Most spiritual traditions have codes of conduct to guide us toward a better spiritual life. Judaism, Christianity and Islam each have a set of 10 commandments that are ethics and guidelines for worship. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali sets forth a similar group of ethical guidelines and disciplines.
The power in these ethical codes is that they are absolute: if we lie, we are not honest; if we kill we are violent. In this way, all that we have to do is follow the guidelines to be good people. It is really that simple.
My current favorite is Cleanliness/Purity. Keep the body clean, eat clean food, avoid dark and angry thoughts. When one acts and thinks in a clean way, one is and becomes clean.
It is even easier to be an honest person. All we have to do is tell the truth. Always. It can seem like an insurmountable expectation, but after a little while of being completely honest, the mind develops a clarity that is hard to ignore. After that, anything other than the truth clouds the mind and becomes intolerable. We want to tell the truth. We have to.
Being "good" is a little more vague, but that is why all these traditions specify behaviors to do and avoid. Don't be violent, don't lie, be generous, be kind. If we do these things, we embody the person that we have always dreamed of becoming. We cease to be in conflict with ourselves and our better nature.
ps. The same is true of happiness. To be happy, what we must do is be happy.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga