Guiding Light by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Rules of life

There are certain rules that we need to follow in life for growth. They are called yama and niyama.

The first is ahimsa or non-violence. Non-violence unites you with the whole creation. A practice of yoga, of realising that everything is here and everything is part of you is ahimsa. When everything belongs to you, how can you harm something?

The next is astheya — not missing what you don’t have at this moment. Totally accepting what is and not regretting is astheya. It’s about not comparing yourself with the others and not wishing for what they have that you don’t have.

Then comes brahmacharya, which means moving beyond small identifications. Brahma means big, moving in the bigger aspect of consciousness. Not being interested in shapes and forms of the body and seeing the infinite is brahmacharya.

The fourth is aparigraha— not taking what people give you. You often take much more insults than complements that people give you. Sometimes they are not even giving you. They are just taking out of their pockets. But you go and grab them and keep those negative remarks safe with you! Aparigraha is not taking anything from anybody, including insults.

There are also some rules that ensure peaceful living in society, in the environment. And then there are five rules for your inner development. The first one is cleanliness or shaucha — keeping yourself clean and wearing clean clothes. But what is more important is being clean from inside. If you are clean from inside, your mind is clean, free.

The next rule is santosha or contentment. Be happy. If you don’t take a step towards being happy, nothing in this world can make you happy. The third is forbearance or tapa. Tapa means putting up willingly with something that is uncomfortable and accepting the opposites. The rule is that change whatever you can, but when you cannot change, accept it. Whatever you can’t change, accept as tapas.

Then comes self-study of swadhyaya. Observe your mind and see what is going on in your mind. If you are feeling bad, just observe and you will start feeling good again.

The last rule is ishwara pranidhaana — love of the Divine. Surrender to the Divine when you feel you are totally helpless and offer your feelings. These rules make you very strong, whole and complete. To be established in these rules, you need some spiritual practices, breathing exercises. Do some meditation, sadhana (spiritual practices) and service and keep your smile intact!

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