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Befriend Yourself

The bronco in the mire -
Guts may not help to get free.


Hemmed in? There are at least three wise ways we may learn to in order to be our own friends. (1) How to meditate deeply is a lot. ◦TM is a good and sane way, attestedly. (2) How to breathe tolerably well; (3) ◦Reduce and get rid of main stressors as you can, for continued stress is a major killer nowadays (cf. Shrand 2012).

Getting well established by a decent education and ancestors' ways may be good too - a fit selection of assets of some dominant ancestors, that is. It is also good to learn good from bad and not be taken in.

To be your own friend, restrain ill speech and go for beneficial speech. See what else Buddha says about what friends do, and the core teachings of Sanatan Dharma in main matters, and do to yourself what a good friend would do to you. Buddha indicates that to be your own friend,

  1. Manage well and keep in balance, seek good counsel from good and competent people, and sympathise with yourself.
  2. Also, learn how to guard and shield yourself and your kin, plan ahead for dangers and get good supplies for possible crises.
  3. Avoid washing your dirty linen in secret. Prepare against it well in advance, adjusting to Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, someone will sooner or later see to it." There are variants of the Law. Try not to give up in misfortune. Avoid sacrificing yourself in any way. Compare Apannaka Sutta and what Buddha shows of the best folks there.
  4. Don't do evil; encourage good acts; get duly informed and go wisely for getting success here and treading the path to heaven -
  5. Rejoice in your rightly had prosperity. Do not speak ill of yourself, speak well instead.

We could learn learn to cherish ourselves as devotedly as does a mother her own child, and unfold accordingly.

Sanatan Dharma Aces

In Sanatan Dharma, there are four all-round life ideals called artha, wealth; kama, pleasures; dharma, righteousness; and moksha, liberation. We can be geared to these four main life goals in a twofold way: (1) Going for them as fits; (2) Not hindering anyone in attaining them. Ideas help some of us to adjusts to

  • Artha - fitly and not unjustly gained wealth;
  • Kama - proper, non-malignant pleasures;
  • Dharma - eternal and righteous law and justice. It may be conscience-attuned.
  • Moksha - great freedom.

Each of them may be had by degrees. A balanced fare may help us much to it.

Unsuitable ideas. Bad ideas work against these four pointers. Main ideas back up the life goals with fit timing, sequencing or order into the scheme too.

Grossly said, ideas that serve to hinder our getting solvent, our fine pleasures, hamper or hinder righteousness, and keep us from better freedom degrees, are not really helpful to us, but hampering. Get rid of them as well as you can. Ideas that undermine our all right and naive confidence, could be of the same ilk.

Good and friendly ideas. On the other hand, ideas (and friends and relatives) that assist us through ups and downs stand out as good friends. They serve solvency, or usher it in, they make our thinking abler, more robust, and make our acts abler. They lead into fine pleasures, They make us well informed about what is considered generally right and proper things to do in a society, and assist on the path toward more or better freedom - Besides, there is inner freedom, mental, and outer freedom, to name some.

It is easy to make a check-list of the points, and tick off. The end results may be better if you weigh these points and get a sum of scores by such means too.

Build for a fit life (Artha) and keep to fine pleasures (Kama) throughout life also, without feeling bad about it (stick to Dharma), or go for great freedom (Moksha) first, if you are genuinely drawn that way. People are different. To be and keep being a good friend to yourself:

  • Get solvent, fine pleasures, stay as proper and righteous as you can, keep or get the fit confidence you are up to.
  • Get skills for being solvent also - to delve deep in meditation fairly often depends on skills too. Skilful trade (bartering) leaves both parties satisfied, and so further.
  • Get more freedom, including enough elbow room. Consider there is inner freedom, mental, and outer freedom and degrees of freedom also.

Follow up on some what's

After what's, how's are next. A society may not help its citizens much in developing as artists in the art of living from inside out, from one's depths, but seeks to manage people by jobs, general living conditions and perhaps debts. It applies to learning too. Either you learn out of interests, or you learn because it is your "job". To harmonise those to main avenues is a challenge. Statistics show that many do not succeed well in public schools.

Now, friends also favour freedom - check the friends fairly and well, accordingly. Fenced in and stuck in some way - you should have mustered more of what helped against being caught, limited, and stuck in the first place, more of what gives the fares to build and enjoy the good life.

Handling wisdom, skills and tactics may be slowly built, though. "Build brain" for that.

Differ from the crowd, and the more needs for fences or shielding may appear. Do something about it before it is too late. Be forewarned, risk little and meditate well on your own, and your lot may improve. Buddha's teachings are for such things. [The Gentle Middle Way]

Shield yourself well from many future embarrassments and maladaptations on your own good terms as you are up to it.

