Truth is a relative term. We each see the world through a different set of eyes and so we cannot say that truth is absolute. Rather, our job as humans is to dive deep enough into our own consciousness that we can answer the question, ‘what is my truth?’. Yoga Teacher Training
This too is subjective. The truth of my life today is different to that of a year ago because my experiences have lead to the evolution of my perspective and values.
In the Yoga Sutras, written some 2000 years ago, the Sage Patanjali lists satya or truthfulness as one of five ethical principles (yamas) to which yogis should adhere. In this context we might say that we are practicing satya whenever our actions mirror our words and our words mirror our thoughts. More so, satya is only satya when married to ahimsa such that our actions, words and thoughts do not cause harm to others. Thus, speech that is factually correct but harmful is not truthful from this perspective.
I must be aware of my motivations for speaking. My actions must reflect my inner-most thoughts. I must be mindful of my tendency to judge others, recognizing that this judgment limits myself as well as them.
If I speak with satya, my words will have resonance for others. I will give others my best self and so they will show the best version of themselves to me.
‘Sat’ in Sanskrit means ‘truth’ but also means something akin to ‘that which is unchanging’. When we interpret satya in light of this second meaning we begin to see how little of our days are actually spent in service of the truth – we devote most of our attention to the things in our life that are in flux. We identify with our bodies, our changing emotions and our changing fortunes, mistakenly believing that these are true.
The truth of our existence is more soulful than this. Thus, the Om Asatoma mantra from the Upanishads points us in the direction of deeper truth, saying:
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya
“Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness (ignorance) to light (knowledge)
From death to immortality”