Saturday, March 04, 2006

Truth without violence

Satya versus ahimsa. How do we tell the truth without harming when telling the truth would inflict pain? It's right there in Yoga Mala:

"One should always tell the truth in thought, word, and deed. The truth must be pleasant to others; an unpleasant truth should not be uttered. "
YC

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that you need to make a decision about the truth you are telling. Is it a truth that would hurt and yet still the person needs to hear? Like their husband is cheating or their mother died. Or, is it a truth that doesn't really need to be uttered at all. Like your ass looks fat in those jeans or I think you are a stupid bitch. Both of those may be true but there is malice and anger behind them. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything....

Anonymous said...

I think that you need to make a decision about the truth you are telling. Is it a truth that would hurt and yet still the person needs to hear? Like their husband is cheating or their mother died. Or, is it a truth that doesn't really need to be uttered at all. Like your ass looks fat in those jeans or I think you are a stupid bitch. Both of those may be true but there is malice and anger behind them. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything....

yoga chickie said...

Even in your examples, there is some level of gray area. Maybe my husband shouldn't let me out of the house in jeans that make my ass look fat. It might depend on the way he says it - how helpful it is, versus how destructive. Maybe telling someone their spouse is cheating is not going to do more good than harm - although true, perhaps it is more harmful than useful. Or perhaps it WOULD be useful, but the "messenger" will then experience a great deal of harm for conveying the message. What SKPJ says about satya in Yoga Mala is as simple as the old adage you quote in your last sentence, but obviously, but there will always be some level of gray.

Thanks for commenting!

Lauren

samasthiti said...

The world is full of grey areas!

I think only if we weigh out each situation and apply the rule of Satya to each one we can easily accomplish this.

Sergio said...

I was unaware of the whole dimension of satya until reading "Yoga Mala" last September. It never occured to me that it also included the idea that saying the truth wasn't always desirable.

Apart from being a really bad liar (I refuse doing it because I know I get noticed easily) there's a saying here in Spain that I've always tried to follow. It goes: "Shut up if your words can't match the beauty of silence" or something along those lines. I don't know its origin but, IMHO, it's one of those eternal truths. I always try to think twice and ponder every point before words get out of my mouth.

And then there's another one, which my mother loves: "If you can't provide the solution, then you're part of the problem". It reminds me of those annoying undesired/unrequired comments that, in addition to referring to obvious things, mean absolutely no help. Like, say, I have a big red spot in the middle of my forehead that can be easily noticed by everyone. It's obvious that I know it's there and it's quite possible that I'd been trying my best to remove it or conceal it without success. There's no need for anyone to remind me that it's there because not only it won't help in any way, but they are also going to make me feel rather uncomfortable and self-concious - when all I need is exactly the opposite.

Maybe not the most intellectual of examples, but sometimes familiar situations are best to picture these concepts.

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.

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