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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Satya (truth) and ahimsa (non-violence)

Moving on in the yamas of yoga this week we were to think about satya (truth) and then how it related back to last session's yama of ahimsa (non-violence).

Part of what we had to think about was when is it wise NOT to speak? I am reminded of the old saying from when I was growing up "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything".

Truth is relative. What is absolute truth to one person may not be true to another. Which makes me wonder, is truth the same as non-lying? What about all those little white lies we tell, oh no I'm fine, no I don't need anything, oh I don't need to sit down, and things like that.

One of the articles we read said just because your ego needs a boost, that is not reason to speak. Stop yourself from saying something that doesn't need to be said. Don't feed the ego. Untruths is when your ego needs to pretend.

One of the other articles mentioned telling the truth versus not hurting somebody's feelings. The example given was seeing somebody in a really really ugly dress. Satya would have you say, "that's an ugly dress"but ahimsa would not want you to hurt that person's feelings. So what do you say? Especially if the person excitedly asks you," "do you like my dress?" and you have to say something. I think my tendency would be to find something, anything, in the dress that I liked so I could say maybe, "how colorful!" or something neutral.

Where telling the truth and not hurting someone's feelings is difficult is in relationships. But I think there are sometimes many truths, are many shades of the same truth. Judith Lassiter mentions in her article to choose words so they do the least harm in the most good. That satya as a yama has a restraint rather than action. What we should restrain from doing as opposed to what we should do. Slow down, filtering, considering words so they mesh with ahimsa. I guess the big point is that satya is not to be speech that may be factually accurate but harmful. And words can be very, very hurtful.

And sometimes, for me anyway, I need to slow down and really think about my words. I have a history of blurting out things that may be did not need to be said at that particular moment. If nothing else, maybe this yoga teacher training will be good to remind me to stop and think before I talk.


  1. So true, Rhonda. Sometimes I too need to slow down and think about my words. And sometimes I need to speed up the rate at which I'm willing to contribute and relate. Balance, balance, balance!

  2. What?! I think part of your lovely charm is your ability to blurt out things that may not need to be said...