622 – Gifts from Yoga

The list is unending of the gifts which I have received from the practice of Yoga. They are too many to enumerate. I will start with the first one. Compassion and empathy. These are words freely used by us and how many of us understand the meaning. I also found them difficult to understand. I imagined being sympathetic was enough and then after maybe shedding a tear or saying, ‘you poor thing’ forgetting about the person and the issue.

Question yourself, how often has it happened to you. Swamiji said that when one saw a person in distress and if one could not do anything about it, at least feel empathy for that individual. This came up in one of his Satsangs, when he was asked what one should do, if someone was begging.

Sometimes one comes across people who are full of rage, or they are being influenced by karma. We were in Vietnam and were walking on the street, when a bunch of boys came running towards us. They must have been nine or ten, tough little fellows and I was admiring them, when they hurled themselves at my husband. He had the presence of mind to step aside. I have no comments on the subject, but I did not hear a single bird singing while we were there.

Another time a friend of mine gave a child a packet of chips at a crossing in Delhi. The child took the chips, stepped on them, made a face and left. When I was working at a hospital in my earlier life, I used to carry my lunch. It consisted of chapati rolls. The roll had a dry vegetable in it. I used to give my lunch sometimes to persons begging, on my way to work as I would be driving. Some people, especially women were very happy with what I gave them. Well, I saw a very thin man begging, so I gave him my lunch. He took it, smelt it and fed it to a cow. Then he looked at me and said that why would he eat cold food. I laughed as all my friends loved eating my cold lunch.

Now I come to the joyous part of my experiences, I would see a lot of hungry kids begging. I kept biscuits in my car, and I would give them the biscuits. Sometimes I kept fruit or bread. Well, this led to my working with children and dissuading them from begging. I started TORCH, which enables children to cope with their lives and protect themselves from sexual abuse. The main objective is to teach them a routine and give them affection. This works with their core, and this enables them to be creative and interested in life.

Compassion is what we all have within us. It is inexhaustible and one never gets depleted of it. The more one gives, the more one receives. It is incredible as how it affects one. We see the universe with rose tinted glasses. We remain optimistic and are able to live with ourselves and with others in harmony.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (1:33) it is written that in relation to happiness, misery, virtue, and vice by cultivating the attitudes of friendliness, compassion, gladness and indifference respectively, the mind becomes purified and peaceful. If we examine what is written, we will observe four traits, friendliness, recognition of misery, joy on seeing a virtuous person, ignoring the wicked.

We are all drawn to a friendly person. “Laugh and the world laughs with you: Weep and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth but has trouble enough of its own. “Ella Wilcox Wheeler. If we see an angry person, we walk away because we do not wish to be entangled with him/her.

When we see a sad person, one should recognize that the individual is in distress. We must be empathetic and compassionate. Sympathy is lip service. We must learn to practice karuna (mercy) which means enabling the person to work through the issue. Compassion is also a part of karuna.

When we see a spiritual person, we must learn to appreciate this quality. When people went to see Swami Sivananda, they came back with their heart full of love and joy. They would feel transformed. I remember I met a sannyasin from the Ashram and she was Swamiji’s right hand. I organized lectures for her and when the audience heard her, their response was that she was so pure and simple. When people come to an Ashram and meet the Guru, this is what they experience. It is a sense of being full of piety after an interaction.

When Swami Satyananda would speak, the audience would be in a trance, after he had finished speaking. Another time Swami Niranjananda had come to give a lecture in Delhi and the gentleman who introduced him talked and talked about himself and his contribution to society. The audience became restive and started clapping. They had come to listen to Swami Niranjana. He sat in padmasana, absolutely still, with his hands folded. Finally, Swami Niranjana spoke, he folded his hands and said Hari Om, and Namaste. The audience stood up and clapped for twenty minutes. We all felt blessed.

Lastly ignore evil. Stay away from a scorpion. Strengthen your spirituality and keep your balance. Reform yourself.

Aim Hrim Klim

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