The Daily Yogi #21: True That!

DarrenMeditation, Sanskrit, Yoga Principles


“True that!”

Ghetto form of true, indeed, yep, I concur, I agree, that’s true  –

Satya is a Sanskrit term for unchangeable, or absolute truth. We learn to consider satya in our studies of the yamas (ethical considerations) and nyamas (self observations).  According to Bhava Ram in The 8 Limbs of Yoga, “Patanjali addresses Satya in this way: Sutra 2.36 Satya Pratisthayam Kriya Phalasrayatvam, ‘To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.‘ ” Patanjula was a power sage, the real deal. His truth was raw and potent. What did he mean in this ancient sutra, and what does it mean for us today? These are questions worthy of a lifetime (or more) of meditation. Sometimes it’s more about knowing the right questions than the right answers.

For example, what do we mean when we speak of truth? Depends on who you ask, right? The Ancient Greeks might say it has to do with Reason and that it is the job of the individual to understand True Knowledge. Thales, the first Greek philosopher, asked, “What is real?” I wonder if he knew some Buddhists-we question everything. In the Hindu perspective, it’s an entirely different matter. There is no questioning of one’s situation. One accepts the role one is born in to, and over time learns to see the truth of ultimate reality.

The sanskrit term sat means, “to be.” There is no word for a separate, distinct self. Instead of an “I” who “does” something, the individual becomes the principle or truth of the system into which he or she is born. One doesn’t become a Hindu like we can become Buddhist, Muslim or Christian. There is nothing like individual choice. “I” don’t become a “wife.” One is a wife, married by a broker who bought into the caste. There is no choice or personal decision involved in the practice of throwing oneself on one’s husband’s funeral pyre. That’s what one is-a wife and that duty is not to be questioned. Nor  does one become a yogi. One is born into their place in that system and each aspect of the caste is designed to decimate the sense of a personal sense of self so that eventually one will be able to realize the ultimate truth. The Brahman priest, at that stage of the pre-designated life cycle, has lost all sense of “self” as an individual and is the expression of ultimate truth, as taught by the guru from the vedas.

In kundalini yoga circles you’ll hear the affirmation Sat Nam! It means something like,”the everlasting name of supreme reality.” But one doesn’t really unify with god. Even though we say that yoga means union, the notion of a coming together of separate parts is not accurate. It’s more about a peeling away the layers of perception and thought, on subtler and subtler levels until we realize the truth which already is. In my opinion, when we pretend to speak truth by quoting sutras and teachings that we have not learned to apply, we are bypassing spirituality and therefore further strengthening the ego. It might be better to say, “I have no idea what the truth is,” rather than, “We are all one,” because if we really realized that truth we would indeed be at a very highly evolved stage of spiritual development that, traditionally, takes many lifetimes. One doesn’t simply pick up a book or go to a yoga class to become enlightened.

In the West, we can enter the yoga path at any time in the life cycle. In traditional Indian culture, the stage of life when one enters into the path of yoga follows the stages of education, profession and family responsibilities. The entire caste system is set up to keep itself intact. The law is not something made of convention. It is considered supreme and absolute.  The practices of yoga in ancient times were horrific. The spiritual rituals of destroying ego also meant wearing down identification with the body, to the point where one could not tell the difference between pleasure and pain. It would not work here in California at your local yoga spa where everyone expects to be pampered!

So how do we practice satya if we’re trying to be on the yoga path here in the West in 2014? Gotta know that the truth is not what we think it is, that we can’t know it through the mind but we can use the mind and body and our breath energy to awaken bit by bit. That’s a truth that we can work on. Knowing that I don’t even know what I don’t even know, as Lama Khemsar Rinpoche instructed, means that we have to learn to drop the concepts, be in the practice and fine tune our awareness. Someone says, “True dat,” and we have to say, “true what?” We don’t know what we don’t know. We could stop pretending that we know anything. But we might also stop pretending that we don’t know anything. The spiritual path is not a theory, says AA. It has to be lived. So go find a guru. I know, that’s a strange idea. We’re such individualists in the West. We don’t like to submit to anyone unless they’re paying us. But if we understand that enlightenment is a real goal, and that we haven’t become Buddhas on our own, we might be willing to surrender to a power greater than ourselves, namely a teacher in whom we place our complete trust. But that’s another topic.


Today in my practice I would like to understand what my truth is, instead of acting like I know it, trying to show it right before I blow it. Sat nam. The true name of the truest true truth. I might not understand it before I’m long in the tooth. But I’m open to understand it as I breath, move and grow. Sat nam, amen. May it be so.

May we all know the real truth real soon. –yogi d

DarrenThe Daily Yogi #21: True That!