As I was leaving my yoga class there were a couple of students talking about another teacher. How fantastic the class was, what a fantastic teacher, no really really good. I suddenly felt totally deflated. Like give up teaching deflated. I felt no joy whatsoever for the other teacher’s virtue, no it was a mixed feeling or inadequacy and jealousy.
According to the Yoga Sutra there are four types of people in this world. The happy, the unhappy, the virtuous and the wicked. At any one time we can be one of these people or any one day we can be all four. We all have friends we can categorise. Some days it doesn’t matter what moods or traits people are displaying we just breeze through, but some days the traits of others will get to us. We don’t want the happy person around us, they can make us feel depressed. We don’t want to see others virtue it can make us feel under achieving or lazy, we can’t be bothered with someones’ depression because we just want them to stop being so self-indulgent, and we when see wicked we turn our backs.
The Sutra refers to these four traits as ‘locks’. To ‘unlock’ or get on with someone or even yourself what you need are four keys, and they are; Friendliness, compassion, delight and disregard.
When you see a happy person, use the “friendliness” key. This means being able to share in another person’s happiness or good fortune, instead of being jealous or trying to destroy their joy through a bitter attitude or negative verbal comments. Jealousy will only eat into you.
When you see an unhappy person, use the “compassion” key. When someone is upset, try to help them or comfort them if you can. If they need space, then leave them alone after letting them know you will be there for them when they are ready. Don’t take pleasure in seeing someone else suffer, but remember how it felt when it happened to you and have compassion for them. Compassion is one trait that reminds you we are all connected through our problems.
When you see a virtuous person, use the “delight” key. If you see a virtuous person, feel delighted. If someone is doing really well you can feel diminished in your abilities. Don’t. Instead try to appreciate their success and find your own version of it in your life.
When you see a wicked (non-virtuous) person, use the “disregard” key. We need to develop equanimity towards those whose actions oppose our values. It would be wonderful if all people always acted with honor and consciousness, but unfortunately this is not always the way. We ourselves, may have acted, spoken, or thought unkindly or hurt another person. So become indifferent to the person who is wicked at the moment.
Practice for today: Observe today what categories you and others fall into. How can you show friendliness, compassion, delight and disregard where needed?
Yoga Sutra I.33 from Patanjali says:
maitri karuna muditopeksanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam bhavanatas 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.”