary
Sometimes the intentions aren’t harmful, but the truth can be scary. The longer we hide the truth, the bigger the burden, and the stronger the hurt. Regardless, when we know the truth can hurt others, it can be hard to discuss, and that’s a burden in itself.
This weekend my family and I participated in a fundraiser and walkathon for Free To Breathe, which is the fundraising chapter of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. Last December, my uncle passed away from Lung Cancer. Although he was a smoker his whole life, this was rapid and completely unexpected.
I think about my uncle, my family, his friends, the doctors, and everyone that had to tell someone, and be faced with this truth. I think about everyone in the world that has to be faced with hard truths like this everyday. These situations can be devastating, but the only way to continue down the path towards happiness is to explore what lesson came out of it.
Did this situation make me stronger? Did it bring the family closer? Did it teach me that what I think are problems really aren’t problems at all? Did it better prepare me for handling difficult situations in the future? Did it teach me to take less for granted? In my case, all of the above.
4. Sometimes we lie to ourselves because we don’t want to accept the truth, but when we actually admit the truth to ourselves, we let go of that fear
We let go of what has been holding us back. This stems from old impressions that happened in our childhood. Perhaps we sabotage success because we don’t feel deserving, or we keep lingering bad relationships because of a need for approval that we never received in the past.
It’s normal to place blame on others for our suffering, but if we can look deep within and admit the truth, it’s the first stage in letting go of our fears and moving forward. Admitting the truth is liberating. When we do this, we change the mindset, and our truths will begin to manifest.
5. Sometimes people don’t tell the truth out of selfishness
Do you hide the truth from someone because you don’t want to see him or her be successful? In this case, one might omit facts or be dishonest for their own personal gain. This action is a weight in itself because of the energy that is being put into lying and worrying about someone else’s path. This is only going to lead to suffering.
Focus on your passion and what makes you happy. Letting go of this allows a natural flow of goodness and success to come. Don’t lose sight of the drishti, and you’ll find that your path unravels with fluid and ease.
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How do you practice Satya in your daily life? How do you handle a hard truth? How can we help others practice Satya?
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To Open Hearts & Happy Thoughts,