Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Guidelines - Satya (truthfulness)


Life is constantly giving us little lessons - whether we learn anything from them is up to us. Recent adventures to Denver reiterated my need to go back and review - again - the 10 Guidelines to Rightful Living. I think these Guidelines are truly fascinating - Christianity has the 10 Commandments, Buddhist have the Noble 8-Fold Path, Paganism sums it up with one sentence - how nearly all major religions and philosophies have Guidelines for proper spiritual and ethical behavior. At least I find it interesting and someday would like to know what the others have.

When I last wrote about the 10 Guidelines, also known as the Yama’s and Niyamas, I discussed Ahimsa (non-violence). Here’s a quick review of the rest:

Yamas (or self restraints)
Ahimsa - non-violence
Satya - truth
Asteya - non-stealing
Brahmacharya - chastity or walking with the divine
Aparigraha - non-attachment

Niyamas (or observances)
Saucha - cleanliness
Santosa - contentment
Tapas - self discipline
Svadhyaya - self study
Isvara pranidhanani - surrender to the divine


The definition of Satya in Sanskrit means:
Satya ("truth/truthfulness"): truth, a designation of the ultimate Reality; also the practice of truthfulness, which is an aspect of moral discipline (yama)

Buddhism, for example, has Right Speech, meaning ones actions should be absent of false-hoods, harsh words and useless chatter. Non-violence and truthfulness go hand in hand. Can you be truthful without harming in speech and action? Can you observe without being judgmental? Useless chatter - gossip perhaps? While the target of idle talk may never hear, it is still harmful to be speaking about another in a negative manner.

Satya is presented as one of the Five “restraints”, to recognize and carefully consider what our words and actions (not all truths or non-truths are spoken) may impart. Paganism, for example, just says “And if it harms none, do what you will.” And we’ve all heard the words from our childhood, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But now the difference is we are being asked to put this into practice, so our words, thoughts and deeds match our intent and actions. That we become aware of how our behavior affects us and those around us. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Give it a whirl for one week and see what you discover about yourself.

As a final thought, I’d like to leave you with this quote:

Judith Hanson Lasiter writes in To Tell the Truth (Yoga Journal.com)
“When we experience a person speaking from satya, we resonate with those words. Hearing words that express truth helps us to experience a deep recognition that unconsciously we already know the truth. Upon hearing such words, we feel that some deep, essential part of us has been seen, hear, and understood.”

For further reading on the Yama's and Niyama's please check out these:
Yoga Journal
Yoga of the Heart (will have to come back and add the author!)

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