Maitri, karuna, mudita, upekshanam…

B.K.S Iyengar states in Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, in his commentary on Sutra 1.33: “This sutra asks us to rejoice with the happy, to be compassionate to the sorrowful, friendly to the virtuous, and indifferent to those who continue to live in vice despite our attempts to change them.”

Patanjali lists this as the first of the contemplative practices that are the antidote to the obstacles that come on the path of every practitioner. Friendliness not as a means to make someone else’s life easier but to still our own mind. Compassion for those who are suffering, not to alleviate their pain but as an antidote to our own inclination to harm. Not letting ourselves be touched by evil around us, so that we can rise above that lower tendency within ourselves.

I find it very moving that these words were written in a world so far removed from ours, so many years ago, by people living the same human experience as we are now. The circumstances may be very different but the struggles certainly weren’t!

“Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favourably disposed, serene and benevolent.” ~Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.33.