Fit devotion is the kind Adi Shankara speaks of in "The Four Perfections": "Chief among the causes of Freedom is devotion, the intentness of the soul on its own nature. Or devotion may be called intentness on the reality of Oneself."

Cult members, or figurative farm animals

In the old Greek story of Ulysses, his crew was turned into swine by Circe. Enlarging on the theme, many cult members may be compared to farm animals - cattle, sheep, swine, a horse here and there, and so on. A tense cult may turn naive beginners into its "animals" of a sort and profit from such members. The sectarian zealot and farm animal may both be robbed of freedom and former grace, yet in different ways and degrees. Zealots may serve a cause, but not have enough devotion and confidence in dallying on their own terms. A member of a well manipulated and indoctrianted crew may have been sort of tamed for it, in part by phrases like "serving the deserving and great leaders". Sectarian conformity and faking along are far from as good as many clowns think.

A naive zealot could have been manipulated into it instead of getting good help. A sound education is in part for that.

Setting the scene

If a farm animal is not completely broken in, and wants to escape for wider fields that it once roamed in, what can it muster? Stereoid-dripping farm animals and muscle builders may have something in common. Besides, getting well fed and as a result obese is becoming a global problem in the industrialised world. There is no gainsaying of that.

Getting used or being made use of - cities serve such ends by and large. First the countryside resources are taken and exploited - minerals, plant life, animals, and then people are divided into classes. The lower classes tend to get more cramped environments as time goes by, and less freedom. Good things may become expensive too. Attitudes follow. It stands out that rich guys exploit the poor in many ways. Not just the poor in underveloped countries, but the poor in their own country too, after animals, plants, fish in the sea, the soil. Trends are ominous. However, a lot of good people close their eyes and let the business-minded, profit-seeking ones get their ways and deplete.

The stage is being set for more control, more surveillance, more power and resources in the hands of the rich few, and much social impotence for the rest of us.

Some common farms or enterprises may not look all bad, for much depends on how humanely animals are made use of, how fit their regulated set-up living patterns are, and so on. However, they are not free to live on their own terms in a habitat that suits them nicely. They are in fact prisoners that are being made use of. The cat may be an exception.

The current perception I get from the evening news is that the world is dominated by human failure, crime, catastrophe, corruption, and tragedy. We are all tuning in to see how the human mind is evolving, but the media keeps hammering home the opposite, that the human mind is mired in darkness and folly. [Deepak Chopra]

Will building more muscle be accompanied by some sort of hidden castration?

Muscular or fat in these times

If getting muscular or fat is at best only poor help, what is good help? It could be more brains and divine power if conditions allow for it . . . Get duly informed. There are good reasons for getting proper shields at hand, just in case. Rich people find out there is a need to shield themselves. Those who are rich in higher things and assets than those money can buy, may also find there is a need to protect oneself, for example one's humaneness, or humanity.

Go for the best reasons available, and get a sound education to escape being enmeshed so much.

Study Abraham Maslow's pyramid better

Abraham Maslow (1987) speaks of a pyramid of needs. Needs fulfilled may become riches. There are material, social and other riches. To have ample resources and funds, good health, a good family, and much property speaks of wealth too. Good friends are a form of richness as well. To have the respect of good persons is likewise. Self-respect, self-esteem are still higher forms of wealth. To have a sound moral and go for facts is higher still. And a rich soul goes a long way. Souls may be developed to become fecund.

Abraham Maslow's Pyramid of Needs +

Figure. Abraham Maslow's postulated pyramid of layered (hierarchic) needs with some "room on the top" - that is, room for developments.

"Fulfillment steps" that Maslow postulate, to be read from bottom and up:

  • Yogic freedom (above Maslow's five levels).
  • Self-actualization desires and yearnings.
  • Esteem hankerings.
  • Social yearnings.
  • Safety adherence.
  • Physiological, steady competence needs.

'Freedom': If we reach Transcendental Mind and apply yogic sanyama in those states, we might grow in spirit and get "soul rich" - and seek protections that may go along with it. [Yoga Sutras on sanyama]

Clinging in Beneficial Ways

For a baboon child, clinging is vital to existence. For a human child it is likewise, and human id (libido) helps survival through fit bonding and, well, clinging, through various stages described in psychodynamic thinking of Erik Erikson and many others. There are many angles and outlooks in these waters.

As we grow older, our clinging subsides to the end that others think it fit to cling to us for some reason or other. That is how it is to be a parent, in a nutshell. You care for them and foster them, and in the end you set them free, for you have made it possible for them to get and live a good life too - hopefully. And if not, there may be comfort in "I did my very best" unless we lie to ourselves. Some are good at it.

All this goes to say that clinging is not bad in itself; that there is a natural place for it, and that proper development may be marked by less and less clinging to others. It also tells you that some views are plainly beneficial, others are not, and that still other views again come in between the two, the beneficial and destructive clinging. Watch out for the last one, warns Buddha repeatedly, for it easily leads into an aborted or worsened existence, depending largely on others, and starving your self-sufficiency too, perhaps.

