Ethics for all Humanity…Part II: Satya

Creative Commons License photo credit: ServantofAgape

Hello again and welcome back!  In last week’s article, we began a five part series based on the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and the first of the Eight Limbs of Yoga; Yama, or ethical disciplines.  Part one of Yama – Ethics for all Humanity is available through this link, and covers the first of the five ethical disciplines, Ahimsã.  Today, we will be looking at the second ethical discipline; Satya, or Truth.

As I briefly spoke of prior, we appear to be entering a time in our society and in many societies where the basic moral underpinnings are being washed away by the day to day struggles towards freedom, financial safety and outright survival for far too many of our brothers and sisters.  What we need is a change of mind in the way we view our relationships with all aspects of our lives, and a change of response. Patanjali saw this inevitable breakdown some 1700 to 2200 years ago, and in his wisdom provided these ethical disciplines to guide humanity back onto the path that we as a species have appeared to have fallen off of.


The second of the five ethical disciplines is Satya, or Truth.  I want to emphasize the difference between truth with a small ‘t’ and Truth with a capital ‘T’;  Truth with a capital ‘T’ is universal and knows no boundaries and can speak from thousands of years ago with the same authority today.  Any other truth is not really truth at all, and there are no such things as half-truths.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Truth is God and God is Truth.”  Satya or Truth therefore, is the highest ideal of conduct and personal morality.  In speaking truth, thinking only truth, and performing genuine actions based on truth, we act in harmony with The Creator, and find all our needs fulfilled without effort.  There is a much deeper component to Satya when it comes to our day to day relationships and interactions with others; remaining true to ourselves and being genuine in every moment of our existence.

The real me

To remain true to ourselves is to remain sovereign over our minds and carry the realization that only we determine our actions.  In example, a teen under pressure to smoke marijuana with friends remains true to herself and chooses to leave the party; whereas her friend refuses to leave and against her own better judgment smokes marijuana to feel part of the group, and is not true to herself.

One of the easiest ways to recognize we are letting go of our own truth is when our sentences start with words like; “You made me,” and “That person drives me,” or something to this affect.  Remaining genuine means accepting that regardless of another’s actions or the situation, you still chose to speak or act the way you did of your own accord.

Losing Power!

When we are not true to ourselves and are not genuine, we give all our personal power to the object, person, or situation that we blame our words or behavior on.  After awhile, it becomes a disease – there will always be something responsible outside of ourselves on which we will lay the blame.  This leaves us solely in the control of any outside force that comes our way; be it the environment, a person – anything can whip our emotions and our thoughts into a frenzy of responses.

Remaining sovereign over your own self allows you to enter into any situation with clarity and truth as your ally.  In a storm of events, the genuine person is an island of calm and peace.  Confronted by anger, hatred, or fear; the sovereign individual sees through this and takes action on a much deeper and more meaningful level.

The four sins of speech

According to Patanjali, there are four sins of speech:  ridiculing what others hold to be sacred, abuse and obscenity, spreading falsehood, and outright lying.  I can personally admit at one time or another I have been guilty of all of these…repeatedly.  As a young boy from a single parent, exceptionally poor family, I used to feel the need to lie to schoolmates when it came to television (we did not own one)…and after a decidedly unpleasant departure from the Catholic faith years later, there was no end for the better part of a decade to the ridicule I would rain down on any unsuspecting Catholic that crossed my path.

Patanjali was right; the tale bearer is more poisonous that a snake – and I aspire now to be better than that.  ‘Sin’ as defined by Patanjali was considered as anything that moved one away from focus on God, or the Divine.  There is no blame there, only the opportunity to learn and grow.  When we can guard our tongue against these for sins, or even make our best attempt; we are participating in helping and healing others and ourselves.

Next week

We’ll be moving off topic for next week when I will present an article selfishly geared to men:  Mid-life man Yoga!  We’ll cover some of the symptoms of mid-life crisis, some tips to help, and of course, Yoga to soothe the mind and body!

Until then…Namaste.

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