Ahimsa vs. Satya: Is Being Honest More Important than Being Compassionate? ~ Elissa Scott

Via Elissa Scott
on Sep 24, 2013
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It’s the age-old gladiator clash between the two forces of the yoga Yamas: Ahimsa and Satya.

Who will win, non-harming or truth?

It’s always a battlefield in my own mind. Seriously, just who trumps whom?

Who defines hurtfulness and/or truth: Myself, or another individual?

In the psychology of yoga as the art of living right, Patanjali’s sutras give us the grocery list of the must-haves and the must-dos. The first registered and maybe utmost significant are the yamas or moral characters.

In a nutshell, it’s like saying that the ethical way of living for a yoga practitioner is to do this and this and this and not this or that or that other thing that we may love to do. It’s like tweaking another person’s vibe.

Asana falls in place at third rung.  (So crawling up through your own asshole in a yoga pose is only 12.5% on the final exam of the eight limbs.)

‘Dem yamas are the shall-nots of what to do, like what to eat. Being vegan or vegetarian.

Why? Because when it hurts another living being then it’s perceived as wrong.

This is why Jainists sweep the ground with a little broom before walking to avoid stepping on insects. Nor do they dig up or eat root vegetables for fear of disturbing a critter’s habitat.

I give street cred for this concept to India, while practicing at the Karnataka Mysore Shala for the first time where I was booze-free, meatless and celibate. I fed banana peels to wandering holy street cows, revelling in the culture.

Yet I chain-smoked armloads of cigarettes, drank caffeinated street chai tea by the barrel and ate buckets of sugary chai candy (as no good quality bonbons or chocolatiers were to be found).

Is it any wonder I lost a toddler-size in weight and returned to Canada with my hip bones sharpened?

On the other hand, while touring Kerala on a sightseeing trip, locals forced meat upon us as though we were animal flesh tourists in search of a carnivorous experience. As was the Muslim district in Bangalore where skinned animal bodies were strung, dangling from clotheslines like patio lanterns.

Buddhists are well known for yielding to physical beatings by their oppressors. Rather than surrendering their beliefs, they take the middle way.

They choose the path of least resistance and of love (please define?), as they ahimsa not themselves in the name of personal truth and religious piety.

They decide from the get-go to diffuse a situation rather than allow it to escalate. Should it reflect negatively on them for this lifetime or their next?

Is being honest more important than being compassionate? Is being genuine above non-violence?

We have become so efficient in this information age by serving our tastes and preferences, while appeasing our aversions and denying our hearts and souls.We have economized the killing of animals as a commodity and beefed up their naturally scrawny bodies genetically and chemically to factory farmed McSized proportions for profit, affordability and accessibility.

Is this authenticity?  

When I speak out against the exploitation of Filipino nannies as human slavery, some divas drops their Starbucks cup in horror, accusing me of being a bitch and blocking me on social forums because they don’t want to hear my personal truth.

Or is it because it resonates so deeply on so many levels when I’m merely the messenger?

Yep, you know the one. Me. I’m the person who gets ‘em all stewin’ and a gossipin’.

Yet it’s a great barometer for those who feel their moral compass is crisscrossed, misaligned and in need of their feet on the ground and pointed in the right direction.

I always believe in when and where to pick battles. Which hill shall we die on today?

Is it truth serum or truth ceremony? Ultimately any form of confrontation lands as criticism rather than loving kindness.

Not surprisingly, I get a lotta hate mail:

“For someone that is supposed to be so spiritually enlightened you sure like to make a lot of judgments and digs at other people’s lives…If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it all!!”

Humans are chameleons in everyday life, depending on those we’re with and the circumstances of where we are.

Behind a keyboard there’s less filter and a little more hyperbole. I’m sure I’ve hurt people’s feelings online which is a bummer, but which is more important, truth or non-harming?

When face-to-face, we give each other a big hug and laugh it off. Many friends also say in person how entertaining my rants and writing are. Oh well!

So am I a bully for being a lifestyle Nazi or standing up for what I believe to be true? Do I ride the short bus for telling people to spell properly and who can’t take a joke? It’s called wit not twit. So when friends criticize my media posts or public behavior, does that mean I’m viewed as a spiritual haven or heathen?

And I aint’ backin’ down.

As well as my English teacher grandma taught me in the proficiencies of spelling, speaking and manners, this isn’t a dress rehearsal. So I better get it right the first time. Appeasing others feelings while neglecting my own isn’t some popularity contest—I wasn’t put here on the planet to be a salve to your wounds.

I’m here to spit truth like it is from my perspective. It’s the last spin for me on this blackjack reincarnation wheel.

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Assist Ed: Julie Garcia/Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Elissa Scott

Elissa Scott is devoted to driving everyone alongside her crazy with her wildly wanton, truthful nature.  Her mantra is loving life and is blessed with four dazzling offspring and equally maddened, adoring and brilliant Besties. Many people find her entertaining and lively, while others seek cover from this tornado-on-tour. As a Yoga Messenger, Artist and Writer based in Canada, this Sacred Space, Home Couture addict, sometimes professional, is found seeking truth, revolution and social justice. Find Elissa in beditation, pajamayama, a hammock by the sea, sprawled out under pines or in other mind-full adventures, like traveling the world. Love now! Connect with her on Facebook and Linked In.



6 Responses to “Ahimsa vs. Satya: Is Being Honest More Important than Being Compassionate? ~ Elissa Scott”

  1. Russ says:

    Wise words to take to heart. The truth sometimes hurts, but not being true to yourself and speaking your personal truth is worse. You can't always please everyone, nor should one have to. Always refreshing and thought provoking to your read your work!

  2. Momo says:

    Is it not possible to be compassionate and non-harming and genuine?

    Also, I drink coffee from Starbucks.

  3. amphibi1yogini says:

    Starbucks ? Why not Pret à Manger? They've got, IMHO, better tasting coffee.
    And organic. Have to be fussy about taste these days … it's more or less Pret or go local …

  4. are says:

    Unfortunately the truth is different for everyone, what you may believe to be true is not my truth. Our truths are shaded and colored by our life experiences… so I believe in compassion, truth which embodies compassion.

  5. Mille says:

    Why imply that acting with compassion is somehow the less honest choice? Compassion isn't about the impossible task of pleasing everyone, or never saying or doing anything that could possibly hurt someone's delicate feelings. None of us has the right to never be offended. If while being true to ourselves and standing up for what we believe in, we occasionally step on some toes, then so be it. However, to act with compassion is to consider whether our "honesty" is actually intended to enlighten or help, or whether it is simply rude and mean-spirited, meant only to amuse ourselves and exert superiority over the unfortunate recipient. Even the most difficult and painful truths *can* be delivered with kindness and compassion if we value and respect the person on the receiving end; it just takes more effort than simply throwing "truth" around with no regard for anyone's feelings but our own.

  6. Momo says:

    There is no Pret à Manger where I live. Also, Starbucks has organic coffee. Thanks for the recommendation though.