SATYA – The Road Sign to Virtuous Living

One full moon morning, yogi Hariananda Das was sitting on his meditation cushion. The yogin suddenly finds himself daydreaming of past events and cleaning the dirt from underneath his big toenail. He giggles and realizes that he is not being true with his meditation’s intention of being focused, still and present. Being true to himself and his practice, Hariananda Das breathes deeply, closes his eyes and begins to internally chant his mantra and work his necklace of mala beads. In an effort to be genuine, he remains virtuous in his practice.

The story of Hariananda Das might be quite familiar. Perhaps the greatest way that the yama, Satya (truthfulness) can be utilized in life is to consistently be involved with the process of self-observation. We remain vigilant towards our objective by asking, “Am I being honest with myself in my effort to accomplish the task at hand?”

While practicing asana, consistent employment of dristhi, bundhas, correct alignment and full breath ensures that the practice will be fruitful. In this process of distraction, simply recognize your digression and gently bring yourself back to the practice.

While working at your place of employment, are you doing the best job you can? What is getting in the way? Be honest to find your potential. Compassionately accept that it is a natural phenomenon for focus to digress, but it is the road sign of Satya that keeps us progressing on our path.

Concerning thought and action, it is often recommended to not be in denial of the way things are. It is wise to be responsible for all of your self generated karmas and to take ownership of for all mind – body conditions. Not observing or recognizing our shadow or dark side can be tsunami of misfortune.

Those of us who are inspired to make positive changes to the environment towards sustainability and global health might want to check in with themselves to make sure they are leaving a light footprint on the earth. Are our actions and consumption patterns in line with how we consider ourselves as an environmentalist or green?

The Sanskrit word Sat is defined as true. Sat is the root of the word Sattva. Sattva is one of the 3 gunas. These gunas are qualities or attributes of nature. Sattva guna is representative of clarity, illumination, steadiness, purity and harmony. These are primary attributes and fruit of a yogic lifestyle.

As yoga practitioners, are we being honest in our commitment to cultivating sattva as a predominant way of being? Are we practicing early in the morning to reap the benefits of absorbing the sattvic atmospheric conditions that exist at sunrise? Are we eating light, pure and healthy food? Are we really conserving and refining our sexual and vital energy so that it can be directed towards our own internal development?

When the light and clarity of sattva dawns, discrimination (viveka) between the true and the untrue manifests. Recognizing the eternal and the transitory becomes possible. The sword of viveka is sharp, cutting through ignorance, delusion and confusion.

When discussing yoga Sutra ii:36, most commentaries explain that for those who are established in Satya whatever they desire or say will come true. Brahmananda Sarasvati, (Dr. Ramamurti S. Mishra) explains, “When the mind is firmly established in truth, every action performed will receive immediate results. In the ordinary state, when a man’s thoughts contain both truth and untruth, a man will take longer to obtain success in his actions, or he may fail even if he is performing his deeds. When one’s mind is purified through meditation and untruth is removed, one’s performed actions soon begin to bring results, even exceeding one’s expectations. When a yogin’s mind is established in nothing but truth, his every word becomes full of truth and his word is a blessing to others.”

There are many facets to the gem of Satya. Know thyself. Love thyself. Try to be real, that’s the deal. Satya is a guidepost to virtuous living.