Through compassion you find that all human beings are just like you. -Dalai Lama
One of the greatest things I’ve found in San Francisco is the abundance of talent. The city is filled with brilliant and dedicated teachers, writers, researchers, artists: so many people who are able to convey beauty. Inspiring human beings abound here. There are also countless options for growth: a myriad of workshops, trainings, classes, in all areas of knowledge. Most of the time I feel supremely grateful for this abundance around me. At other times, I have experienced the flip side…
I’ve found myself feeling small and constricted when, from a limited attitude, compare myself to these amazing teachers, and people who make a difference in this world through their particular offering. I’ve had moments of “smallness” and despair, thinking, well, why should I even try, I will never be as good as that person. Before I knew it, I ended up in a desolate place, or as my teacher calls it, “the house of lacks”.
In Yoga, one of the primary goals is to cultivate and maintain serenity and purity of mind. The foundational texts of Yoga pinpoint one of the reasons the mind gets so agitated: the urge of wanting what others have. “I wish I was like that other person. Why is that person so happy and so good at what she/he does?” The mind’s downfall comes when it secretly craves others’ happiness, falling into a sense of despair because it doesn’t have what another does. It is deep-rooted problem of humanity. And I can say from personal experience, it is not a nice place to be.
Thankfully, the texts of Yoga also help us train the mind in a way that can look at, accept, and transform these tendencies and patterns for our own peace of mind and the greater good. These teachings are gold. And, they are a gift to humanity.
One example is a section of Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.33, which says: By cultivating friendliness towards happiness (…) gladness towards virtue (…), the mind becomes pure.
This is the great wisdom of yoga and many great religions and traditions. It is an amazing reminder of how we can raise the vibration of the world through our thoughts. It doesn’t really take a heroic and showy act. It just takes an inner switch, a change of perspective,, a “What if”? A new practice of appreciating the goodness of others.
Among many other ways to do this, I found for myself a few “ what if’s” to practice:
-What if every time we heard of a wonderful teacher (artist, architect, etc), we rose to the challenge of learning something great, expanded our understanding, and were happy that person was so great?
– What if when hearing of others’ good news: a promotion, a new job, the great comment they received, their awesome family it made us feel lighter and happier?
-What if another’s great talents and virtues inspired us to send them good wishes and develop those virtues in our own lives?
-What if somebody else’s good fortune made our hearts more vibrant?
– What if we learned to admire great qualities in others all the time?
– What if we opened Facebook and sent others good thoughts when they shared good news (and their latest vacation venue) online?
-What if we silently sent good wishes to strangers on the street?
What if , having cultivated this ability to be friendly toward happiness, we sent that same great energy and compassion to those who were not feeling so happy and needed more positive energy to feel better? What if we constantly, as a culture, developed more compassion?
And what if, in the process, our minds became serene and happy.
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”