Here is a reference list as to how to self reflect on the yamas and niyamas. For most of the adults we are in contact with, the nonadhereance is going to be subtle. Each yama and niyama is listed with short hints on how they things such as stealing apply to people who would never break into a store and rob them.
The last perspective on the Yamas is, a reference list. Something we can look at periodically. If we are an adult, we can look at it in the spirit of self-reflection, self-examination to see how well we are doing in these areas, because it touches all the basic areas in which we might not do well. It is very comprehensive.
It is a reference list also for parents in raising children, to see if children are doing well or poorly in each of these areas, to give some thought in areas in which they are doing poorly and try to figure out a way to help them improve. Sometimes, the improvement needs to be on your side, not just on theirs. For example, the tendency to not be truthful comes up in a home that is threatening to the child. So you cannot expect a child to be truthful all the time, if the child is fearful of the consequences of telling the truth. So, sometimes parents have to adjust on their side if they want the child to conform. Otherwise, no way. It won't happen.
So, looking at each of the ten in this way, as a reference for self-examination. For adults, it is the subtle non-adherence to the principle that comes up. At least, all the adults we are dealing with. We are not dealing with someone who ends up in jail for shooting somebody or going around beating up all the neighbors. Those kinds of individuals are not associating with us. I mean, they are out there but they are not coming forward to us. The individuals coming forward to us are more refined. Therefore, if there is non-adherence to one of these principles, it is in a more subtle way. So, we have to look for the subtlety of the principle when it comes to an adult. For children it is more obvious. Two children, one is hitting the other, we know that is not ahimsa.
Ahimsa: Non-injury, not harming others by thought, word or deed. Of course, it is not the deed that is the problem. It is usually the word. Yet, we harm others with thoughtless words, insensitive words, teasing, joking, back-biting, gossiping. All of those areas are the most common ways in which we do not adhere to ahimsa and we can improve in.
Satya: Truthfulness, refraining from lying and betraying of promises. Here, sometimes we don't live up to our word, we betray a promise. We tell somebody we are going to do something. Either we are not sincere or we just don't bother to follow through. That, of course, causes the hard feeling to arise.
Asteya:The state of non-stealing, neither stealing nor coveting or entering into debt. The most common problem here is the handling of debt. Buying something on debt and not meeting the terms that are expected. Buying something that you are supposed to pay for in thirty days but we don't pay for in for one hundred and twenty days. That is an abuse of debt, a subtle form of stealing, borrowing the other person's money, without his permission is a subtle form of stealing.
Brahmacharya: Divine conduct, controlling lust by remaining celibate when single leading to faithfulness in marriage. Of course here it is just a case of impure thoughts. We let our thoughts dwell in areas we should not. So that is a common transgression there.
Kshama: Patience, restraining intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. I noticed a small correlation with impatience and the amount of coffee you have in the morning. Has anyone else noticed that correlation? If you restrain your coffee intake, your espresso intake, you seem to have more patience with circumstance. So I think here, it is a question of being reflective, being observant and being willing to admit when you are showing impatience. Sometimes, in just the pressures of life or trying to get things done, you are not really sensitive enough to being to impatient with someone. It is really not the proper thing to do.
Dhriti: Steadfastness, overcoming non-perserverence, fear, indecision, inconstancy, changeableness. That relates to our changing our mind about our plans. We plan to do this and then six months later we change our plan and then six months later we change our plan. We are not holding a constant plan regarding our life, our domestic life, our careers, schooling, our plans for marriage. Whatever it is, we keep changing our mind every six months or so and we are not holding to our plans. That is not good. It is better to spend time thinking about it in a very through way, develop a plan and stick to it.
Daya: Compassion, conquer callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. That is a matter of not taking the time to feel how the other person feels after we act. We take the time and see how this verbal interaction, how this telephone discussion, how this e-mail, how did it make the other person feel. Gurudeva once had a sign up in the Monastery. I forget it exactly, but it is something like - You start with the birds and the animals and plants and work your way up in terms of being compassionate. It is a nice tradition in the West where children have pets, not as common in the East. But it is a way of children learning how to take care of an animal. Be sensitive to its feelings, not forget to feed it and so forth.
Arjava: Honesty, straight forwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing. Sometimes we fudge on the small things. Take a tax deduction we really should not, things like that. So it is a matter of just how something feels. If it does not quite feel right, then maybe it is not in accord with this. We might be able to get away with it.
Mitahara: Moderate appetite, neither eating to much nor consuming meat, fish, fowl, or eggs. Of course, restraining our appetite is a major key to controlling the instinctive mind. If we are constantly eating between meals or eating way, way too many sweets, this or that, whatever we are doing is a way of satisfying our emotions, then it is lessening our control of our entire instinctive minds. So the more we can moderate our appetite then the whole instinctive mind responds accordingly.
Saucha: Purity, avoiding impurity in body, mind and speech. Impurity even relates to the house. It doesn't mention it here but if the house is not really clean, it influences our state of mind. If there is a lot of dust in the corners and so forth, it affects us. Of course, keeping the clothes clean is important and all. I would say that we all do very well in that one. It is good to tighten up and now and then. Once a month we go all around, spend a whole day cleaning the monastery, just to make sure things are clean. Give it some extra energy. Likewise in the household home, you could do the same thing. One day of the month, the whole family cleans the place, make sure everything is nice and clean. It is uplifting and gets rid of the astral influences that accumulate and influence our state of mind.
Those are some thoughts on yamas, nice overview. We can move forward into specific yamas in the future talks. A reminder that maybe one of the most charming parts of 'Living with Siva' are the Chapters on the Yamas and Niyamas. Gurudeva was very inspired when he wrote them. It provides an in-depth look at each of them that you don't find anywhere else. Plus Gurudeva's insightful combinations of the Yamas and Niyamas, different ones work with each other. It is truly unique. It is really a great resource for reflection or just research for working with children. You could give it some thought. Some good teacher's reference manual, the Yamas and Niyamas for teaching one's older children or grandchildren.
In Malaysia, they are teaching them as part of their seminar. I think they have three one-day seminar programs. So they chose three Yamas to present as part of that teaching to the youth. So 'Living with Siva' is a good reference for them to use with the parenting material.
Aum Namah Sivaya!