Clinging has its times in nature, but persisting in it when it is overdue, may lead to stagnation and later starvation.

Very, very good ideas

There are views that are told to be beneficial without being so. Are there any ways to discern well enough in this? Buddha gives an overview in the Kalama Sutta. "Doubt and investigate" is much harmonised with a "If you don't manage it, do other things I say also."

We may apply those splendid thoughts by treading the Gentle Middle Way on and up. Further note there is a Tibetan way of using doubt to rise mentally, for example. It is at the bottom of Zen koan practice, it is held. [Get the edge of beliefs also]

Sound advances in life may be had by planning and managing all right. "Don't believe so much; try to make sure instead if you can, and why not in fit ways?" is part of such life management. Kalama Sutta. Fit ways include asking the counsel of experienced ones, and going for what is beneficial for many and not just oneself, he suggests there.

When we combine the gist of various verses in Sanatan Dharma and Buddhism, we could be better off and know much better who are true friends and how to be good friends to ourselves and near ones, perhaps discreetly so at first.

Hovering, great-looking ideas may be scrutinised first, before they are more or less tentatively applied.

Get beyond words and phrases easily

At times what is needed is to get beyond and above words, ideas, and phrases. Students who fall asleep over a heap of textbooks may same amen and aye to that.

Buddhism cautions about dangers of clinging - to possessions, pleasures, people, and views. He says that we should not cling even to his teachings. However, Buddha's counsel to transcend all sorts of clinging and transcend your viewpoints, does not mean that nothing in Buddhism is important.

The Yoga Sutras likewise advocates non-attachment and holds attachment as a hindrance (1.12; 2:3; 2:9-10; 3:51).

The Avadhut Gita 4.21 says, "Renounce, renounce the world, and also renounce renunciation, and even give up the absence of renunciation."

The Bhagavad Gita as it has come down to us, makes a point of non-attachment, vairagya in three of its verses (6.35; 13.9; and 18,52)

Here we have many words and phrases that advise against getting attached to words and phrases. So are we to ignore them wholesale? The ones with text attachments may do. However, to get beyond (transcend) words and phrases to arrive at direct and beneficial experience is far better. Love to stick to those teachings and implement them as well as you can. Some may need a little help, for when some faulty notion or wrong view matures into intentions and conduct that is thought to be worthy, but is hardly so, there is the danger of a meandering and at least partly wasting a life instead of a swift, beneficient and safe course through life. TM was formed to help a lot, and it does]

Some who make frantic efforts to befriend you, may in fact be clingers, if not creepers. Hence, learn do your things, shield yourself well and progress - not like a tortoise in all respects, but far better. That is the main idea.

Guru Dev says it is clever to use one's body, mind, abilities and wealth to favour oneself - a good friend of the Self. [Mason 2009, 59]


"Look where you leap"

Gist of a Previous Yoga Page

When realism is lacking, disillusionment, disappointment and suffering may set in over time. Learn to look - and in part to observe well - and study relevant and valid facts that pertain to the subject of study, and further. Keep to sensible instructions that do not take your freedom of thought and actions away, and much could be won. Get some skills in weighing pros and cons that are found.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi encouraged ◦research into measurable effects of TM. It is so much better than loose goadings and bragging.

Some societies get cultish with time and resort to selected, fine-looking or well-selling phrases, even though "Big words don't fatten the cabbage (Proverb)."

It helps to be guarded, fair and well informed at times too. It can become necessary to strike a proper balance between many and at times conflicting interests. Sometimes we can adapt things to ourselves without much trouble - more or less so -, and sometimes adapt ourselves to them - more or less. We could need to strike a suitable adaptation balance to go on as well as can be.

What is "not needed, but helpful" may not have to be forsaken.

Adapt things to be actually helpful.

Research and research -

Qualitative study is not much to go for where people are insincere. A source of error in what is called qualitative research is possible lack of sincerity among respondents. Qualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information:

  1. Participation in the setting;
  2. Direct observation;
  3. In depth interviews;
  4. Analysis of documents and materials.

Qualitative research is rather exploratory. To the degree a dissertation based on qualitative studies do not catch up main currents and looming problems, such work is not very deep-probing.

It could help to study what others say, what they do, and what they have set in effect. Mere words rarely weigh the most.

Some Problems of Yoga

A yoga beginner may have to deal with (1) methods offered or sold; (2) teachings; (3) teachers and others with or without bossy behaviour; (4) the basic structures of organizations. To steer with fit assertiveness in these waters as a newcomer may not be an easy task unless you are lucky.

1. Get at least a sound overview of the teacher or guru in question, as reliable as you can get it.

2. In addition to finding out how an organisation presents itself to get acclaim and so on, maybe there are good alternative sources to look into - some of which online.

