Sutra 3.24: maitryadisu balani
By samyama on friendliness and such things, strengths are acquired. Translation by Edwin Bryant
By the practice of the threefold discipline on qualities like friendship, one becomes an embodiment of such qualities naturally, and thus one gains great moral, psychic and spiritual strength. Translation by Swami Venkatesananda
Did you know that if you make yourself smile, even if it’s “fake,” it will begin to change your mood, making you more inclined to feel like smiling without faking it?
Yup, happiness causes smiling, and smiling can increase happiness. Similarly, if you think positive thoughts, the world looks a little brighter. It doesn’t eradicate war and hardship, but it helps you put one foot in front of the other and live out a life that will be in service of whatever you believe in. You might not be able to turn every emotion upside down and inside out just through your facial expressions, but there’s an undeniable connection between what you do – even with just your face – and how you feel.
We have the power within us to be happy!
I realize that sounds suspiciously self-helpy. Generic advice that is actually quite challenging to carry out on one’s own.
But that’s the thing. You’re not supposed to do it alone. We didn’t evolve as solitary creatures — we need each other to learn, develop, grow, and continue. When we’re happy, we often feel the need to share it or do something with it. When we’re sad, we often need an outside person or push to cheer us up.
And in our yoga practice, we need what teaches us –teachers, incidents, insight, you name it– in order to discover our biological reality, discover that “self-help” can come from inside or outside of us and because our mind-body connection goes both ways, it doesn’t really matter which!
I think sutra 3.24 exists here, deep into book three, amidst the other mystical powers that arise from focusing one’s experiences of Yoga, because a fine-tuned utility of how you work and access to your self-help-ability takes practice.
Practice consists of time, focus, and a willingness to learn (where perhaps you think you “already know everything”). Practicing our yoga, practicing getting to know ourselves is not easy for us to do, or I imagine we’d all be pretty good at it. We need our teachers along the way to help us discover and discipline the strength that lets us change our reactive thoughts to conscious responses. Once we know our own power (rahrrr!), then the matter of cultivating friendliness towards anyone and everyone becomes accessible.
The next time someone you trust tells you how to “find happiness in 3 quick steps,” listen. Just scratch out the “quick” part from your brain, and remember that with steady and consistent practice, keen and focused effort, and a little or a LOT of help from whoever and whatever teaches you to be you, you’ll get there too.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts. Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.