The second yama following ahimsa is satya, truthfulness. I went back and re-read pada II.30 from Pantanjali‘s Sutras and the following commentary to realign myself with the text, as well as a post on this yama from our instructor. Complete honesty, with harming none, is the point of the yama. It ties back into the previous yama, ahimsa, for nonviolence is the utmost important yama, which is why it comes first. Yet what if the truth hurts? What if the truth leads to pain, violence, etcetera of another being? Would it really be more important to be truthful than to harm none?
I will post the story my instructor posted for us:
“In olden days there was a sage renowned for his austerities and observance of the vow of truth. It so happened that once when he was sitting by his little hut, a frightened man with a bundle ran past him and disappeared into a cave nearby. A couple of minutes later there came a band of fierce robbers with gleaming knives, apparently looking for this man. Knowing that the sage would not lie, they asked him where the man with the bundle was hiding. At once, the sage, true to his vow of not uttering falsehood, showed them the cave. The cruel robbers rushed into it, dragged out the scared man, killed him mercilessly and departed with his bundle. The sage never realized God in spite of his austerities and tenacity for truth for he had been instrumental in the murder of a man.”
This cuts right to the point of being careful about how you tell the truth, being mindful about what and how you say truth. It would be better to say nothing, especially in this instance, than to cause harm. Again the previous story may be in the extreme end of examples, but still relevant to the point of truth. So what does it mean? That it is a fine line between truthfulness no matter the consequences, and truthfulness that does not harm. To find a balance of satya along with the first yama, ahimsa. Yet what about when even the hard truth is important to convey? What if, in regards to dealing with personal relationships, to heal and progress, a hard truth that may cause some hurt must be said? I believe that if it is done in a loving way, if each person knows it is out of love and compassion, again ahimsa, that it is not a sin (for lack of better phrase).
It goes further than just truth to others. It is also about truth to yourself about others, about situations, and about yourself. Trying to fit into a culture obsessed with vanity and money hinders us from our true selves, from being truthful about what our personal spirit is. Who are you? What do YOU like? What makes you laugh, cry, happy, sad? It can be painful living a lie, pretending to be another person. Many times you will hear people casually say they wished they were someone else, I have been guilty of it. Yet in a society flush with the highlights of people’s lives posted on Twitter and Facebook, with envy being always a companion when comparing your life to people’s glamour shots, it is hard to be yourself and truly you. Authentic, to be authentically you. Imagine yourself as a rare, ancient, one of a kind artifact that is completely priceless, authentic, rare. Completely unique, and yet one with everything and everyone around you. Peer pressure, at any age and level, can take a toll on a persons authenticity. It is possible that sometimes the truth eludes us until we mindfully sit and reflect upon it. For me this is where the sadhana, daily practice, comes in. Each day, in the morning and evening, sit and meditate on your inner truth. Think of who you are, honestly, flaws and all, and how you can better connect to the world around you in a positive light. Remember, always breathe.
(Sorry if it’s a bit jumbled, wrote this late! xo)