The Laws of Dharma: 9. Truth (satya)

You might be wondering why law number 9 seems, at first glance, identical to law number 4, Honesty. But the satya kind of truth is a much wider and deeper subject than merely getting your thoughts, words and deeds lined up in a row. It is a quality that emanates palpably from those who have realised their satvic nature. It permeates all around them like a halo of light.

The emanation of satya is the result of an alchemical process of the metamorphosis of human consciousness that, just like everything else in the creation, is divided into three stages or gunas.

  • tamas (black – darkness and chaos),
  • rajas (red – activity and passion), and
  • sattva (white – beingness and harmony)

There is a profound misunderstanding in modern-day writings about the three gunas, which is nobody’s fault – well, apart from the Mongols and Mughals.  The Vedic teachings which were written on palm leaves were all destroyed by succeeding invasions from these fanatical types from the 12th century onwards. They razed Indian temples to the ground and murdered the keepers of the Vedic wisdom which had been entrusted orally into their care for generation upon generation, and memorised into song (gita).

Most of the Vedic lore was not recovered until after 1857, when the East India Tea Company eased out the Mughals. But even then, the texts were translated through a Victorian British mindset which was steeped in the religion of Christianity and with no knowledge of alchemy.

So ignorant were these colonialists, that they interpreted the 5,000 year old shamanic-hermetic plays, poems and prose of the rishis as historical records. And because they regarded the indigenous people as only one step up from illiterate savages, they assumed that such deeply sublime literature must have been composed by the white-skinned Aryans mentioned in these allegorical dramas, who were probably more sophisticated, invading Europeans. This was the ultimately tragic misunderstanding of the Vedic metaphorical archetypes for the white sattva stage of being which gave rise to the beliefs of Hitler and the Third Reich.

Thus, in the light of our knowledge about how alchemy works, we are continually revisiting, re-examining and recasting the Vedic teachings and viewing them through a more shamanic and alchemical framework.

The medieval Western hermeticists wrote about the same Mystery teachings as the progress of the human soul on a pilgrimage on Earth that winds through the stages of black, white and red (nigredo, albedo and rubedo), the only difference being that they transposed the colours of red and white. However, it is the same science, because it is based on the same natural processes viewed through a shamanic “microscope”. I believe that this is important because once we understand the three gunas as fluid and intertwining processes, rather that static states of being, it rescues spirituality from the impossibly-demanding, guilt-inducing, religious strictures that just tie us up in knots of “I’m not good enough”.

We are all plenty good enough; we are just at different stages along the journeys of our life, and at different times, will be expressing varying degree of tamas, rajas and sattva as we proceed forwards. Sometimes we need more rajas to fire us up in the morning to complete the tasks of our day. At other times, we need more tamas, so that we can visit the chaotic realms of our dreams, and our mind-body-spirit can process, in the dark, all that no longer serves our highest interests, and then expel it as waste.

We will experience sublime moments of satya; that said, there is no point in deciding that we ought to be expressing more satya when we are not yet ready in our evolution to renounce all and go and sit in the Himalayas clad in only a loincloth.

The three gunas just give us a roadmap of the stages of the journey of not just this one lifetime …but several lifetimes. And just as with all roadmaps, staring at the diagramatic route for how to get to the isle of Iona from London will not get us to Iona. We will reach Iona when we reach Iona. Until then, we can just take in the scenery and enjoy the ride!