HomeInspirationFour attitudes that will transform your life forever

Four attitudes that will transform your life forever

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Four attitudes that will transform your life forever

Everyone is looking for guidance to navigate the uncertainty and challenges that we collectively face in today’s world. Sometimes the source of such guidance has been right in front of us all along, and all we need is a simple reminder that the answers to our deepest problems are within our grasp.

DAAJI shares an ancient source with us, enlightening us on four simple attitudes that keep us safe in all storms.



In the 1st century BC, King Herod the Great built a palace in the Judaean desert near Jerusalem. A few years ago, scientists discovered 2000-year-old seeds at the ruins of the palace, and when they planted those seeds, seven date palms grew. During twenty centuries of excruciating desert climate, the life force within those seeds was preserved. There are some seeds that have survived even longer and are available to all of us, the ancient seeds of wisdom we find in the Yoga Sutras.

Thousands of years ago, the great spiritual scientist Patanjali taught his students about a way of life that could transform human existence. He showed them the path to infinity. Unfortunately, very little is known about who Patanjali was and what he did to achieve this knowledge. However, the 196 seeds of wisdom, the sutras he shared with his students, are with us today.

What is a sutra? It’s not a verse or hymn. Neither is it advice nor a mantra. A sutra is a coded word. Like a seed, it’s an open secret of nature that encapsulates immense wisdom and actionable guidance. One can spend an entire lifetime decoding and demystifying just one sutra. And here, Patanjali gave the world 196 of them! From his Yoga Sutras, I would like to share with you the transformative wisdom of one Sutra – number 33.

Why is Sutra 33 important? By cultivating the four attitudes recommended in this Sutra, we create an inner environment that calms the turbulence in our consciousness. By leading our lives by these attitudes, we cultivate correct thinking, right understanding, and an honest approach to our life. When such is the case, life is enlivened with authenticity.

Authenticity opens the doors to transformation. It gives us the capacity to accept more and more change. This change is no longer lukewarm and tepid. Instead, it’s a burning fire of transformation that creates the gleaming gold of a life well-led.

So here it goes, Sutra 33 from Patanjali for a transformative life:

Maitrī-karuṇā-mudito-pekṣāṇāṁsukha-dukkha-puṇyapuṇyaviṣayāṇāṁbhāvanātaḥcitta-prasādanam

“The right inner environment is created by cultivating these four attitudes:
friendliness toward the happy ones,
compassion toward victims of misery,
joy toward the virtuous,
and indifference toward the non-virtuous.”

To understand the wisdom of these four attitudes, let’s start with a contrarian approach:

Attitude 1: Friendliness toward the happy ones

What happens when your friend is happy? Imagine that your friend buys a dazzling silver Mercedes and invites you over for a party. Or another friend throws an early retirement bash thanks to a successful business sale. How do you feel? Are you happy for them? Are you also a bit envious: “Why them and not me?”

So your friend buys a new car and you are envious. The other friend makes money and your sleep is ruined. Because of social etiquette, you might not express these feelings openly, but they do cross your heart and sometimes they linger for some time.

Now, what happens when you are genuinely friendly toward those who are happy? What happens when you share in the joys of others? Try it and see for yourself. You will find that you genuinely partake in their happiness in some magical way. Your heart will expand, and you will grow as a human being. This is a matter of experience.




Authenticity opens the doors
to transformation.
It gives us the capacity to
accept more and more change.



When the attitude of friendliness toward the happy ones becomes permanent, you may not be wealthy, but the wealthy enjoy your company; you may not be powerful, but the powerful are there for you; you may not be an emperor, but the entourage supports you. Most importantly, even if none of this happens, the seeds of happiness sown in the heart blossom into a forest of contentment.

Attitude 2: Compassion toward victims of misery

When a co-worker shares their health issues related to diabetes and hypertension, how do you react? Externally you may share your sympathy, but inside do you judge their lifestyle? “Oh, he eats unhealthy food,” “She never exercises,” “All that smoking, what else can you expect?” When someone is miserable, do you judge, or does their pain prick your heart? Does your heart miss a beat and ooze with compassion seeing the misery of others? When you judge others, you will regret it afterward. In your quiet time, perhaps when you reflect at bedtime or write a journal, you will berate yourself, “Why did I do such a thing?” Your inner poise is gone.

