I have been re-reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (for like, the hundredth time) and I’m always inspired all over again whenever I pick it up.
If you are interested at all in a deeper understanding of the way of life that comes with a yoga practice then this book is a must read.
Patanjalis Yoga Sutras are sacred threads upon which words are strung. These words, a series of 196 brief statements, are pearls of wisdom, strung together to create one great tapestry, that embodies the essence of yoga philosophy. These sutras outline the eight limbs of yoga, guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.
So, I’ve decided that I’m going to share one of the sutras that has particular relevance to my journey each week.
This week is the one that really sticks out for me – Book 1, Sutra 33;
मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम्॥३३॥
maitri-karuna-mudita-upeksanam sukha-duhkha-punya-apunya-visayanam bhavanatah-citta-prasadanam
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.
From my own personal experience, this sutra alone provides a way that you can keep a peaceful mind every day of your life.
Sri Swami Satchidananda translates this sutra with an analogy of four keys; friendliness, compassion, delight & indifference. These keys fit the four kinds of locks in the world, which come in the form of happy people, unhappy people, the virtuous and the wicked, and suggests that at any given moment, you can fit any person into one of these four categories.
This sutra is the suggestion that we replace tendencies such as jealousy, hatred and anger with those of friendliness, joy, compasssion and detachment.
We should practice being happy for the happy people – be happy for them and celebrate with them. Often we feel jealous that someone else is happier than us, poisoning ourselves and often ruining others’ success.
For the unhappy people, or those who are suffering – have compassion for them, acquiring a softness and consideration towards the other person, without judgement of their situation.
For those who are successful – offer praise and be delighted for them. The ego can manifest as envy when we see others succeeding, when we should be appreciative of their virtuous qualities and try to cultivate them in our own lives.
Finally, for the wicked, those who do bad things – Patanjali suggests that we remain indifferent toward these people. We should remain emotionally uninvolved, understanding that these people are themselves suffering and don’t see clearly. Wicked people seldom seldom take advice, and can see it as a boastful act, that you are proud of your own position. These people will only learn by their own experience.
If you can think of another lock or type of person, then let me know, but I believe that if you really think about it, don’t make excuses for a type of behaviour and remove your ego from the situation, there are really only these four. Take a step back and assess your own actions and reactions, and if you find yourself upset then take a look at the person you are dealing with. Do that thing that we talk about, stepping away.
This is a key tool to better equip you for life’s challenges and better connect with ourselves. And we should remember that the goal of yoga is that, connection and self care, creating inner peace.