3. Teachings can be compared with other teachings and your own basis, to see how fit they seem to you. But appearances can deceive; that is a sect trick too. Also, great guru self-contradictions and verbose blur may cause confusion and worse.

Ralph Waldo Emerson says of menial orators: "Power is what they want, not candy." Some work up "madness of many for the gain of a few", although it is not an easy task. [Emerson, in Atkinson 1950:698]


Metaphors and Values

A wolf, passing by, saw some shepherds in a hut eating a haunch of mutton for their dinner. Approaching them, he said,

"What a clamour you would raise if I were to do as you are doing!" [A fable of Aesop's]

The good shepherd probably does not kill the whole herd in one day, and differs from a bad wolf in that way. (See Matthew 9:12; John 10:27 etc.)

Figurative mentions can serve as forewarnings. Fables and other stories from antiquity are rich in figurative imagery and may expose interests at odds.

Figurative ways of wording can be used for good or bad, can enlighten or distort. There may be help in learning Sachlichkeit, being matter-of-fact.

Wild animals are naturally running about, attentive and cautious. Many future troubles can be averted or bulwarked against if such things are done in time, and preparations against impending or possible tight spots. But when it comes to farm animals and their learnt helplessness, they need at least to thrive. Both sudden and slow improvements can help. But setting old, tamed dogs loose to feed themselves unaided in the big wide open, wherever it is found, may not show up to be substantial help.

Old members of farms for humans are rarely marked by "Yippy!"

Among those who are massively subjected to regulations we find some who are made use of in several ways.

We may extend figurative mentions and thereby learn something useful from them. In fables by Aesop and others many themes are found and a bit unpleasant understanding might be won Better make sure. There may be rather significant similarities between tamed or herded animals and cult members.

There are wolves in sheep's clothing around too

Once on a time a wolf resolved to disguise how he looked in order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock and deceived the shepherd by his costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure.

But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night to get meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the wolf instead of a sheep, and killed him on the spot. (Aesopian fable)

The question is what we learn from it. Some speak of wolves and mean greedy humans and warn against them beforehand. Many of those wolves are dressed up.

Also worth noting: In antiquity, orators used fables to sway listeners by demagogy. Rhetoric is hot enough still, cherished by some, and some knowledge of some of the "tricks of the trade" could perhaps improve our lots if given fair conditions first. [Aesop 1998:x-xviii, passim].

On the other hand, "In order to succeed, you must [at least] like what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing," much as the US humorist Will Rogers said. Sound personal or individual development may be crowned by what the psychologist Carl R. Rogers refers to as the fully functioning person. He proposes the organism has a basic tendency and striving to actualise, maintain and enhance the experiencing organism of the self-accepting person. One may adjust to it (Shertzer and Stone 1974, 216-19).

It helps to be forewarned where experiences mar. The US humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) mentioned:

Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.

What to aim for (a positive aim in life): "Atman [spirit] is supreme Bliss", says the Ramayana (Suddhasatwananda,1985, 63).

Transcendental Meditation, TM, stupefying riches and good friends, be your own friend, befriend yourself by meditation yoga, art, realising yourself well, protec yourself well, yoga well-being, masters, animals of religion, sound yoga, meditation riches, great riches, hovering riches, Literature  

Aesop. 1998. The Complete Fables. Translated by Olivia and Robert Temple. London: Penguin Books.

Atkinson, Brooks, ed. 1950. Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Modern Library.

Evans, Gail. 2007. Counselling Skills for Dummies. Chichester, UK: John Wiley.

Hough, Margaret. 2014. Counselling Skills and Theory. 4th ed. London: Hodder Education.

Kirschenbaum, Howard, and Valerie Henderson, eds. 1989. The Carl Rogers Reader. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Maslow, Abraham. 1987. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins.

Mason, Paul. 2009. Guru Dev as presented by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Life and Teachings of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (1941-53). Vol 3. Penzance, Cornwall: Premanand.

Milne, Aileen. 2010. Understand Counselling. London: Teach Yourself /Hodder Education.

Stewart, Ian. 2007. Transactional Analysis Counselling in Action. 3rd ed. London: Sage Publications, 2007.

Shertzer, Bruce, and Shelley Stone. 1974. Fundamentals of Counceling. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton.

Shrand, Joseph A., with Leigh M. Devine. 2012. Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Sutton, Jan, and William Stewart. 2009. Learning to Counsel: Develop the Skills, Insight and Knowledge to Counsel Others. 3rd ed., amended reprint. Oxford: How To Books.

Suddhasatwananda, Swami, Thus Spake Sri Rama. 3rd ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1985.

Wahlund, Per. 1988. Osed och ordsed (Från Penu Proverbiale) (Bad Manners and Proverbs). Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.

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