Continuing in our study in Patanjali´s Yoga Sutra #33, let´s focus on the final two phrases of the sutra. As a reminder, the full 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.
Patanjali tells us to "delight in the virtuous". While at the surface this may seems easy, in practice it can take a bit of effort. We all know those people who seem perfect and always have enough time in the day to be the ideal employee, friend, mother, sister, husband, yogi, gardener, hand-stander, you name it! As yogis, we must not fall into the trap of envy or try to pull that person down to a lower level. Instead, we must appreciate how great these people are and strive to be more like them. Okay, okay - I can already sense the smug thoughts bubbling up in all our minds but remember, the point of having these keys is to our own benefit. If we are able to unlock this virtuous category with delight, it will only cause more happiness in our own lives. I know I can think of occasions when I turned to gossiping about someone else because, “she thinks she is so perfect and it’s just annoying.” Ugh, it makes me cringe thinking about it now for two reasons. The first being that this kind of negative thought pattern and conversation benefited no one and only hurt myself; it made me appear petty and jealous and created a space for even more negativity to breed. The second reason is that despite how perfect anyone looks, he or she is battling with his or her own issues. That virtuous person may have self-esteem issues, they may be doing too much and eventually burn out, they could have had a traumatic event happen in their past – we are only seeing what that person is presenting to the outside world. Getting to the point of delighting in the truly virtuous will free the mind of negative thought patterns and misconceptions and only allow more love into your life. Awesome.
Finally, the Sutra tells us to keep a healthy distance from the wicked. We all have people in our lives that drag us down and don't have our best interest at heart. The toxic friend, lover, or maybe even family member is a person we have all known at some point. No matter what we say or what we do, this person will not change. In this situation, step back a healthy distance and acknowledge that these people are not actually wicked, they are only acting wicked. Dissimilar to those in the unhappy category, or lock, the wicked will not heed from a shoulder to cry on or gain from our charity. In these situations, you must create distance between yourself and the person in order to maintain a happy and quiet mind. I am reminded of a friend who spoke about a family member who treated her poorly, spoke down to her, bashed her choices in life, and generally just made her feel bad whenever they had contact. This was a person in my friend´s immediate family so how could she possibly put any sort of healthy distance between them? Life is not always so simple, right? While she may not be able to avoid this person at family events and holidays, she does have it in her power to cut a phone call short or completely avoid any unnecessary conversation. When speaking with the person who is acting wicked, she knows that she will not be able to ´fix´ them so she can stop trying. Trying to fix another person takes a lot of energy and if that person is not ready, it is wasted energy. People can change, absolutely, and when or if they do, we will be the first ones there with an open heart and mind. As yogis, we do not wish harm or ill will upon these wicked people but we also have the power to keep a healthy distance from them in order to keep the peace and tranquility in our own minds.
Quite a big chunk of information to chew on but I advise you do just that - turn this over in your mind for awhile and think of it when you come across these locks in daily life. As Yogi Charu instructed, write this in bold on a piece of paper and stick it on your fridge or your desk or wherever you will see it every day. Especially in a city like New York or Stockholm where we are constantly encountering and surrounded by other people's 'stuff' this is incredibly helpful and important.
Have a great rest of the day, yogis! I love you!