Another area where we need discrimination is in the stories we encourage and pass on. If we spend time with gossips, it’s easy to fall into the trap ourselves. I remember taking a step back and re-evaluating some of the joke emails I used to send along. There can be a fine line between humour and attack, between making light of something and putting it down.
Some areas of the internet have become quite nasty, people feeling they can and should say whatever they want. But it’s a mistake to think there are no consequences.
You see that same habit carry forward into spiritual circles, spreading rumours about other students or the teacher or seeing it as appropriate to attack everyone who sees things differently than you.
If we feel badly about ourselves, we may feel some satisfaction in putting others down or “in their place” or seeing others do this. The media is full of this kind of behaviour. Many don’t realize the harm they do others – and themselves – this way. I’ve seen disgruntled former students carry on about it for decades after their falling out. Who does it help to carry your pain past it’s due date?
There are several kinds of problems we create for ourselves by using charged communication.
One of the motivators for gossip is envy and covetousness. Rather than seeking what we want, we desire to take it from others. This leads to forms of “inner” theft that ironically robs us of opportunity and abundance in our own life. This can be surprisingly subtle – if you find yourself comparing yourself to others, what is the feeling with that? Is to have what they have? Or to lift yourself up to be their equal?
Similarly, this can draw us into attachment to what is not ours, holding away our own good.
When we twist the truth to manipulate and control others or the story we tell, we break our connection to truth and understanding. We also have to get more serious about our story so we can keep track of the fabrications we’re telling. Those little white lies can add up. Soon enough we gain a sham weight, a burden to carry.
Telling the “sweet” truth to avoid being harsh is one thing. But distorting or telling outright falsehoods creates exactly that – others will not speak the truth when we don’t and we become surrounded by a world of everyone’s lies, of masks and props. What does that do for wisdom and clarity? For finding our purpose?
Yoga also observes that when truthfulness is established, the fruit of our actions comes quickly. In other words – we get faster results.
The word is mightier than the sword. When we use words to attack or harm others, we invite the same for ourselves. Like attracts like.
What we stand against is a subtle form of violence that makes the enemy stronger. What instead do we stand for? Is it not better to avert danger and eliminate enemies as Yoga prescribes? Only pro-peace will lead to peace. Anti-war is just another battle.
This list may also remind you of the Ten Commandments. They are of the 5 Yamas or observances of Yoga. The 5th is Moderation.
Never underestimate the power of your own attention in creating the life you’re living. All of the above reduce our own quality of life and hamper our own happiness and success. Yet we’ve been told the solutions since we were born.
When you make changes to old habits, they can take time to shift. And the momentum of your life may take time to turn. But the effort will bring rewards in spades.
Just remember the golden rule – treat others as you wish to be treated.