These words are both a prayer for peace and a request for guidance on the spiritual path. Reminiscent of the sentiments in the prayer of Saint Francis, this mantra is a humble appeal to either a guru, a higher power, or the True Self within. As we repeat it, we ask that we may be led towards enlightenment, and that our personal transformation may contribute to universal peace.
In the first line of the mantra, the word sat refers to truth or reality, while asat indicates the exact opposite. In the teachings of the Vedas, something is only a truth if it exists in the past, present, and future. In this view, anything temporary, like our thoughts and emotions, are therefore non-truths. Focusing our energy on such non-truths often results in suffering, so instead the yogi who uses this mantra turns to the reality of the eternal Self.
The terms darkness and light indicate a shift from ignorance to knowledge. The knowledge of our true nature erases the darkness of ignorance which tells us that we are limited. And when we invoke immortality, we’re not literally asking to live forever in this lifetime, but rather to recognize that we are more than simply the body and the mind. We are infinite.
As we complete the mantra with shanti, the Sanskrit word for peace, we remember that these realizations ultimately serve the purpose of creating peacefulness — both within us and throughout the world.
Use this mantra when you feel the need to take refuge in the knowledge of your divine, eternal Self. May it bring you the deep peace you seek.
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