On Contentment

Contrary to what many may think, Yoga does have rules. In fact Patanjali places the ten injunctions as the first two steps, before asana (postures) and pranayama (breath control). There are many ways to understand the first two steps known as yama (moral principels) and niyama (observances). That is not the subject of this discussion but I should mention that all practitioners (and especially teachers) of yoga should strive toward maintaining these ten rules. I would like to discuss the second niyama: santosha (contentment).

A yogi must be content, satisfied. We should first draw a difference between happiness and contentment. Happiness comes with unhappiness, two sides of the same coin. If we have great highs we will also suffer crushing lows, we can count on it. Contentment is stable and strong. It maintains equanimity in your life. We sacrifice the highs in order to save ourselves the terrible lows. Not an easy virtue to practice.

A good start is having a non-comparative/competitive view of our own lives. By nature humans compare themselves to others: “The grass is always greener”. If we are always looking at our neighbour’s lawn we will never enjoy, appreciate and be satisfied with our own lawn. We have the choice not to look or even better, not to compare it to our lawn. The truth is that in life there will always be someone younger, fitter, better looking, thinner, wealthier… than us, always. By constantly comparing ourselves we block our own chances of self-satisfaction. I leave you with one of Jesus’ parables found in the Gospel of Matthew (20:1-15) that speaks exactly to this point.

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There was a vineyard owner whose harvest was great. He sent his servant into the market place early in the morning to get extra labourers to work in the fields. He promised them each a denarius (a Roman silver coin) for the day’s work. Near midday, seeing that there still remained much work to do to, again the owner sent his servant to fetch more men to work in the vineyard. workers in the vineyardLate in the afternoon again the owner found much left undone, he sent his servant to the marketplace to get more labourers. At the close of the day all of the workmen gathered before the vineyard owner to receive their wages. The owner happily gave one denarius to each man. The men who had worked since early morning protested but the owner rebuked them. He told them to take their pay and go home. He had not been unfair as he had given them exactly as he had promised. The men’s unhappiness and dissatisfaction came not from the owner but from their checking the wages of the other men.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rissnicole
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 21:05:56

    Thank you for shining some light in a world that needs it!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: On Jealousy or “the Eagle & the Kite” | Sri Satchmo

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