अहिंसाप्रतिष्ठायां तत्सन्निधौ वैरत्याग I
ahiṁsā-pratiṣṭāyāṁ tat-sannidhau vairatyāgaḥ
That person (tat) who is deeply rooted (pratiṣṭāyāṁ) in the art of kindness (ahiṁsā) affects those around (sannidhau) him/her by causing them to give up (tyāgaḥ) their aggressiveness (vaira).
PRACTICAL LIVING Back in sūtra II.3 we learned that the causes of suffering (kleśāḥ) are: (i) misunderstanding (avidya); (ii) ego (asmitā); (iii) desire (rāga); (iv) aversion/denial (dveṣa); and (v) fear (abhiniveśāḥ). The more we work on self-reflection, the more aware we are of those forces in our lives. The more aware we are, the greater our ability to change, to transform. The more we change, the kinder and more loving we become with both ourselves and others. Love and kindness is contagious. People around us are affected by our kindness. I once thought I needed to be saving lives in desperate countries in order to make a difference in the world. Now I understand that by working on myself, my ability to love others increases, which means I am making a big difference.
IN THE YOGA WORLD Some people have deeply understood these forces (misunderstanding, ego, desire, avoidance and fear) within and have worked with them to the extent that they no longer affect them. They don’t act on desire neither run away from conflict or pain. They are very aware of the nature and power of the ego and the influence of fear. With that clarity and wisdom, such people have the ability to live with an open heart and exude kindness. They have a profound understanding that we are all souls ‘wearing’ a certain outfit. Just like we might wear a formal dress or tuxedo to a fancy party (and that is not who we are, but simply what we are wearing), so in this life we are souls (who we really are) packaged in this tux or dress that we call the body and mind. But just like in that party where we are completely identified with how we look (we run to the mirrors to make sure we look good), so in life we over identify with our bodies and thoughts and ignore the greatest potential within: the soul.
Ram Dass, a great spiritual teacher once said: “I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion–and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies.” What a profound way to view and live life! If our aim is to love everyone, our biggest teachers are the people that annoy the ego the most. This is big work, a lifetime of work…
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON On my last trip to India I visited a museum dedicated to a man who dedicated his life to kindness: Mahatma Gandhi. As people rushed through the museum, I carefully and meticulously studied every photograph and every fact of his life. I was moved to tears several times during my visit. This man lived, to the best of his ability, on the value of “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” He lived to serve others so he could understand himself better: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” An activist, political leader and passionate believer of non-violence, this man had a huge influence not only in India, but on the world. People all around the globe look up to his life and his values and quote him regularly. Thank you Gandhiji for dedicating your life to such a BIG and simple yet complex value: kindness.
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences! Thanks and next week we will discuss the power of truth and honesty!