“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.33.
I was a quiet kid. Very cerebral (shocking, I know), VERY sensitive and hyper-aware of how I was perceived. Book in hand like it was an appendage I was born with, I was comfortable in my own world, a steady stream of words at the ready to draw me into other realms and imagined realities. Soon my love affair with music began as the pop-rock, punk and alternative anthems of the late 70’s and early 80’s started to resonate with me, and I soon found myself a helpless (and willing) victim to the artistry that period was rich with.
As I mentioned in The Examined Life, once you have things you own, you end up having things to defend, and when I began to fall victim to my ego-self, as all kids do, I saw how different I was from other kids. I wasn’t out playing sports, I wasn’t hanging with the popular kids, and because my inclination was to not do what the kids I held in the highest esteem were doing, I soon began a serious relationship with inferiority as I felt like I had to defend who I was.
I was pretty much left alone by other kids, with a few exceptions. I had friends, absolutely, but what I now look back in hindsight on as being left alone because I was confidently doing my own thing was then interpreted as not being good enough to hang with the others. And yet, on the rare occasion, someone would step out of the fray and approach me or befriend me, and that one act of kindness and friendliness changed everything. That one act, of what I considered bravery, served as a tiny beam of light that would intensify every time I found myself accepted by others.
I obviously now know that the acceptance of others is a by-product of living a life of authenticity and truth and should never be the desired goal that one seeks to attach to, but back then, in those formative years, it came as a huge relief. A drop of friendliness felt like an ocean of acceptance, and I was so hungry to be accepted.
I’ve always been aware that friendliness is a choice, one that many overlook as the selfishness of the ego acts as the decision-maker. I don’t take any act of kindness for granted, and in the majority of my waking moments, I do my best to channel kindness, friendliness and compassion, as a choice. I know full well how far kindness and friendliness go, and as far as I’m concerned, as a student of yoga and one who endeavours to live a life according to its principles, the sutra from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras mentioned above needs to be expanded to include:
“By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, gratitude towards the friendly/kind, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.” – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.33.
This sutra is said to be the one to take with you, even if you don’t remember any of the other ones, and I realize it’s somewhat pompous of me to tweak ancient wisdom, but in my opinion and experience, I felt the most peace when kindness was shown to me. It brought me back to centre, to peace and well-being.
For more information on Sutra 1.33 check out this interpretation…