By Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
With so much to argue over, how can we go about peacefully co-existing with others? Yoga instructor training has always contained emphasis on ethical guidelines and methods for people to co-exist in harmony. Translations for the Yamas and Niyamas have not changed over time, but the basic guidelines are there to keep humankind in place. Have humans changed much over the past 2,000 years? How often do you hear the following statements? “Relationships are not what they used to be.” “Dating is different nowadays.” “Nobody wants to make a commitment any more.”
Consider these words, “Children nowadays are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” Does it sound like a 21st century problem? Guess who said those words? The answer is Socrates! In truth, people have not really changed much over that past 2,000 years. The birth place of Yoga is India, which was, and is, heavily populated with people. It is said that in ancient times, the soil of the Indus River Valley was rich and produced heavily.
Yet, you must realize that crowds of people who live in the cities tend to be stressed by the conditions of city life. Stress is not something new to humankind and Yoga is the best answer for a holistic approach to life and peacefully co-existing with others. Cities, all around the world, and in general, have stressed populations in comparison to the countryside.
Mohandas Gandhi once said, “Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.” His words are timeless and true, but what is the Yogic formula for peacefully co-existing with others? The following are some of Yoga’s solutions for peaceful co-existence between all people and all societies.
Rules: Since the beginning, humans have needed them. Every culture has them, because ethical guidelines for all, do establish mutual respect within families, organizations, schools, businesses, and governments. The Yamas and Niyamas do not conflict with any religion or government.
Communication: When you combine mutual respect with communication, you display loving kindness. This has always been in short supply. Karma Yoga training teaches you to give, but respect, courtesy, and showing appreciation to others, cost you nothing. All you have to invest is time and take action. The positive results of your efforts will come back thousands of times. Every time humankind has peace talks, a little progress is made.
Tolerance: Unfortunately, there has always been a shortage of tolerance and empathy. Human beings have made a habit of killing the Enlightened, the Prophets, and the Saints. Use your best judgment and listen to your heart. Except for self-defense – you know in your heart intolerance, and killing, for any reason, are morally wrong. Think upon this: If a leader tells you to oppress or kill the innocent, he or she is not a true leader. God does not discriminate, and God loves us, so why should we listen to anyone who tells us to commit crimes “In the Name of God?”
Forgive: Start with forgiving yourself first. This is a very big step, but forgive others next; otherwise, you will become a prisoner to hate – or worse. Grudges carry a lot of weight and they hold us back. Letting baggage go is a form of freedom. Negative experiences teach us what to avoid, At the very least, we can take a tough lesson and move on.
Affirmation, Prayer, Mantra or Japa: Talk to God, the Universe, or whatever you like, and you will not be disappointed. Open your heart and your mind during your spiritual time. Your kind actions, character, and behavior are more important than any affiliation. Since the beginning, ancient humans have struggled to define the creator of the universe. Thousands of years later, humankind is still struggling to define the creator of the universe. We have only our collective intelligence to define such power, so we are “handicapped.” Yet, all religions and Yoga, teach us to peacefully co-exist with others.
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