Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Yoga Sutra 1.33: Meditation on Four Attitudes

Expand Messages
  • Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
    Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1.33: Meditation on Four Attitudes http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-13339.htm#1.33 (Useful graphics are shown at this link along with text)
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 27 12:46 AM
    • 0 Attachment
      Yoga Sutras: Sutra 1.33:
      Meditation on Four Attitudes
      http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-13339.htm#1.33
      (Useful graphics are shown at this link along with text)

      YOGA SUTRA 1.33: In relationships, the mind becomes purified by
      cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy,
      compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who
      are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we
      perceive as wicked or evil.
      (maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam
      bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

      MAITRI = friendliness, pleasantness, lovingness
      KARUNA = compassion, mercy
      MUDITA = gladness, goodwill
      UPEKSHANAM = acceptance, equanimity, indifference, disregard,
      neutrality
      SUHKA = happy, comfortable, joyous
      DUHKA = pain, misery, suffering, sorrow
      PUNYA = virtuous, meritorious, benevolent
      APUNYA = non-virtuous, vice, bad, wicked, evil, bad, demerit, non-
      meritorious
      VISHAYANAM = regarding those subjects, in relation to those objects
      BHAVANATAH = by cultivating habits, by constant reflection,
      developing attitude, cultivating, impressing on oneself
      CHITTA = mind field, consciousness
      PRASADANAM = purified, clear, serene, pleasant, pacified,
      undisturbed, peaceful, calm

      EACH ATTITUDE IS A TYPE OF MEDITATION: Each of these four attitudes
      (friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and neutrality) is, in a sense,
      a meditation unto itself. While it is actually a preparation
      practice, it has become popular to use the word meditation in a very
      broad way, rather than as the specific state of dhyana (3.2), as
      normally used by the yogis. Some schools of meditation base their
      entire approach on one or more of these four attitudes. However, to
      the seeker of the absolute reality (1.3), these are practiced as
      valuable steps along the journey, but not the end itself.

      GETTING FREE FROM NEGATIVITY WITH OTHER PEOPLE: In sutra 2.33-2.34,
      the question is posed as to what to do when one does not act or think
      in accordance with yogic values such as non-violence, but rather, has
      negative emotions. What is one to do with such strong negative
      thought patterns? The suggestion is made in those sutras, that we
      cultivate an opposite attitude by reminding ourselves (through
      internal dialogue) that holding onto this negative attitude is going
      to do nothing but bring unending pain and misery (2.34). It also
      points out that, in terms of the inner reaction and effects, there is
      really no difference between three kinds of actions:

      1) We, ourselves carrying out such a negative act
      2) Soliciting another person do it for us, or
      3) Approving of the act when it happens, but without our effort.

      To work with these four attitudes of friendliness, compassion,
      goodwill, and neutrality specifically, we can make much easier
      progress with the practices of the yamas (2.30) and the instructions
      to cultivate the opposite when we become negative (2.34).

      FOUR PERCEPTIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE TO CULTIVATE: Here, in this
      practice, four specific types of people are mentioned (happy,
      suffering, virtuous, non-virtuous), how we perceive them, and what
      attitudes we might cultivate to stabilize, purify, or calm our own
      mind (attitudes of friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and
      neutrality).

      THESE FOUR ENCOMPASS MOST OF OUR RELATIONSHIPS: By memorizing these
      four, and actively observing them in daily life, and during daily
      quiet time, it is much easier to see the vagaries of the mind, and to
      regulate them. Having a short list of four makes the process pretty
      easy to do. Many, if not most or all, of our relationship challenges
      with people encompass one or more of these four.

      HAVE A SPECIFIC ANTIDOTE FOR EACH: Having a specific attitude to
      cultivate for each of the four also makes cultivating change much
      easier to do. It does not mean that you replace all of your other
      fine ideas about how to have good people relationships, but these
      four sure do make a useful practice.


      TOWARDS THOSE WHO ARE HAPPY OR JOYFUL:

      WE MIGHT FEEL RESISTANCE/DISTANCE: Remember how it is that sometimes
      when you are not having such a good day, you might resist being
      around other people who are feeling happy or joyful. It is very easy
      to unintentionally have a negative attitude towards them at such a
      time, even if they are your friends or family members. This is not to
      say that your mind is being 100% negative, but it is the tendency,
      however small, that we want to be mindful of. It is not about setting
      ourselves up for an over expectation of perfection, but a gradual
      process of clearing the clouded mind so that meditation can deepen.

      BETTER TO CULTIVATE FRIENDLINESS/KINDNESS: If you are mindful about
      this normal tendency of the mind, then you can consciously cultivate
      an attitude of friendliness and kindness when you are around these
      happy people, or when you think about them. This conscious act of
      being mindful of the negative tendency of mind, and actively
      promoting the positive and useful has a stabilizing effect and brings
      inner peace and calm. It is being mindful that the mind often holds
      both sides of the attraction and aversion, positive and negative.
      Here, we want to be aware of both, but cultivate the positive and
      useful.


