H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

SATYASARA (truthful)

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

From the book: The 26 Qualities of the Spiritual Researcher

Other meanings:

fixed in the Absolute Truth

living in truth

finding strength in truth

Sat means "eternity, existence, essence, what is, what never ceases to be"; it is the same root originating the noun satyam ("truth") and the adjective satyasara ("truthful")

One who is truthful is a friend to everybody, because untruthfulness is a source of confusion, it misleads and takes people astray, causes loss of time and is always the cause of suffering.

In all the spiritual traditions and in all the revealed Scriptures satyam, truthfulness, has a major place.

Liars are dangerous, unreliable, irresponsible, ready to cause huge damage in order to get a very small advantage. Lying is a serious character defect, a serious moral disqualification.

However, blindly following the principle of truthfulness does not bring true advantages and the best interaction with reality; sometimes stating a truth in an inappropriate moment, that is not the adequate time, place and circumstance, can cause sufferings. Also, consequences of actions will not be neutralized by the intention to be truthful: a karmic debt can also be generated by an inappropriate affirmation of truth.

Truth is not a free ticket for all situations. Calling hunchback a hunchback, blind a blind, constitutes an offense that intelligent people avoid. In Bhagavad-gita1 Krishna reminds us that a wise man is wise also because he avoids disturbing the mind of the persons who are immersed in ignorance. If in accordance to place, time and circumstance we need to speak about a temporary and lower aspect of the physical or psychic life of our interlocutor, there must be important pedagogic reasons to do it, it must be for his good and it must be done in the proper way.

Reminding someone that he was convicted for some crime or he has committed a serious blunder, mentioning some improper behavior he has had in the past, constitutes a serious offense even if these were facts, when the circumstances do not require it for his good.

Therefore it is necessary to apply a certain maturity, a discernment that enables us to utilize satyam in an ethically correct way.

In professional guilds, professional discretion is necessary. Persons who are part of a professional group have the privilege of not being forced to talk even in case of police investigation. When circumstances are so serious that a professional secret must be revealed, such disclosure must be done in private, and those who receive the confidential information become consciously responsible for it. Thousands of years of juridical civilization have explained through practical experience what happens when such confidentiality is not respected. Satyam should not be treated absent-mindedly, justifying oneself on the basis of the fact that we have told the truth anyway.

In all Scriptures, false testimony is one of the most heinous crimes, also punished by the codes of law, and similarly spying, even when about truthful things, is an ethically incorrect form of affirmation of truth.

Reflecting on satyam, elaborating concepts by understanding how many mistakes we have made in life, a well defined visualization of the various circumstances where we can make mistakes within satyam, brings as an immediate consequence a greater level of attention for our future behavior.

In devotional service, dedication to the spiritual Master and to sadhana bhakti - the discipline by which we purify our heart and mind through the loving service to the Divine - attention to satyam becomes relevant, and we will notice that everyday or almost everyday we have opportunities to be satyam or asatyam.

Persons who are not interested in spiritual realization, to the perfecting of their character, act in an opportunistic way; when it is convenient for them they tell the truth, and they lie when it is not convenient.

Being satyasara, behaving according to truth, corresponds to the eleventh virtue described by Krishna at the beginning of the 16th chapter of Bhagavad-gita, where the virtues of the men of divine nature are listed.

On many occasions, Krishna mentions these two categories, indicating four psychological types of those who have a divine nature and other four types of those who have an asuric or dark nature. We could describe them as the devotees of the light and the devotees of the darkness.

1 See Bg. III.26.

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