Peace of mind can be hard to come by, especially interacting in the world with a variety of personalities and belief systems.
My beliefs about myself and the world around me influence how I interact with others. How I interact with others inevitably creates my life circumstances.
So, when I have difficult feelings when interacting with people who have different beliefs then I do, I categorize them as happy, unhappy, virtuous or wicked as recommended in The Yoga Sutras. And, even though I may categorize a person this way, it does not mean that they are categorized in that way by others. As a matter of fact, we can all be in each of those categories according to another person’s perceptions of us.
By categorizing my perceptions of people, it helps me to cultivate attitudes that will reinforce more peaceful thoughts. More peaceful thoughts will improve my interactions with others, in turn aligning my life circumstances with my dharma (highest purpose). True happiness can
then be established.
In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Satchidananda explains that if anyone takes away anything from reading the sutras, let it be this sutra:
“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard for the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” 1:33
1. Friendliness toward the Happy
Have you ever felt jealous of someone’s love life, wealth or vitality? Have you thought, “why can’t I have what this person has?” Just that single thought can compromise our own happiness. As we cultivate an attitude of friendliness toward a happy person, we become a magnet for the same joy.
2. Compassion for the unhappy
Have you ever felt annoyed by someone who complains or begs? Have you ever thought that you don’t want to deal with another person’s problems? Often we don’t realize the years of inner turmoil an unhappy person has reinforced. As we wish for stressful circumstances to change, so does an unhappy person. By cultivating an attitude of compassion for the unhappy, we break down the wall between “you” and “me” and strengthen our own empathy. By strengthening empathy, we create life circumstances that care for our personal growth and happiness.
3. Delight in the virtuous
Have you ever felt annoyed by someone who is living virtuously? They do no harm whether through thought, word or action to one’s self or others. They don’t gossip or consume unhealthy foods or drinks. When we cultivate an attitude of delight in the virtuous, we begin to see the value of living virtuously in the world for our own health and the health of the planet. We too become like an instrument perfectly tuned to play the Divine’s music.
4. Disregard for the wicked
Have you ever felt angry when someone criticizes your belief systems? This is a common one for me as a vegan who believes that no animals should be exploited for any reason. The cultural consensus is that animals need to be killed for food regardless of the animal’s desire for life. What I have found is that anger only fuels an unproductive argument. Both sides want to be right. Rather, by cultivating an attitude of disregard for the wicked, we develop the ease to speak with truth and love from our own personal perspectives, and the wisdom to know when to walk away from an unproductive argument.
The universe supports whatever we put out, so by cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard for the wicked, we will have healthier interactions with others contributing to life circumstances that support our highest purpose.
Author: Margie Pacher
Editor: Caroline Beaton