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A World of Yoga
The Big Test
Unless you make an effort to be more conscious, your companions will probably dominate your will power and freedom of choice. You will usually be happy or sad, loving or angry, based on the strongly-held sentiments of your family, business colleagues, or closest friends. What a strange way to live! So many people forfeit the opportunities which come their way each day; they don't allow themselves the understanding that brings a greatly enriched life. They merely react to their companions much like puppets, with straw brains, dangling from strings.
Companionship is especially powerful in influencing moods and attitudes. Generally, a few optimists make the others in their group or family more optimistic. The optimists have a subtle influence, so others become keen to accomplish and achieve success. Friends and families gradually grow more willing to create a happy life experience. On the other hand, pessimism commonly shared becomes like a disease and each member of the group goes out into life every morning to seek evidence that his/her pessimism is wellfounded and perfectly justified. Other shared moods, from exasperation to ecstasy, pervade the groups of closely involved people.
Beware of Prejudice
Hopefully the mood of each new seeker of higher consciousness will be developed into a happy, constructive well being which is strong enough to easily shed destructive moods of others.
Your companions very likely dominate, or at least greatly influence, your attitudes, too. The attitude of prejudice, for example, is still a major factor between neighbors and countries around the world. Some groups form because of a shared prejudice. Many times, for no direct reason, a member of a prejudiced group will find himself hating someone he doesn't even know, or trying to block the career of a person he has never met.
The attitude of prejudice works two ways, of course. People in other groups are likely prejudiced against any such group in which you may find yourself. Self-righteous attitudes boomerang almost every time, often resulting in concussions and the letting of blood on the streets. Who knows how much these blind attitudes cost in lost opportunities, economic security, and peace of mind? (Not to mention the harm group prejudice wreaks on world peace and loving practice of the world's religions.)
What To Do?
Ideally, as you become more conscious, you'll refuse to let the attitudes of others dominate your own thoughts and feelings. As you become more conscious you'll break free of the prejudices and unfounded views of others. Becoming free to think, to find out, and sincerely feel are important qualifications for superconsciousness.
You will need to be able to stay calm despite your companions' storms. Sympathize with your friends, of course. Strive to clarify the issues which bother them so intensely. Then help your companions to let go of their frenzy or take positive action toward a change in the trouble. As you develop, influence of your group's destructive attitudes — prejudice, futility, chauvinism, etc. — will progressively diminish.
A Critical Group
Not long ago a group of young men and women became friends during the exciting beginnings of their individual quests for higher awareness. They enjoyed fellowship with one another very much and their heads swam delightedly in the new possibilities dawning in their lives.
Months passed. Some of the group began to be critical and unappreciative of their leaders and teachers who seemed to be much too calm and unexcited about the realities the young men and women were learning. The students took the apparent lack of enthusiasm on the part of their teachers and leaders to be a lack of vision. Several students in the group became very sarcastic and skeptical of their leaders' qualifications.
However, a few remained particularly appreciative and delighted with the quest. They also appreciated the maturity and great depth of knowledge they found in their teachers and leaders.
Camps of "We" and "They"
As time passed, the regular gatherings of the students degenerated into negative conversations in which many of the group intensely, or jeeringly, verbalized criticisms against their teachers. A number who had been on "The Path" only for a few months implied their personal enlightenment was already far superior to what they beheld in these "so-called" teachers and adepts.
The meetings of the students began to be unpleasant. Camps of "we" and "they" began to break the once-happy fellowship into pieces.
On the night of the third explosive meeting, a number of students said, "These get-togethers are no longer pleasant or productive. We won't be back next week."
Arguments and denunciations flashed into the stormy atmosphere. Loyalties to the ideals of the Path were questioned. Some students stood accused of ignoring their consciences.
As offense and defense clashed, one aspirant who had been a seeker longer than the others, reached into his chest pocket for a small wallet which contained some pressed rose petals. The rose petals symbolized the vow of love he'd made during his initiation into specific techniques for attaining higher consciousness. He clutched the little wallet with intensity. His fingers turned white from the pressure of his grip. He smiled and gazed at each person in the group with concern and love. Unlike some of the persuasive critics, he was not an extroverted talker. He took a deep breath and spoke up. He had to repeat the name of the main dissenter several times to get his attention. When all the students turned to him in surprise, he smiled at them and said, "Well, we've talked about the faults of others. Now let us talk about our faults."
Holding his rose petals he confessed a big inadequacy he found in his own character. Others slowly joined in, sincerely opening their hearts. Eventually, the main denouncer capitulated and was able to think up a few faults that he might have too.
The Killer of Young Devotees
While it would be pleasing to report this young man's devotion to his ideal ultimately saved the group, welding it into a harmonious gathering again, the super-verbal ones actually left the group after several weeks and the more humble ones became strong friends.
Yes, companionship can steal your mind away. It can make you insensitive to love and your potential. But, on the other hand, companionship can flower and blossom into lifelong friendships and much mutual accomplishment.
Enough said about the killer of young devotees: negative companionship which so strongly influences your moods, attitudes, actions, and your future. For the sake of your aspirations and your happiness in life, seek constructive companions. Be alert when associating with negative or self-destructive people; don't let them bowl you over mentally or emotionally.
Companions are not always people.
There is subtle companionship too. When you sit alone, there is quite a conversation going on, isn't there? Your thoughts and feelings are your companions too; and they are also, usually, stronger than will power. If your thoughts are happy, uplifting, you will be influenced to a happier, more beneficial life.
Similarly with your emotions. If your feelings are pleasant or joyous, your sense of well being will be exhilarating and resilient. Companionship with fear or anger, however, will often make you feel less capable and sap your motivation for fulfillment. Negative moods like jealousy, fear, or anger can easily dominate your will and your outlook on life, too.
A sad heart can color all your activities with a sense of futility and limitation. Likely your mood of sorrow will pervade your activities and conversations with people until you're known as an unpleasant person to be with. Further, when you're alone, you don't enjoy being with yourself either.
Let Them Pass
Even if your negative thoughts and feelings have a valid reason to fill your awareness at times (for example, the insult of a loved one or betrayal by a trusted friend), let them pass. Let bad thoughts and feelings stay but a brief time. Then, send them away. Don't let your occasional destructive thoughts and feelings become your companions. Ever!
Your thoughts and feelings are your subtle companions. Choose them wisely
and you will create a productive, deeply satisfying life.