.The name of our collective is Satya Yoga Collective. I named it Satya because Satya is my grandmother's name. Also Satya is one of the essential principles of classical yoga philosophy. It is the 2nd of the 5 yamas or ethical guidelines on how we should interact with the world. Satya loosely translates as "truth." The English word "truth" feels slippery, whereas the word satya denotes something that is part of the essential nature of the Divine; that which we ought pursue and that which we ought live. But also because so much of what's called "yoga" out there feels so fake to me (including much of what is promoted in modern India as yoga, but that is a topic for another time), I wanted a name that would speak of authenticity, and that would remind me to constantly seek truth in yoga and to the best of my ability live that truth.
And lately, as we find ourselves increasingly bombarded with "alternative facts," I am reminded of how the word satya relates to social justice. During the Indian anti-colonial movement, the direct actions of civil disobedience were called "satyagraha." Graha means "to seize or hold onto" It also means "planet" in the sense that planets are celestial bodies with gravity which exert influence or in stronger terms, grasp or seize control over our energy fields. Gandhi used the word "satyagraha" to mean "truth force" This is the idea that Truth has a gravity, a force of its own that is greater than violent force. It exerts a gravitational pull on anything that happens to come into its field. While it isn't violent, it isn't gentle either. It is strong. It is powerful. It grabs hold of us, just as we must grab hold of it.
We know when we hear Truth. We know it, don't we? It rings in our souls. It is in the spontaneous affirmations we utter when we listen to poetry and preachers. It is the expansive feeling that we get when we see art that touches our spirit. Truth is Beauty is God. Truth enlightens us...it makes us feel lighter and clearer. Likewise, the opposite is true as well. When he hear untruths, our spirits balk and cringe and twist and feel obscured and dense. Truth is a force so great that those rooted in Untruth fear it. In the most oppressive societies, Truthtellers are silenced: shamed, jailed, even killed.
We often argue Truth, Beauty, and God are all subjective, and yet what is subjective is based on ego, and what is universal seems to be based on that part of us which is connected to all others. Subjective beauty concerns itself with individual features. It divides and separates the body into parts. It makes us feel dismembered. Universal beauty sees the whole and sees nothing but Beauty. In the same way, the essential Truth is that we are all connected. And all the problems of the world....all oppressions are rooted in the idea that we are separate.
Yet Western yoga and Western Buddhism often take this essential truth and twist it when they spiritually bypass and whitesplain to us that racism, sexism, etc don't really exist because all divisions are illusions. We are all one, after all, so there is no such thing as race, sex, etc. That is Truth. But to say that because race doesn't really exist, racism doesn't really exist is Untruth. We don't live in a world that is built upon a foundation of Truth. We live in a world of illusion/maya. And because of that illusion of separateness upon which every aspect of our existence is structured in this world, humans commit terrible crimes against the Earth, against humanity, against all of Life and all of Spirit. That is Reality. And the forces of Ego are currently running amok. And so it is now more important than ever to remember the ring of Truth, how it feels. It is a force greater than lies. It is a force that will bend the arc of the Universe towards Justice, towards Beauty, towards Love, and towards our Essential Eternal Nature. But only if we seize it and allow ourselves to be seized by it. We must allow Satya to be the center of our existence. Truth is a Planet! We must orbit it.