Satya is the second yama, or ethical guideline, which is the 1st limb of yoga. It means truthfulness in body, speech and mind. When we practice satya, we endeavor to speak, think and act, inwardly and outwardly, in a manner that is free from distortion, pure of obscuration, and reflecting what we understand to be reality.
When one is firmly established in speaking truth, the fruits of action become subservient to him. – Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
We have many notions of truth and much of the time it seems to depend upon perspective. What appears to be true to one person is not always the case for another. So, it can be useful to consider two kinds of truth; conventional or relative truth and absolute truth. Relative truth is dependent upon causes and conditions – it is contextual, ever-changing and impermanent. Absolute truth is eternal and universal – a cause of things, not an effect of anything. It is essential, immutable, and beyond all concepts.
The senses are limited and can be fooled. Emotions are changeable and often result from distorted thinking. So how can we know absolute truth?
We can start by finding stillness so that we can awaken to inner knowing – a subtle phenomenon that is difficult to describe and can only be fully understood through direct experience. A mindful movement practice can settle the body, preparing us for meditation during which we cultivate single-pointed concentration and gain insight. In our daily lives we can do our best to stay curious and remain open to whatever arises, both internal and external. We can welcome information from the senses, observing thoughts and emotions while acknowledging their limitations. We can move beyond judgments of wanted, unwanted, pleasant and unpleasant, so that we can see things more clearly, as they truly are.
Asato Maa Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir Gamaya
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
“Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness to light
From death to immortality”
– Asato Maa, the Upanishads