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Yama #2 Satya

April 22, 2013

Satya is the second Yama, which translates as truthful, honest, virtuous and genuine. Last week I wrote about the first Yama, Ahimsa which is non-violence, harmlessness.

Although the first in a list of the ancient texts always holds the greatest importance, these first two principals of Yama perfected together can change the world. Mahatma Gandhi sought to practice Ahimsa and Satya, non-violence and truth, and in doing so, freed India.

B.K.S. Iyengar writes in Light on Life, “The shame of violence, of harming others, is simply that it is an offence against underlying unity and therefore a crime against truth”.

In our daily life, Satya is more than just telling the truth to others. Self-deception is a favorite past-time of the mind, and it takes courage to face it and be truthful with ourselves.

In our yoga practice, we are truthful when we perform poses honoring the body’s current limitations and genuine when our poses arise from our true source, not from the ego.

In telling the truth to others, being truthful must always respect non-harming. Edwin F. Bryant explains in his book on the Yoga Sutras, “If observing one Yama results in the compromise of another, then Ahimsa (non-harming) must always be respected first”. If there is a truth to be spoken, it should not be spoken unkindly. To help with this, it is wise to use the four filters of speech:  “Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?”

Imagine a world where everyone honored Truthfulness and Non-harming. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.



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