The Four Locks - The Four Keys


Lock 1: Happiness; Key: Friendliness

We might think it is natural to be friendly toward someone who is happy. Unfortunately, this is not always true. There are times when another's happiness (or success) reminds us of our failures or unfilled desires. Though we may not become overtly angry or depressed, our well-wishing could be mixed with envy or jealousy. For example, this might happen if a friend receives the promotion we hoped for. Our good thoughts could be diminished by regret or envy.

Sir Patanjali recommends cultivating friendliness toward the happy as the key to undisturbed calmness. We should make friends with happiness, get to know it, give it proper attention and respect. If we dwell on happiness, looking for it like a miner's eye seeks gold, we will cultivate it in our lives.

Lock 2: Unhappiness; Key: Compassion 

Sometimes the unhappiness of others feels like a burden. we may become impatient, wondering how our brother can make the same mistake over and over again. Perhaps we think that he should just get over his grief and get on with life. There are times when the suffering of others can makes us uneasy or frightened. In our discomfort, we turn away from them.

Instead, whenever we see unhappiness we should use the compassion key. To be compassionate doesn't necessarily mean that we cry when our brother cries or become angry in order to support our sister's frustration. In the name of compassion there are times when the appropriate response is to deliver a strong piece of advice that is difficult to hear. However, behind our actions, we should cherish one overriding motive; the welfare of others. All actions should proceed from a place of caring and loving.

A compassionate heart is a comfort and support to many. We develop compassion by recalling acts of kindness that have benefited us while remembering the pain, alienation, despair, and confusion caused by suffering.

Compassion requires courage and strength: the courage to move beyond our own concerns to connect to the suffering of others, and the strength to help bear their suffering.

Lock 3: Virtuous; Key: Delight

Virtues are moral traits - such as patience, courage, reliability - that bring benefit to others and harm to no one. They are signs of spiritual maturity and serve as reliable compasses with which we can navigate the uncertainties of life's choices.

Virtues can be developed through study and contemplation or, through recognizing their presence in others. In other words, we should cultivate the habit of celebrating virtues wherever we recognize them. The more we rejoice in them, the sooner they will be ours.

This practice is especially useful in encounters with people  who make us uncomfortable or whom we do not like. Everyone has at least some virtues. Are we perceptive enough to recognize any in our enemies? We might find that behavior we once understood as obnoxious might reveal perseverance. What we once regarded as pushy now gives us a glimpse into the benefits of firm convictions.

Lock 4: Nonvirtuous; Key: Equanimity

Upeksha, translated as "equanimity," comes from upa, "to go near or toward," and iksha, "to look at or on." We can understand it as the ability to clearly perceive the nature of the nonvirtuous act through close and unbiased examination.

Sad to say, we all too often witness or are victims of injustices. Not promoting aloofness or praising an uncaring attitude. Even though anger often feels justifiable and sometimes seems like the best way to correct and injustice, Sri Patanjali doesn't find it an acceptable attitude for a yogi to have. Instead, we are challenged to do something that may seem counterintuitive when we face a nonvirtuous act: keep our equanimity.

Inside the Yoga Sutras: A Comprehensive Sourcebook for the Study & Practice of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

(Inside The Yoga Sutras, by reverend Jaanath Carrera)

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