As is often the case in Sanskrit, sat has many meanings including wise, beautiful, honest, living, being present, enduring, real and true. Some of the meanings associated with the related word satya are: true, truth, sincere, valid, authentic and pure. You can interpret satya as living with integrity. In other words, being whole in your thoughts, intentions, movements, words, actions and interactions. Practicing satya begins with the recognition that you are already whole and complete, that your fundamental essence is peace and harmony. Recognize that at the core of your being, there is an endless reservoir of peace and calm. You retire into that peace and spaciousness at the end of each day. You emerge out of that same peace and wholeness every morning when you wake up.
Living in a world where global economies orient toward consumerism, the average person is subjected to endless messages trying to sell products, experiences and ideas. One popular approach to marketing is to suggest that a person is incomplete or deficient and that they can become good, complete and whole through buying a product or experience. Believing the idea that you are incomplete or deficient leads you to live in a lie: that you need something from outside to make you who you are. This fundamental lie generates all kinds of other lies, as it triggers endless processes of self-improvement, so that you can be smarter, taller, fitter, happier, richer, etc. Believing the flawed assumption that you are not whole and complete, also creates insecurities and fears that color your attitudes, thoughts and decisions.
It is quite common to convince ourselves that we are the only ones who are not complete and that everybody else has already figured out his or her own life. This ignores the fact that nobody has been in this current moment before, and that each person is improvising, trying to do what they think will work best, even though there is no certainty that predicted outcomes will materialize. Satya is freeing yourself from those erroneous beliefs, so that you can start from two simple facts. First, you are complete and whole. Second, EVERYBODY is improvising. Indeed, people are trying to do what they think is best. Often, we hesitate at the prospect of trusting that we are complete. Moreover, we may be quite uncomfortable with acknowledging the fact that we are improvising. Doubts arise because we want to do what is right, and, at least, we want to minimize our mistakes. Satya is an invitation to live with integrity, improvising, doing the best you can and being responsible for your actions. As you improvise and try to do your best, there still will be times when you will make poor choices or uninformed decisions. The feedback that lets you know that you made a poor choice helps you live with integrity because it assists you in expanding your present level of knowledge and understanding. It also prepares you to make a better choice next time.
Some questions that may guide your exploration of satya: What is your true nature? How do you honor your true nature in your thoughts, words, actions and interactions? What type of activities are most conducive to connecting to your wholeness in mind, heart and body? How do you know that what you think is true and not a story you or somebody else has made up? You may also remind yourself of satya by using the mantra, I AM WHOLE.
You can also practice satya by quieting your internal commentary and opinions so that you can listen for inner guidance. Inner guidance is the silent whisper of your heart offering you wisdom. Wisdom is pure common sense. When you pay attention, you notice that common sense may not be as common as one would think. For instance, when you are having a meal, if you are paying attention, you will notice the gentle indication from your body when you have eaten enough. You are still free to ignore that message. The message offers pure common sense. Yet your mind may start concocting excuses for overriding the message you have already received. For instance, you may say to yourself: “I can eat more because I worked really hard this week,” or “Tomorrow I’ll do some extra exercise.” Satya is listening for inner guidance and choosing to follow it. When you choose to ignore your wise inner guidance, you will probably hear yourself saying something like: “I knew that this was a bad idea,” or “I should have noticed….” Conversely, every single time that you align your free will to the suggestions from the truth within yourself, life flows more harmoniously. Consider if you want to test this idea out in your own life. In the process, notice that the silent whisper of your heart is different from your internal narrator. Your inner wisdom, your conscience, offers you pure common sense, something that works at more than one level. In fact, it usually works at all levels, whereas your internal narrator tries to come up with excuses or justifications to convince you to override what you know deep within to be pure common sense. As usual, only by trying to attend to the silent whisper of your heart can you find what happens when you do.
As usual, one more way of exploring the meaning of this sutra is by chanting it.
You can choose to chant it in its traditional form with some of the words coming together:
2.30 ahiṃsāsatyāsteya brahmacaryāparigrahāḥ yamāḥ
अहिंसासत्यास्तेय ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहाः यमाः ॥३०॥
Another option is to chant each word in the sutra individually:
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