Sutra I-33 contains four directions for achieving tranquility of mind, through our ways of being in relationship with other people. In this Sutra, which has the same content as the Buddhist teachings called the Brahmaviharas, or the Four Immeasurables, we are called to be happy as we witness happiness, or even joy, in another individual. As we know, this can present us with challenging moments.

At least most of us would hope we could meet the good fortune of those in our midst with joy that would NATURALLY emerge, especially as we witness the good things happening in the lives of those with whom we feel closest. But this teaching is present in the Yoga Sutras because joy upon hearing of someone else’s happiness is not always what simply arises for us. We may surprisingly, somewhere in ourselves, register a lack within, or in our current situation that causes us to feel envy or jealousy when good fortune appears for another.

It is essential that we not turn on ourselves in these moments, but instead notice uncomfortable feelings and let them guide us towards greater self understanding through compassionate curiosity about a particular response.

I believe that The Sutras invite this psychological and emotional exploration geared towards one dimension of self study, but there is simultaneously a sense of letting our practice itself carry us closer and closer towards a spontaneous ease and joy in relation to the happiness of another person. When we have ease and acceptance in who we are and how our lives unfold, when we are content and recognize in ourselves interconnection and peace, we will be more able to be present for others compassionately in their pain, and in meeting them in their joy and abundance.

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