One of the yoga studios I teach at has a monthly theme and pose. It offers students and teachers alike the chance to delve deeply into the physical and philosophical aspects of yoga. This month the studio is focusing on a Yoga Sutra (1.33) that Patanjali claims to be the one we should all live by even if we disregard everything else.
First, things first. Who is Patanjali? And what are the Yoga Sutras? Patanjali was a sage who lived somewhere between the 4th and 6th century BC. Exactly who he was remains a great mystery. He did however leave us with the Yoga Sutras, 196 verses in four chapters of divine spiritual wisdom that have guided and inspired yogis for centuries.
Yoga Sutra 1.33
Maitri Karuna Mudita Upekshanam Sukha Duhka Punya Apunya Vishayanam Bhavanatah Chitta Prasadanam
In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are unhappy, delight towards those who are virtuous, and indifference towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
Patanjali believed that everyone fell into four categories: happy, unhappy, virtuous, and wicked. He also believed that we all must carry four keys/attitudes with which to unlock our relationships with others: friendliness, compassion, gladness, and indifference. Using the proper key/attitude allows us to retain our serenity of mind and lessen our own suffering.
How much time do you spend getting worked up over relationships and interactions with others? How many times do you find yourself rehashing a conversation or an interaction you had with someone? How many times do you catch yourself plotting what you are going to say or do the next time that person who pushes your buttons and walks all over you does something you don’t like? If you are like me, too much time and too much mental energy go into these things. Our minds don’t have to be cluttered and chattering away all the time. In fact, we are naturally inclined toward serenity. (Soak that in for a moment.) If we could allow ourselves to be friendly toward those who are happy, compassionate toward those who are unhappy, delighted for those who are virtuous, and indifference toward those who we perceive as wicked we could come closer to realizing the innate purity of our minds.
I will leave you with this for now. Over the next few days I will delve more deeply into my personal experiences of trying to authentically apply this Yoga Sutra to my own life and what has transpired.