The Path to Peace of Mind

Maitri ~ Karuna ~ Mudita ~ Upeksha | Friendliness ~ Compassion ~ Contentment ~ Indifference

मैत्री करुणा मुदितोपेक्षाणांसुखदुःख पुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातः चित्तप्रसादनम् ॥३३॥

“All that is mutable in human beings (chitta) is harmonized through the cultivation of love (maitri), helpfulness (karuna), conviviality (mudita) and imperturbability (upeksha) in situations that are happy, painful, successful or unfortunate” ~ sentence 33, Samadhi Pada, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

There are 196 Yoga Sutras or aphorism (an original thought written or spoken in a concise form). Written around 100 BCE, the Sutras describes the Eight Limbed path or steps to happiness. According to Sri Patanjali, Maitri, Karuna, Mudita and Upeksha are the four great virtues one needs to cultivate in order to gain peace of mind.

Maitri / friendliness ~ Loving yourself before being able to extend that love to others. Accepting others and ourselves for who they {we} are, without judging or labeling. It constitutes the base of human relationship, without which these cannot exist. Although friendliness may not be so difficult, sometimes, accepting who we are, good and bad sides equal, is where the challenge lies.

Karuna / Compassion ~ Being helpful, providing assistance. Recognizing that we are all important to others, that we all have a role to play, and realizing that without others we would not be. True compassion is “when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them” (Tenzin Gyatso, XIVth Dalai Lama).

Mudita / Contentment ~ Similar to the Fifth Yama Aparigraha, this is the concept of non-coveting, rejecting jealousy and greed as a behavior that is acceptable. If someone has more than you, be happy for them. If you have more than others, share with them. Do not cultivate feelings of superiority or inferiority. Be content and grateful for the abundance you already have and acknowledge it. By being aware of what you have, you will be more easily able to grab onto the opportunities as they present themselves.

Upeksha / Indifference ~ Or, imperturbability. When you come across wicked and mean-spirited people, be indifferent to them. On the other hand, in any relationship you are bound to see someone’s lesser personality; remember that it does not make you better than them and that you also have your flaws. When you judge others you do not define who they are, you define yourself.

Peace of mind, for me, is the foundation we should strive to build on. By having such a strong base we become anchored and grounded people. Just as the long roots of the Lotus flower allows it to ride the waves, they always bring it back to its center. Namaste.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. chattingwithspirit
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 12:27:38

    I do love the sentiment of these virtues, but question how we can always realistically bring them into our own lives.

    The one I have the most problem with is Indifference.

    How difficult this is when someone is mean-spirited or wicked and happens to be a close relative who has or still is wreaking havoc on yours, and others, lives due their wickedness. Should we really just be indifferent and allow their behaviour to continue or should we intervene and try to assist those who have been/are hurting by their actions? I have considered this on many occasions, but never seem to come up with an answer that fits all situations.

    I love this post though, anything that opens my mind and brings forward even more questions is always good ….. I think!


  2. Vero Barnes
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 14:57:42

    Thank you for your comment Tisha. It is definitely a hard thing to do. One would say we have to have compassion for these people even more, but easier said than done!

    I guess that we can try and help some people to see what they are doing but then, in the end, it is always up to them. I think that in this context, being indifferent means not to waste our energy on feelings of hatred or anger towards those who seek only to hurt us (or others). Detaching ourselves from the situation, understanding that they are in pain and that they too are seeking happiness in their lives (although it may not seem like they are sometimes!), can help us become less involved.

    Finally, like everything, this is not something that can be done from one day to the next. It takes a lot of will, perseverance and patience. And so, when they come looking for an argument, we become better at not offering it to them, recognizing that it will only cause everyone pain.

    I really liked your closing thoughts: that there is something very positive in opening our minds and bringing these questions forward. Have a good day!


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