5 Attitudes for Excellence

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Contrary to what we imagine, the simple attitudes we were taught as children are also some of the deepest truths of spiritual living. Patanjali Yoga Sutras, that most profound treatise on spiritual discipline, outlines five simple attitudes that can help us gather our scattered energies and build a character of invincible moral integrity.  

1) SATYA - Live by the Truth Speaking the facts is just one dimension of truth. Real satya is aligning our thoughts, speech and action to the truth. The moment you decide to that you are going to express your thoughts and feelings without editing them, you are forced to purify your very thinking! The continuous practice of living by the truth can have a powerful impact on your subconscious. You are released from the burden of pretension and duplicity that have become part of our daily living. Satya gives you the unimaginable freedom to really be yourself.

2) AHIMSA - Don’t hurt anybody Non-violence is not a moral code. It is the only practical way to live! Because violence is a double-edged sword. Only a person who is deeply violent person towards himself can treat another with violence. After all, you can throw out only whatever you are filled with! The mind is not intelligent enough to create violence externally, while remaining untouched internally. If we could be a little gentler on ourselves, less judgmental, more forgiving of our own flaws, we will spontaneously do the same with others. Live and let live - because only if we learn to let live can we live at all.

3) ASTEYA – Do not covet Unbelievable but true - this single understanding is powerful enough to liberate us from the karma cycle. Karma is nothing but the pressure of our unfulfilled desires, forcing us again and again into action. We always carry the energy and resources to fulfil our own true desires, but when we accumulate desires from others, we create a ‘desire hangover’ that is going to take us another lifetime to fulfil – and so it continues. Asteya is nothing but becoming aware of what our true needs, and focusing our energies on fulfilling those desires. You don’t have to renounce whatever you have. Just renounce what you don’t have – that’s enough!

4) APARIGRAHA – Live simply To live in aparigraha is to strip your life down to its essentials . At the material level, the secret of optimized living is to use your resources efficiently, so that you achieve maximum results with minimum expenditure. When you live with minimal resources, you automatically learn to operate at peak performance. At the mental level, aparigraha is the courage to live with minimum beliefs or preconceptions. Only the courageous can live without beliefs, because it means that you will have to contact life every moment as it happens. At the spiritual level, aparigraha means living with no other support than the Divine. Obviously, this does not mean you will give up your job or your family. Aparigraha only means that you will live life with simplicity, discipline and tremendous internal freedom.

5) BRAHMACHARYA- Live like God! OK, maybe this was something you weren’t taught at school! To live like God is to live your ultimate possibility. Brahmacharya is sometimes translated as celibacy, but celibacy is too poor a word to explain brahmacharya. Celibacy is just a choice that becomes available when you live in brahmacharya. When you continuously strive to live life at your ultimate possibility, all that is superfluous simply falls away. That is why aparigraha is the first step to brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is to live with such a vast, fulfilled inner space that nothing at all is needed from the outside to complete you. Brahmacharya is not a vow or a discipline, it is a luxury that only very few can afford. When you no longer need anything from the other, or from the world, naturally you become a giver. Real giving can only happen as an overflowing of our own fulfillment. Tirelessly creating, constantly expanding, continuously showering on others – this is brahmacharya, living like God.