The Eight Limbs: Satya – Truth

This is the second part of a longer series of writings on the eight limbs of yoga. The eight limbs are the steps on the yogic path that lead to our transformation and the actualization of our potential as human beings. The first limb is ‘yamas’, which are the wise characteristics we can practice in order to live in harmony with the world around us. There are five yamas, and last week we looked at the first one, ‘Ahimsa,’ which means, non-harming. This week I am introducing the second, ‘Satya,’ which means, truth. The yogis realized long ago that if we are not in touch with the truth, or if we are lying, our minds will be unsettled, and yoga will be impossible. Therefore, we are advised to know and live in accordance with truth.

I am thinking now of how many layers there are to truth. There are literal truths, facts: I am writing now. There are more subjective truths, like the truth of our experience, how we come to understand what is true within ourselves. Within that, there are more layers in which one truth is deeper or truer than another. Perhaps you feel grumpy, and when you look into the grumpiness you see that you are tired and need to rest. You can see the need for rest as the deeper truth, and that grumpiness is more at the surface. Looking further you might see that you have a pattern of working too hard, which is another truth and on and on.

Mukunda Stiles’ translates Patanjali’s sutra on satya, II,36, here:

By abiding in truthfulness, one’s words and actions are subservient to truth and thus whatever is said or done bears the fruit of that sincerity.

This week, I invite you to look at your relationship to truth. Do you love the truth? Are you someone who always tells the truth? Do you tend to exaggerate the facts or tell white lies? Are there aspects of the truth that you keep hidden from yourself? How do you know what is true for you? There is ‘the ring of truth,’ your inner sense of truth, a gut feeling: what are the ways you come to know the truth for yourself? Are you ever confused about the truth? Can you accept the whole truth about yourself, your light aspects and your dark aspects? Can you see the deeper truth of who you really are (a divine being)?

As always, let me know how your investigation goes.  Share your thoughts and insights about truth in the comments section below.

With gratitude for the practice, Shannon

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