Patanjali’s way of dealing with people!


I’m sure you’ll be able to recall that day when you left for office with a happy and joyful mood? But, unfortunately, you bumped up into that miserable friend of yours on your way. All of a sudden your joy got converted into wrath and you felt like shouting at his face and telling him to “shut up” and stop complaining so much about life. But do you realize that in shouting at him and getting angry, you first had to destroy all your joy and develop anger so that you could pass it on to that person? You made a big loss, didn’t you?

Throughout our life, we meet various kinds of people and behave in a varied manner with them. “Patanjali Yoga Sutra” one of the well-known ancient scriptures of India has presented four attitudes essential for a human being to deal with four different kinds of people we meet. Bliss flows continuously through the being of the one who adheres to these attitudes.

Let’s have a look at them.

1)’Maitri (Friendliness)’ with happy people: –

What happens when you see somebody who is happier than you? Do you try to join them in their happiness or develop the feeling of jealousy, hatred, and anger towards them for being more happier than you? Take this simple example. If you are thirsty and you see somebody with a bottle of water, what do you do? Do you ask for some water or start envying that person? A person with basic common sense would ask for some water. In a similar fashion, when we find somebody who is happier than us, we should immediately connect to such a person through the bond of friendship. This creation of connection will immediately allow the happiness to flow both the ways.

2) ‘Karuna (Compassion)’ with suffering people: –

Showing compassion towards beings that are suffering is a way of tuning in to their level and experiencing their unhappiness, without being attached to it. Having compassion for others does not end just by feeling their suffering, actions should be taken to the extent possible. The reason for developing the attitude of compassion is to break the illusion of “individuality”. By considering the pain of another individual as our own, a sense of unity and oneness prevails within us, which is of utmost importance in the journey towards the path of self-knowing.

3) ‘Mudita (Joy)’ with virtuous people: –

Virtuous here means an individual who is higher than us in one or more aspects of life. Seeing somebody else develop at a quicker pace than us should not stimulate us to gossip about them but should motivate us to delight their success and learn from them. Selfless joy can help an individual in developing self along with celebrating the success of others whereas; jealousy and hatred will not only spoil the relation but also hinder the individual’s growth.

4) ’Upeksha (Equanimity)’ with non-virtuous people: –

When encountered by people who are cruel or wicked, Patanjali advises to remain indifferent towards their behavior and not develop any kind of hatred for them. Obviously, love needs to be showered on such beings in order to heal them, but that is a task of highly spiritual souls who can handle their wickedness. What we can do is, develop a sense of equanimity and remain indifferent towards them.

The Patanjali Yoga Sutras mention that when these four attitudes are developed within an individual the vrittis (i.e. attachments and desires) of an individual are dissolved in the undisturbed calmness.

(From the book “Demystifying Patanjali Yog Sutra” by Swami Kriyananda)


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