People going through problems don’t need much in terms of help. They need someone to listen and acknowledge that what they are going through must feel terrible. Listening with compassion and acknowledging their misery gives people the strength to work on a solution.

We do this with children all the time. A little girl falls while running, and grandparents lift the child, caressing her and applying the first aid of love and attention. In a few moments, she is running again. We may have grown up physically, but our emotional needs are the same. Compassion, attention, and care go a long way to heal the hurt of misery. So be generous with your compassion. 

Attitude 3: Joy toward the virtuous

How do you react when you see virtue in action? When you see someone efface themselves with humility, do you think of it as noble behavior or do you see it as weak? When you see acts of generosity, do you appreciate them or look for an ulterior motive? There is a general tendency to regard virtue with suspicion. Why is this so? It’s because a suspicious nature deceives us into that there must be something darker lurking beneath.




The seeds of happiness
sown in the heart blossom
into a forest
of contentment.



When we express joy toward the virtuous, we create a vacuum that is devoid of suspicion, comparison, and competitiveness. Into such a heart, grace descends naturally. It’s like building a low-pressure area where clouds collect and pour down rain. Through such downpours of grace, we cultivate such virtues ourselves, even without our making efforts to do so. So celebrate the virtuous around you with a heart full of joy.

Attitude 4: Indifference toward the non-virtuous

Energy flows where attention goes. Patanjali’s prescription for cultivating indifference might sound like he is asking us to look the other way in the face of evil, but what he is urging us to do is not to spend time and energy focusing on the evil in a person’s behavior, because what you pay attention to will grow. If you are a soldier fighting an enemy, let duty be your driving force, not hatred for the enemy. Once the seeds of hate land in your heart they will keep growing long after the enemy is gone.



When we express joy toward
the virtuous, we create a vacuum
that is devoid of suspicion, comparison,
and competitiveness.
Into such a heart,
grace descends naturally.




It’s the same message Lord Jesus gave from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ”It’s the same message Lord Rama gave when Ravana was breathing his last; he sent Lakshmana to gather words of wisdom from the learned Ravana. In all these examples, we learn that in the battle of good versus evil, love versus hate, right versus wrong, we do not become virtuous by condemning the other to judgment. Instead, we grow by nurturing goodness in the heart.

These attitudes have inspired me personally to act and transform. A simple way to start implementing them is to pick one. Then, before going to bed, offer a prayer, seeking help, guidance, and strength to implement that attitude in life. Do this for a few days, and please let me know about your experience.



Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL



Daaji

Daaji

Kamlesh Patel is known to many as Daaji. He is the Heartfulness Guide in a tradition of Yoga meditation that is over 100 years old, overseeing 14,000 certified Heartfulness trainers and many volunteers in over 130 countries. He is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the fields of spirituality and science, blending the... Read more

18 COMMENTS

  1. I love to read such profound advice, but it is very difficult to implement. Tell me how one can forgive a murderer or a rapist with compassion?
    What should be my reaction to the victims and relatives? Such things makes me very sad and depressed.

    • It is hard in these cases, but Heartfulness practices are the key to raise oneself and come out the other side of pain. It may take time, but time is what is needed to find peace. In such a situation, compassion for the victim or any help that one can provide helps. Not judging the victim goes a long way to building her/him up. Also, law takes its course, but for the aggressor developing “Indifference to the non virtuous” applies here. Pray for people, and do not focus on evil or it will grow.

    • Dear Avinash Radhakusan Sorty,
      Maybe it is not their action but your reaction that is making you very sad and depressed. If a food makes you sick, you quit eating it. Instead, start praying for them. They have probably not had the same life as you.

  2. Such a profound message put in a simple and humble way. Inspires us to practice it and make it a way of living.

  3. I found this article so inspirational and even took some notes, it is a simple four part practice that addresses so many situations and challenges that we may face in relationship to others. I’ve shared it with several of my friends!

  4. To start with to practice all the four might seem difficult, but I will make a beginning, starting with developing one attitude which will certainly lead to the other three attitudes. Well begun is half done.

  5. Yes, we have to cultivate these so that we develop more humility and generosity. Gratitude.

  6. When I practice, the god in me greets the god in you. The result is to respond correctly.

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