Satya, in Sanskrit (the ancient language in which most yoga scriptures were written), means truthfulness. It is one of the virtues (or yamas) the old sages advised yogis to cultivate.
Truth is a funny concept. I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a context where, in order for something to be “true”, something else needed to be “false”. This right/wrong opposition helped me make my way into life and become a relatively functioning, independent adult. Indeed, 2+2= 4 and not 5, b+a make “ba” and not fi, and if I agree that today is Tuesday and not Monday, you and I can make an appointment. Distinguishing true from false, in one sense, enable us to live together and understand each other.
At the same time, this same opposition also brings a conflict. Not only can we “mask the truth” to someone else and lie (i.e., the opposite of truthfulness), but we also want to impose our “truth” over others’ perception of reality. Our history plagued by many religious wars, colonization, and demonization of the “other” (it being another political opinion, sexual orientation, race, nature, or else), which sad consequences are increasingly emerging those days, exemplifies such the expenses of this right/wrong conflict too well.
No matter whether our truth is objective or subjective, we humans seem to hold onto it. This is called righteousness. Even in yoga and meditation, some schools will tell you that their technique is “truer” than the other ones!
One could then ask, what is really true? How do we know?
Lying and righteousness are forms of protection. We all have lied and at times still do, more or less consciously. As a child, when I openly lied to say for example: “it wasn’t me”, although it was my mistake, I looked for protection. I did not want to feel shame or to be blamed, and I needed to feel loved and included.
Many of us, big grown-ups, are still walking around unconsciously looking for our needs for love and inclusion to be met. Therefore, we hold onto what we know, what we think is right or true, and we even refuse to see our own truth, which scares us immensely. Whatever the reason why we lie or hide the truth, we do based on fear.
Back to the Sanskrit and yoga, the root of the word truth or Satya is Sat. Sat means to exist or simply be. It describes the “beingness” that is our essential nature called the pure Self or the Heart in yoga, or Selflessness in Buddhism.
In other words, (this is why I love looking at Sanskrit etymology so much) eventually truth is nothing else than pure being.
One way we can free our mind from its own limitations and fear-driven patterns is to regularly touch a state of being. Yoga, meditation, nature hikes, reading about ancient wisdom, watching the sunset, writing what we have gratitude for, dancing, music, painting or simply closing your eyes for two minutes are all examples of how we can touch such state.
If we cultivate a connection to, let’s call it, this inner truth with a regular practice, being respectful to ourselves and others and speaking the truth naturally becomes easier. The need and perhaps ability to lie decreases and our openness to others’ perception of the world simply expands. Slowly, we begin to think, speak, and act based on what we deeply love rather than we viscerally fear.
Whatever yours is, thank you for your practice.
Thank you for making, in this way, a true difference in the world and contribute positively to where we are heading, both as individuals and as a collective.