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Lessons of Truthfulness and Integrity (Satya)

Lately, I have experienced different situations in which dishonesty has upset the equilibrium of a normally balanced existence. Individuals can be robbed of their sense of trust – in the short-term, by means of words and manipulations, or in the long-term, by actions. Most recently, I had experienced verbal onslaughts and distortions of reality by someone who intended to be hurtful during a time of family crisis. Then, my Ipod was stolen from my beach bag in an area that had long been considered safe. This brazen action occurred right next to my husband and daughter who were both napping at the time.

Another incident that affected me in the past month occurred over a decorative bench. In my efforts to source one for our bedroom, I found a bench in an antique store and bought it with the understanding that I could return it for a full refund if not suitable. The owners also told me that the bench was from the Victorian era. When the upholsterer came out to provide an estimate for recovering it, a story of deceit began to unfold. He said that the bench was a replica from China, and that he could not recover it. When I contacted one of the owners of the store to inform her that I would be returning the bench as previously agreed upon, she now stated that her policy was “store credit only.” The money itself didn’t matter to me at all; the feeling that I had been intentionally misled prevailed and disturbed me. It was the blatant lack of integrity and truthfulness that I found extremely upsetting in these different situations.

Satya, meaning truthfulness, and honesty, is the second of the five Yamas, which are considered codes of restraint and self-regulations, and involve our relationship with other people and the external world. Sutra II, 36, of the second pada, or chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states, “Dedicated to truth and integrity (Satya), our thoughts words, and actions gain the power to manifest.” Thus, for one who increasingly practices honesty or truthfulness in actions, speech, and thoughts, his or her will is naturally fulfilled. We are encouraged to practice exercising care in speaking truth, and that truth is concurrence between thought, word and deed. We are encouraged to be always mindful of the most important practice, which is to cause no harm. The same principal applies to practicing the other four Yamas.

These experiences, though very disheartening, remind me of what is really important, and how being ethical, kind, and honest is of utmost importance. My father has always said that a man’s word is his bond, and that there is nothing more important than that. As we learn to live in Satya, we become familiar with where truth and integrity lie. When someone chooses to take advantage of another, and manipulate circumstance in their favour without regard for anyone else, it is extremely disturbing.

As these simple lessons guide me to remain focused on what is meaningful and what is right, the bench has become a symbol of what platform I wish to stand on and speak from. The Buddha taught us about the Right Path, and Patanjali provided us with the Yoga Sutras. Though misled, set-up, and stolen from, these incidents were opportunities to view my path with greater clarity and purpose. In so doing, I renew my commitment to practise mindfulness and Satya every step of the way.

“Most people will not remember what you said or what you did. But they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou


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