If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. ~Rene Descartes
Satya, one of the Yamas in the Yoga Sutras asks us to live in truth. To be truthful in our thinking, in our speaking, and in our living.
Of all the things we have lost this year, perhaps the most costly is our relationship to truth. We have lost the essence of truth, honesty, trust. We have been living isolated lives, scrambling to know who we can trust to tell us ‘the truth’. We have taken sides, allowed ourselves to be lied to, believed the lies, and sold our souls for something that even remotely looks like the truth. In the process, we have lost connection, with each other, and with ourselves.
I consider myself to be a “Recovering Religionist”. I was raised in one religion, which I was fully invested in until my mid-20s. Then I did what a lot of young people do. I questioned, I partied, and I disavowed. For a decade I would have considered myself agnostic, if I had known what that was.
At age 32, I married into a family with great devotion to another religion. I jumped in. I found many things here that spoke to my soul, and I was allowed to worship in jeans and flip flops, with a coffee in hand. I was baptized, and became an evangelist. I’d love to go back and formally apologize for everyone I proselytized to in my zealous excitement of my new found religion. After a few years, and during the time of Prop 8, a fight against same-sex marriage, I began to see many of the things in this new religion that were just like the one I left years ago. Judgement, criticism of other lifestyles, exclusion, and that overriding message that “we are right, and everyone else is wrong.” I left another religion.
Both departures were painful. Tear your soul apart painful. For me, and for the people I love. I have had to work hard to maintain the relationships that mean the world to me, even while knowing I am being judged for my choices.
I am writing all of this to lay foundation for this…none of us has “THE Truth”. All we have is “OUR Truth”. In our Yoga Teacher Trainings, this topic comes up early, as our students question whether yoga is a religion. Many religious people fear that yoga will contradict their religious beliefs. In my experience, yoga wants to come alongside you on your spiritual journey with tools to help you be a better traveler. As I see it, if you’re a Christian, yoga seeks to help you walk that path more mindfully. If you’re Jewish, yoga offers to help you be more present to your traditions.
I would suggest one thing that could possibly get us past this impossible chasm that we have found ourselves in. If we could have conversations that start with “truth to me is”, or “in my experience”, we could hear each other. So many conversations shut down (at least for me) when someone points their finger and shouts about The Truth.
What do you say? Are you ready to take on a practice of Satya? A practice of exploring your own truth, and speaking it out loud, while also hearing someone else’s that is different? That, in my experience, is the beginning of inner peace, and a more peaceful world.