There is one page in my beat up copy of The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali that is dog-eared for quick access, and it is Sutra 1.33 (translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda):
“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.” (numbered bullets are mine)
So here we have four simple keys to living a life of serenity. The rest of of the Sutras are devoted to peacefulness, but these four keys turn around and deal with the outside world around us, as opposed to looking inward or working on ourselves physically or mentally, as yoga so often does.
1. Befriend the Happy
Get to know happy, positive people, and simply show them friendliness. Do not bring your jealousy, suspicions, or disdain anywhere near them, otherwise you risk repelling good people who could enrich your life. Plus, that’s nasty. Plus, that will destroy your chances for peacefulness.
2. Have Compassion for the Unhappy
If someone you know is unhappy, or you know of people somewhere in the world who are unhappy, let your compassion grow. Do not turn your back and disregard them completely. Showing mercy helps ourselves, as it helps everyone. Conversely, being merciless harms ourselves. Showing compassion may ultimately reveal ways you can help and make a difference.
3. Delight in the Virtuous
Oh, those “holier-than-thou” types, right? Goody-two-shoes, etc. Just be happy that they are on to paths that work for them. We are each on our own path, and all our lives are different. As when encountering happy people, keep your envy away and don’t try pulling them down. “Appreciate the virtuous qualities in him and try to cultivate them in your own life” writes Satchidananda.
4. Disregard the Wicked
OK this is where I got it so wrong for so long! Whenever you encounter disturbed, unbalanced, malicious persons, ignore them. Completely. Tactfully and gracefully, and just don’t go there with them. Your life will be so much better once you stop rewarding wicked people with your time. Don’t try fixing them, as I was want to do earlier in my life. Clean house! If someone in your immediate family or one of your best friends falls into this category, use care and tact, but secretly demote him or her to a secondary or tertiary position in the hierarchy of the relationships in your life.
Keep calm and…remember Patanjali’s four keys.