Satya: What is Truth?

Sutra 2.36 was written by Patanjali some 3000 years ago: “Satya Pratisthayam Kriya Phala Ashrayatvam.” Satya is truth and is the second of the Yamas, the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga.

As with anything in this practice, the first application of this Yama is to be true to myself. I spent much of my young life identifying with stereotypes or following someone else’s voice. When things happened I chose to filter reality through the lens of whatever faux reality I was identifying at the time. When I would do things that were self-centered or harmful, I used other people and these false perceptions to make me OK with what I had done. I was living lies built upon lies, and this is an unsustainable existence.

I never felt good about who I was as a child, and in retrospect I didn’t even know who that was. I was always being told to change who I was. I think I was the first kid ever put on Ritalin, but that’s only one example. When Ace Ventura came out I remember adopting all his goofy terminology, so I could channel my awkwardness into an existing persona which much of society found humorous. I was too afraid to sit with who and what I was.

Unable to accept reality, I later turned to chemicals to stifle the truths I didn’t want to accept. I know now that the building block of a successful life is loving myself and being OK with who and what I am.

Before I could love and accept myself, I had to learn to be honest with myself, something I had never done before. The funny thing about truth was I couldn’t identify it, but I could identify with being honest with myself. In the past what I thought was truth was simply a judgment label I gave to how I felt about something that occurs at a single point in time. What I am learning is that feelings are not truth and real truth is timeless. Assigning labels at any point in time is deceiving myself as a reaction to running from discomfort. Learning to accept what is, acknowledging it no matter how it feels, and being ok walking through it is a great path to living in truth.

The Buddhist monks speak well about this when they describe sitting in their discomfort and accepting it as reality. Instead of labeling something as bad, I could say this feels bad, acknowledge it as a temporal emotion, and return to my breath. This is a completely different approach than masking it, or justifying it or running away from it. It’s a practical way of practicing truth by accepting what is through being honest with me, then applying non-attachment. Through repeated practice of this I begin to live in truth, not hiding from life but accepting it with a level of equanimity.

With truth is firmly established, the path seems to become clearer in life. Not the path society sets for us or our parents, but the path of the true self.

True is the substrate that allows good fruit to grow in our lives and allows the yogi to push forward with a clear purpose.

It’s the good dirt that allows the weeds of confusion and fear to strip away, and make way for a purpose driven life to grow. The intentions I set seem to begin to manifest, and the effects begin to permeate all my relationships. It is as if the universe begins to give me the acceptance I was always searching for on the outside of me and supports me with extra power to move forward.

This practice of Ashtanga Yoga is a gift, but it is also practice and requires effort on my part. When I do my practice my mind becomes quiet and I can connect to the divine light inside which is the essence of truth. The divine power is real but can’t exist when the noise of the ego mind drowns it out. I encourage everyone to find their practice and win the easy battle over your ego, in order that you may all receive the vast rewards the universe wants to grant you.