Monday, August 16, 2010

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

Ever notice how the best intentions can sometimes lead to disastrous results? Especially when you think you know what's best for someone else?

Today was one of those days when I was slammed up against the usual irreconcilable differences with an important person in my life. I sat down to meditate on all of this. Knowing that I couldn't continue to approach this situation the same way.

I sat quietly. And I saw a little movie in my head. Replaying conversations in which I tried to help my friend with his problems in relating to others (specifically me). Wow. The curse of the verbal communicator. Watching all of this in my head, I saw that I didn't know when to stop. I was going to keep on talking until I had been heard and understood, but this meeting of the minds hadn't happened yet in more than two years of these exhausting discussions.

Words, even compassionate words, can be unwittingly violent. They can come across as one person acting as superior to another. Feelings can be hurt, and when this happens, communication can't take place. Could I change this dynamic by acting in line with yogic principles such as ahimsa (non-violence) and santosha (contentment with what is)?

A simplified description of the law of karma says that I receive what I give. In my disagreements with my friend I've been reaping and regifting these dubious rewards in an endless cycle -- not sometime in the distant future, but in real time.

I feel disrespected so I continually assert my position, unremittingly, only to feel greater resistance to my ideas, so I try again with greater force only to feel even higher and stronger walls resist me in return.

What to do? I decided to try the principles of ahimsa and santosha. Will they really work in a specific real-world situation?

Ahimsa: Let me be non-violent and peaceful in word and deed. Let me realize that I cannot say what is the best course of action for another person. Let me stop trying to force others to come to my view of a situation. Let me release my vise grip and create space for a natural resolution to occur. Let me remove the cork and allow my life to breathe like a precious bottle of wine.

Santosha: Let me be content with all situations the way they are today. Let me realize that I am not in control. Let me change focus from difficult situations which I cannot change to a focus on what is working well in my life right now. Let me orient my life toward beauty instead of pain.

Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
May all beings be happy.

1 comment:

  1. Just an update on this post:
    Isn't it surprising when you apply a yogic principle and it really works? Shouldn't be a surprise since, as yogis, we pay lip-service to and try to live these principles. But how often do we intensively apply them in a difficult situation?

    I found that ahimsa and santosha guided me to a breakthrough, an opening in the defensive wall where I could glimpse another's humanity even in the midst of what I perceived as inhuman treatment of me.

    I now have peace in my thoughts about this person, as well as sympathy and empathy for what is going on in his mind and in his feelings.

    When in a crisis situation, don't forget the yamas and niyamas and find one or more to apply to the situation. It works, and fast!