Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 33: Generating Compassion for the Negative

How many times do you end up feeling negative feelings when somebody throws or hands you something negative? If somebody gets angry at you, if somebody cuts you off, if somebody is not super friendly, if somebody does not thank you or express appreciation for you, if somebody does not react in a way that you expect them to, or if somebody is simply upset and having a bad day when it may have nothing to do with you at all, how often do we respond to these situations with thoughts, feelings, and actions that are negatively-rooted.

We tend to react to negativity with more negativity, right? Why? This is the natural tendency, but it doesn't really make much sense. It is just fuel to the fire. We are feeding it then. When somebody gets angry or upset with us, we generally are offended, become defensive, or even feel guilty and ashamed. None of this is helpful. The Ego likes to do this, because the Ego likes to make everything about us. Yes, it is all about us. Don't these reactions generally compound and worsen things though?

You have a choice what you want to take on and what you want to put out there in return. We forget that, and you do not need to accept the negativity that is being dealt to you, so long as you can train yourself to not feed this negativity with more negativity.

The next time you find yourself in a situation such as this, try just responding with compassion. Not guilt or shame or fear or anger or resentment or frustration or sadness, just compassion. Because you are then taking the Ego out of it. While feelings of guilt and shame imply that you are sorry for any wrongdoing, they are still sentiments that are about us, they are self-serving, and therefore somewhat selfish. Compassion or love is selfless.

Patanjali recommends this very same thing in Sutra 33. He says to have compassion for the unhappy; to have friendliness for the happy; to feel happiness in the virtuous or the good; and to feel equanimity for the wicked or the evil.

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