Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

What is Satya? by Kai Walter

Satya is a Sanskrit term which refers to one of the key Yamas, the Yamas being the first Limb of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as delineated by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, a cornerstone of yoga philosophy. The Yamas and their counterparts, the Niyamas, are the very roots of yoga, and are therefore discussed prior to the other limbs of yoga, namely Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. The last four limbs pertain to Raja Yoga (see “Yoga”link), and the first four pertain to Hatha Yoga.

TheYamas are ethical recommendations that, when practiced diligently, help to harmonize our interrelations with others and with the Totality of which we are a part. Satya means “truth” and “truthfulness”, and is, along with Ahimsa (non-harming, loving kindness) one of the truly essential Yamas.

Satya can be understood at two levels, the level of the Absolute, and the level of the Relative. At the Absolute level, Satya refers to embodying completely the Truth of what we really are and always have been. In the yoga of self-inquiry (Jnana Yoga), we discover that we are not the body, the mind, our thoughts, or our emotions. In other words, what we truly are is beyond name, form and all self-imposed limitations. We are both nothing and everything.

A deepening, lived understanding (not merely an intellectual understanding) of the Truth of what we really are is a sign that Satya is beginning to manifest as a truth-force within us which has the power to dispel all worldly illusions and all attachment to that which is illusory (ie.impermanent). This is the real meaning of inner freedom. As you may recall, it was Jesus Christ who said: “The truth shall set you free”.

Freedom from attachment to and self-identification with all that which is illusory and impermanent is a fruit of the diligent practice of Satya. It is the doorway to the eternal in this world of time, space, and form. A person who realizes Satya at the level of the Absolute, will be constitutionally incapable of dishonesty and deceit. The realization of Satya at this level means that a person has fully realized the Truth of their innermost Being and, as a result, everything that he/she thinks, says or does flows from this realization and is expressed in the world of the Relative as sincere and truthful thought, speech and action.

An important point that is not often addressed in commentaries about Satya is that the practice of honesty (truthfulness) in the world of human interrelations is not stable without a genuine realization of Satya as the Truth of our innermost Being. Religions tend to emphasize virtue, honesty and truthfulness (the Relative dimension of Satya), but the fact remains that deceit and self-deception (the inner root of deceit) cannot be eradicated without the wisdom that comes from realizing That in us which is eternally pure, unconditioned and free. Otherwise, we are like actors identified with our socially and religiously conditioned roles of being good, virtuous and honest- the play of the ignorant. Obviously everyone is not ready for deep self-inquiry (it requires tremendous diligence and energy), so there is absolutely nothing wrong with simply endeavouring to live with honesty, sincerity and integrity. It is a noble undertaking. However, the ever-present trap of self-deception cannot be dismantled without the turning of consciousness within that allows us to free ourselves of all that we are not.

Jesus Christ also said the following: “I and my Father are One”. This magnanimous statement is testimony to the highest Truth of existence, which is in itself a Light-Force that can dispel all darkness, ignorance, delusion and suffering.