      TOWARDS THOSE WHO ARE IN PAIN OR SUFFERING:

      WE MIGHT FEEL IMPOSITION/FRUSTRATION: You might normally think of
      yourself as being a loving, caring, compassionate person. Yet, notice
      how easy it is to feel the opposite when someone around you is sick.
      You have other plans and suddenly some family member gets sick, or
      there is an extended illness in the family. Surely you care for them,
      but it is also a habit of the mind to feel somewhat imposed upon.
      Again, we are not talking about some 100% negativity or
      psychopathology. These are normal actions of mind that we are
      systematically trying to balance and make serene.

      BETTER TO CULTIVATE COMPASSION/SUPPORT: It is good to observe that
      inclination of the mind, however small. It just means to be mindful
      of it, while at the same time consciously cultivating compassion and
      support for others who are suffering. It does not mean acting, or
      suppressing the contrary thoughts and emotions. It does mean being
      aware, and lovingly choosing to act out of love. Again, we want to be
      mindful of the habits of mind. Unawareness leaves disturbances in the
      unconscious that will disturb meditation. Awareness allows freedom
      and peace of mind.


      TOWARDS THOSE WHO ARE VIRTUOUS OR BENEVOLENT:

      WE MIGHT FEEL INADEQUATE/JEALOUS: We all want to be useful, to be of
      service to our families, friends, and other people, whether in our
      local community or across the world. Often we privately may feel
      there is more we could do, but that we are just not doing it.
      Jealousy and other negative emotions can easily creep in when
      somebody else is sincerely acting in virtuous or benevolent ways. We
      can unconsciously push against such people, whether we know them, or
      they are publicly known people.

      BETTER TO CULTIVATE HAPPINESS/GOODWILL: Better that we cultivate
      attitudes of happiness and goodwill towards such people. It is not
      always easy to cultivate such positive attitudes when, inside, we are
      feeling negative. But something very interesting happens as we become
      a neutral, non-attached witness to our inner process. That is, humor
      comes; the mind is seen to be a really funny instrument to watch, in
      all of its many antics. Then the happiness and goodwill seems to come
      naturally.


      TOWARDS THOSE WHO WE SEE AS BAD OR WICKED:

      WE MIGHT FEEL ANGER/AVERSION: Most of us have some limits of what we
      find as acceptable behavior. We might sincerely hold the belief that
      all people are pure at their deepest level. Yet, are there not some
      individuals you think to be dishonest, cruel, mean, or even wicked,
      or evil? Are there not some behaviors that you consider so outside of
      acceptable conduct that it strongly causes you to feel anger and
      frustration? Even if you really feel strongly about some other person
      in this way, is it not also true that you, yourself, carry the burden
      of this? How to be free from that is the question.

      BETTER TO CULTIVATE NEUTRALITY/ACCEPTANCE: To counterbalance the
      negative feelings toward someone you feel is bad, wicked, or lacking
      in virtue, the antidote is to cultivate an attitude of neutrality,
      indifference, acceptance, or equanimity. It can be difficult to
      cultivate this attitude, since it might make us think we are
      approving of their bad behavior. We seek the neutrality of inner
      balance and equanimity, which does not mean approving of the person's
      actions. In fact, cultivating attitudes of neutrality might go a long
      way in being able to cause change. It surely helps to stabilize and
      clear the mind for meditation.


      INTENTIONAL MEDITATION ON THESE FOUR ATTITUDES: During daily
      meditation time, it can be very useful to spend some time reflecting
      on these four attitudes. You might do them all, or you might practice
      with only one of them for an extended period of time. Simply choose
      one of the four attitudes and allow some person or persons to arise
      in the mind field. You will notice your reactions, the coloring
      mentioned earlier (1.5). As your attention rests on that inner
      impression of that person, allow yourself to cultivate the positive
      or useful attitude. Gradually, the negativity or coloring weakens or
      attenuates (2.4). This is part of the preparation for meditation.

      TALK TO YOURSELF: When you notice any of the negative attitudes
      above, it is very useful to literally remind yourself that this is
      not useful (2.33). You might literally say to yourself, "Mind, this
      is not useful. This attitude is going to bring nothing but pain. You
      need to let go of this." It is also good to remind yourself, "I need
      to cultivate friendliness with this person" (compassion, goodwill, or
      neutrality).

      HOW THESE FOUR ATTITUDES ARE MASTERED: While these four practices are
      used from the very beginning to stabilize and clear the clouded mind,
      the practice becomes far more subtle in later stages of meditation.
      Once there is an ability to perform samyama (3.4-3.6), then each of
      these four become objects themselves for examination with the razor-
      sharp focus and absorption of samadhi. This practice brings the
      perfection of that attitude. This process is described in sutra 3.24.

      http://www.swamij.com
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.