Article by Kino MacGregor
Satya, truthfulness, is the second of the yamas, the moral and ethical guidelines for yogic living. While the basic principles of truth, honesty and candor are easy to agree upon in an abstract sense, the reality is that adhering to a high standard of truthfulness is not easy for anyone. Nearly 100% of human beings admit to outright lying. Many more lie or at least withhold or deny the truth when they are triggered or feel defensive and fragile. Whether big or small we all tell a series of lies, half truths or omissions throughout the day. We lie to ourselves about things we would rather not face. We lie to others about how we’re feeling, how our business is doing or any other number of things. We lie publicly to save face rather than admit our mistakes and just sit with the discomfort.
The whole promise of yoga rests on the notion that yoga is a path that diverges from the average. It isn’t easy, but all the hard work that is spent on the mat in challenging asanas only begins to mean something when it translates into substantive life change. The commitment of satya is one example that sets the bar for the yogi quite high. Being established in satya means speaking the truth and being impeccable with your word. The commitment not to lie brings the stated boon of having all your words fulfill their intent.
Think about how many times you’ve written out a list of intentions only to have the opposite happen. Well, according to yoga philosophy once you are established in the practice of truthfulness then your word will never return void. Instead, your word will act as a covenant that will accomplish what it sets out to. That’s pretty powerful, if only we can learn to adhere to satya in all situations.
But, truth does not exist in a vacuum and there are many levels of moral relativity that often cloud our judgement about it. For example, we can speak the truth without love or kindness. In doing so, we weaponize the truth for personal vindication instead of maximizing the impact of truth as liberation. Sometimes when people say that they are going to “share their truth” what is really happening is that they are going on a personal emotional rant without boundaries. Sharing the “truth” may in fact be quite different than just vomiting up your emotions at all times. Sometimes truth requires genuine self-reflection and time to pause, feel and process both the inner and the outer reality in any situation. The truth can be often be hidden or at least not easily recognized, so sometimes ample research must be done before truth-telling happens in earnest.