Sunday, December 14, 2008

Satya: Slippery or Sublime?

Satya, the second aspect of Yama, means truth. Now, if I consider this to be the kind of truth that is about me in a particular moment in time, as time goes on this truth is likely to change. But if I see it as a larger entity about connectedness, community or wholeness, then truth is sublime.

The slippery truth…

Truth can look unclear when we try to see it in an individual’s life-story. For example there was a time, when I was attending the Ohio State University, when I thought I was in love with a really handsome art student (and I was 18 years old). I still remember the kiss we had on “the oval.” It was ferociously windy and grey, but when we kissed the wind calmed. And I thought that the world was making space for our personal love to blossom. Over the summer, I poured my best feelings into a letter. It was a work of art that included a beautiful black-and-white picture of cobblestones that I had taken in Europe. The stones spoke of earth and infinity with the magic of perspective.

Later I had learned what he had been thinking about during that time. When he came back for fall semester, he told me that he did not love me at all, and that he had just been “horney” when he met me. So I told him that I was mistaken in the letter. And he couldn’t believe that, because it was the most beautiful letter he had ever received. I asked him to destroy the letter because it was false. It was false because I didn’t have all the facts when I wrote it.

So for me, in my feelings toward an individual (the handsome art student), I had experienced a big shift. This is slippery truth. “I love you with all my being,” changes to, “you betrayed me,” in this story. It was a loss of trust in my feelings of love, because I had pinned it on an individual. But, now I think that my feelings of love are so much bigger than that, one other person is not responsible for the infinite capacity for love I feel in myself. The love I feel for another person is a doorway toward love’s treasure within me, within this world.

Sublime truth.

When I observe all the ways I was cared for by so many different people in my life, and that this care in the world gave me the ability to be where I am right now, writing this entry, I am astounded. It fills me with awe to see within my life how everything I have experienced feeds into and enriches this moment I am living right now. It is beyond an adjective, to consider how the lives of my ancestors gave me the gift of life, or even how their needs and desires may live on in me. In what way, or to what degree do their struggles reflect mine?

I might go on but I find myself without words to do it. Thank you for reading. I value the connection we have. Be well.

Alright, I’m back. In the paragraph above I talked about connections between people across time. Another way sublime truth can be observed is in a group of people in the present moment. This can happen when differences of opinion can live in the same space, and a larger understanding can be perceived, but possibly not easily talked about. And of course this can be seen as a model or workspace for meditation. In meditation we inevitably confront contradictions inside ourselves. And we can’t turn away from ourselves the way we can another person. So working with a group that allows enough room for different points-of-view, can help us work more compassionately with ourselves.

So, in terms of the yoga, this truth—Satya is about acceptance. And this kind of acceptance can make the world a better place, a place where we can listen to and hear other people, and we can experience ourselves being heard, as well. It is also about honoring the infinite ways in which we are connected in any given moment and across time. (I know yoga is a timeless state, perhaps even beyond time, but from my perspective as an earth-being this is how I see it.)


Unknown said...

Life is not suposed to be perfect nor is love.
If you believe any other way you will live a life and love of dissapointments and regrets.

Brooks Hall said...

So true, Buddha! I’m glad you said so. In the realm of my personal life, and for the people I know, life is imperfect. Things happen and we make mistakes, and others tell of their mistakes. And the last thing I want to spend my time doing is wallowing in or fondling regrets and disappointments. However I’d like to speak to your comment through the situation I shared in the post, and hopefully we can gain greater clarity this way.

From the viewpoint of today, I see the handsome art student as being true to himself, and in integrity when he said he didn’t love me. It’s his truth. And I honor him for that, now. But, when I was a teenager I was really mad, of course. And now I see the imperfection as mine. I own it. I reacted to this situation by rejecting my own deeply loving nature, and was embarrassed at feeling alone in this longing. So I was angry at him, but really angry at myself for being a fool, an idiot, a jackass for trying. I used the situation as a dagger to stab myself.

You might say, “okay, but why beat yourself up over it,” or wonder why I would bother to think about it. And you would have a point. Some would agree. But the reason I look at it is because I can recognize a pattern in this early story of my love life that has repeated itself with some variations over time. I have desperately loved the men in my life.

But, what I think I can do about it is to invite two opposing aspects of myself into the same space, healing space. Instead of fighting myself (and unfortunate men in my life), my intention is to allow my deeply loving nature and my anger (from rejection/embarrassment) to live together in my conscious awareness, to let them be there so I can see both. This puts my emotions into a yogic context, where nothing is hidden. Both are my truth (Satya).

Both love and rejection have strong energies that go in opposite directions. Asking them to live together is a tall order. Yet I can sense my love, and I can sense the rejection of that love. They are separate entities that I can see at the same time and learn from that process.

And I want to do this because I want to live from a better place today, a more integrated place, rather than the wounded and needy place I have in the past. I don’t want to continue a pattern that is harmful. This pattern of desperately loving brings out it’s own rejection, as sure as if it was a formal invitation to dinner.