In my post, What Does “Yoga” Really Mean? I talk about the Yoga Sutras. (For basic information regarding yoga and what a Sutra is, refer to that entry as a basis for this entry.) Today I am writing about a Sutra from Samadhi Pada, or the Portion on Contemplation, Book One of the Sutras, Sutra 33 out of 200. I am using The Yoga Sutras of Patanjail by Sri Swami Satchidananda as my guide. I studied this Sutra during my Yoga teacher training. These pages are starred, underlined, and “daily life” is written with a box around it in the margin. (My eighth grade teacher taught me how to “actively” read).
Satchidananda’s translation of the sanskrit Sutra is:
By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
This Sutra is indeed, very applicable to daily life. Whether or not you practice Yoga or ever intend to, everyone’s goal (I presume) is to be happy (In turn, have a peaceful mind). Remember, that is the goal of Yoga– to bring and keep serenity of the mind.
Patanjali gives four keys: friendliness, compassion, delight, and disregard. There are only four kinds of locks in the entire world– so if you keep these four keys with you always, any lock you come across you have the ability to open. You might be wondering what the four locks are…In sanskrit: sukha, dukha, punya, and apunya– the happy people, the unhappy people, the virtuous, and the wicked. Although it may be hard to believe, at any given moment you can fit any person into one of these four categories.
When you see a happy person, use the “friendliness” key. Why does Patanjali need to say this? Even thousands of years ago some people must not have been happy at seeing others happy. Instead of being jealous or criticizing other’s fame or fortune, it is better to honor their merit and smile. Feelings of jealousy do not disturb the happy person, but the person feeling jealous– disturbing the mind. When I am walking numerous blocks in the hot California sun to my street parking spot in Pacific Heights and see someone in their shiny Land Rover pull up to their garage, (in front of their multimillion dollar home) Satchidananda suggests I (insert your story and you, here) should “Make that person your friend.” Individuals not only falter on this issue, but entire nations. Neighboring countries should not be jealous or want to ruin other prospering economies.
Maybe you get cut in line at the coffee shop or someone you know is seemingly always complaining and unhappy. We’ve all met and known the complainers and the hard-to-please. For those– have compassion. Be merciful and if you can, share half of your loaf. By doing this, you will retain peace and poise of your mind. Whether or not they can feel our mercy or it helps them, by feeling mercy ourselves we are helped.
Sort of like the happy people, the aim here is to feel delighted for the virtuous. Think he or she is great, and try to imitate their great qualities. Abolish the envy and urge to pull him or her down. Appreciate the qualities, learn from them, and try to cultivate them into your own life.
We cannot deny coming across wicked people in our life sometimes. Our attitude should be indifference. Maybe you were like that yesterday or some other period in your life. Hopefully, you are a better person since that day/period in your life and in turn, hope that the wicked will be all right in time. Satchidananda also says:
“Don’t try to advise such people because wicked people seldom take advice. If you try to advise them, you will lose your peace…If you advise them they take it as an insult. They think you are proud of your position. If you sense even a little of that tendency in somebody, stay away. He or she will have to learn by experience.”
To illustrate, Satchidananda recalls a story he heard when he was a young boy about a sparrow and a monkey. One rainy day a monkey was sitting on a tree branch getting completely soaked. Opposite of the monkey on another branch was a sparrow sitting in a hanging nest, staying warm and dry. The sparrow saw the monkey getting drenched from the rain, and points out that even though he only has a small beak and no hands like the monkey, that he built the nice nest (home) expecting the rain. He also points out that Darwin said the monkey was the forefather of human beings, so why hasn’t he used his brain to build himself a house? The monkey made a terrible face, and yelled at the sparrow for advising and teasing him, and then tore the sparrow’s home to pieces. The sparrow was left to fly out and get drenched in the rain. So whether or not your home would get wrecked by the wicked you advise, the way to keep your peace of mind is to stay indifferent.
So remember your four keys (attitudes): friendliness, compassion, gladness, and disregard. If you use the right key with the right person, you will retain your peace and nothing can upset you then.