Four Keys to Peace from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.33
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is a collection of 196 aphorisms, divided into four chapters, that act as a guide on the spiritual journey. It was compiled in the early centuries CE by the Indian sage Patanjali, who synthesised and organised the ancient knowledge of Yoga.
The four chapters discuss the aims and practice of yoga, the development of yogic powers, and finally Liberation. Here we will look at sutra 1.33, which gives us four essential keys to peace of mind.
Whether on a yogic path or not, we all want to have a peaceful mind. Sutra 1.33 brings to light some of the key things that cause stress and anxiety in the mind, and gives us four essential tools to help us remain peaceful.
maitri karuna muditopeksanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam
”By cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, delight in the virtuous, and neutrality towards those who you perceive to be wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
In this sutra, Patanjali tells us that there are four locks and four keys in the world. Each lock is a human behaviour that can trigger a whirlwind in the mind, and each key is a way to neutralise that whirlwind.
The First Lock & Key
The first lock is friendliness and ease, and the key lies in meeting that friendliness with loving-kindness. Seems simple enough? If a stranger smiles at you in the street, you smile back at them, and harmony is cultivated. But what if it triggers a sense of comparison? You start questioning why they are so happy? And what may be wrong with your life as you are not walking around with a smile? Then the smiling stranger can create agitation in your mind. However, if you trust Patanjali’s suggestions and simply smile back at them without getting stuck in thoughts, your body receives a signal of happiness and your mind becomes calm.
The Second Lock & Key
The second lock is unhappiness or unease, and the key is found in cultivating compassion towards those who are experiencing that sadness. When someone is upset, comfort them. If they need space, let them know you are there for them when they are ready. Try to put yourself in their shoes; most of us have experienced sadness or unease at some point. Know that you don’t have to change or fix anything, let them be vulnerable and just be there for them. This will help you retain a peaceful mind.
The Third Lock & Key
The third lock/key is delight in those who are virtuous. This is simple enough when it comes to your heroes in life; but more challenging when it is closer to home. If you and a friend decide to commit to a 40-day yoga practice, and your friend sticks to it while you don’t; can you show delight towards your friend? A common response to this type of situation is to attack yourself as a looser and your friend as a show-off. Instead of letting your mind be disturbed by jealousy, imagine that your True Nature, that is One with everything and everyone, delights in your friends ability to stick to their commitment. A win for One is a win for All.
The Fourth Lock & Key
The fourth lock/key is equanimity towards those we perceive as being non-virtuous. This one always causes the most discussions in the YTT classroom. When we see someone doing something mean or hurtful, should we just look the other way? In a word, no. But does that mean we should get all up in arms, mind boiling with anger, ready to start a war? No, this is not a productive state of being, and it will not produce the most effective result. If we see someone causing harm, ideally, we speak up while maintaining a calmness of mind. This is a challenging key to find, but it is there and by using it, great changes can arise!
We Love Yoga Philosophy!
During your Yandara YTT, we explore inspiring Yoga Philosophy every day, at both the 200hr and the 300hr level. Enjoy this short video below where Yandara founder and lead trainer, Christopher Perkins, takes you through a short journey from inner Argument to inner Acceptance.
Nicolina Sandstedt, Yandara Lead Trainer