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Be Kind

Here is a description of Yoga Sutra 1.33 and what it means. I felt it was an important sutra to be reminded of today and generally all days. Even if you find that you are a kind person, you can always be a little kinder. You never know who you may make a difference for!

A little about Pantanjali’s Sutras! Plus a short story.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali was the very first codification of yoga and sets out the yogic path. It is created in four parts, books or "pada". Each sutra is a short thread or aphorism (the word "sutra" is related to our English word "suture", the thread the surgeon uses to close a wound).

Sometimes these sutras can be taken as a group for study, or sometimes just a single sutra can give scope for endless reflection and meditation.

In the first pada, sutra 33 is one such sutra that can be reflected on, by itself, quite endlessly. Patanjali is laying out the ways in which we can follow the path of yoga, and in this sutra, he bids us to cultivate the four great attitudes of the heart, friendliness or loving-kindness, compassion, joy for others, and equanimity, as the pathway to peace and happiness.

The words are:

maitri (friendliness or loving-kindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (delight), and upeksha (disregard or equanimity)

Why don't you give it a try!!

Maitri Karuna Mantra 1.33:

This is written so that when a syllable should be pronounced long, it is spelled with a double letter. Otherwise, pronounce it short. It is also notated for chanting. More on that later but first to the meaning. Here is the breakdown of each individual word.

Maitri = friendliness, loving-kindness

Karuna = compassion, great love

Mudito = sympathetic joy, gladness

Upekshanam = equanimity

Sukha = happiness, those who are happy

Duhkha = sorrow, those who are suffering

Punya = those who are virtuous

Apunya = those who are malevolent

Vishayanam = Objects, persons

Bhavanatah = feelings, attitudes

Chitta = mind

Prasadanam = purification

If you put this together you can arrive at a translation something like this:

Loving-kindness and friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the sorrowful, joy for others and equanimity, or being undisturbed by events and not being drawn into judgment or contempt are the four attitudes that will bring peace of mind.

This sutra is lovely when chanted, so much so that it becomes mesmerizing and it is as if the words and meaning are installing themselves in the heart.

So included here is a recording as an mp3 so you can learn to chant it too. There are just three notes. In the words of the sutra above, when there is a vertical line above the syllable, it goes up a tone, and when there is a line beneath a syllable, it goes down a tone.

Why not give it a try!

Maitri Karuna Mantra 1.33:

Here is a story…

Unlikely act of kindness……

My son traveled to India a few years back and during his time there he and some friends he had met on the way decided to go and ride some elephants. Of course, this can seem exciting and exotic but my son said he would prefer not to ride any of the elephants, he did not explain to them that he felt it inhumane and did not need to have this experience to satisfy his curiosity of being so near a beautiful being, one that he most probably would never have again.

His companions would not take no for an answer and they somehow talked him into believing that the weight of any human being would not be a burden and that these majestic animals were being well taken care of and the commerce they received was returned to the protection of these elephants.

My son did not buy this and still regretted his choice of going on this ride, but he did.

He climbed up upon the beautiful being and went out for a ride. It was a hot day and there were many flies around that seemed to be pestering this elephant for quite a while, he was not enjoying his time atop what appeared to be a tired and bothered being. He also felt great sadness for being part of the insulting manner and cruelty of her treatment and enslavement regardless of the excuses that someone may make of how they benefit.

While they continued to ride about he noticed that the rope that was around her neck seemed to have been there for so long that it had created a depression along her neck. He moved some of the rope aside and began to massage that area, he continued to do this along with some reiki until his hands became tired, thinking to himself that this small act of kindness was barely going to be felt and would not make a difference. So with tired hands and a regretful heart he stopped. Then, something very special happened, my son saw her trunk lift up over her head, and somehow she knew exactly where his hand was, she grabbed his hand with her snout and placed it back on the indentation that the rope had made and he realized she wanted him to continue with his massage. He was brought to tears realizing that she was in pain and discomfort and even this small act of kindness was felt and received and that she was asking this very small person that had paid for a ride on her back to continue to soothe her for the amount of time that was left on their ride.

My son will never forget this lesson, and although he may not ever take a ride on the back of an elephant or any other being, that a small act of kindness can make a difference not just for this elephant but for my son and for the continued lessons that have come from their experience.

This story of kindness was told in the hopes that you may understand that just a small effort from us, towards any human being that walks this planet, does not go by unnoticed, and we do not know who we can soothe with a small touch or even if what we do will or can make a difference. Not trying certainly will not further our existence, or begin to change our samskara’s, habits of behavior.

So this holiday season as people are flustering about from place to place purchasing things, preparing for travel and family visits as well as possibly dealing with the sadness of life and worries that come along with life itself…

Please remember this,

“Be kind in thought and in action, with yourself and others, be present and participate!”

Hari Om Tat Sat


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