The Four Locks

I had intended to write about the virtues of a sugar-free diet this week, and while I do consider sugar a form of evil, given the events on Monday at the Marathon I’ve decided to turn this entry to yoga philosophy. For full disclosure, I do not claim to be any expert on yoga philosophy nor do I have any answers to calm the mind about the horrific event on Monday, but since I can’t stop thinking about it — and I’m sure many of you may be having the same trouble — I thought I’d try to exorcise some of the emotion with a blog dedicated to it.

The sutra that keeps nudging its way into my mind right now is Sutra 1.33. If you’re not familiar with it, it states: By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard for the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness.

It’s known as the four keys to handling the four locks — those locks being happy people, unhappy people, virtuous people and wicked people. These are the people who tend to get under our skin or ruffle our feathers for one reason or another. If we can approach such categories of people with the appropriate lock then we will have peace of mind. Simple. Got it, Patanjali. Except that life isn’t that simple.

In every teacher training with which I’ve been a part, the fourth lock — disregard for the wicked — is the most unpalatable. Inevitably, Hitler comes up, and also in this year’s fall trainings the Newton shooting was the most obvious and egregious act that we simply cannot disregard. So here it is again with the Boston Marathon Bombings as the news people have labeled it. For me, this one is most personal as several Stoneham High School classmates — football players and rugged boys — became amputees. For many of us who grew up around Boston, the tragedy hits way too close to home, literally and figuratively.

How can we possibly just disregard what happened? We can’t. And I don’t think that was Patanjali’s intention.

Instead, we try disregard the sick, evil perpetrator, not the outcome of the event itself. Clearly, such wicked people are not deserving of our attention, of our thoughts. Giving such animals air time just makes them hungry. The victims, of course, are deserving, and after such tragedies, we tend to see a banding together of people. People rush to help the wounded in the immediate aftermath. We cry and mourn for the fallen as if we knew them all their lives. We create benefits and fundraisers to support the victims.

There is no proverbial silver lining in this, or any, tragedy, but at the very least we learn that fundamentally we are all the same. All the material goods and wealth, beauty and good fortune that seemingly separate us or categorize us mean nothing in a time of tragedy. We all want to live happy, healthy lives free of tyranny and terror and full of love. The innate kindness of humanity is unveiled. We can throw away the four locks for this moment in time.