maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam
Through cultivating attitudes of friendliness, compassion, delight and equanimity towards pleasure and pain, virtue and non-virtue, the consciousness retains its undisturbed calmness.
In meditation, the mind tends to be disturbed all the time. This sutra introduced four qualities, which keep the mind as an aid in the process of self realization.
Cultivation friendliness towards happy (sukha) is necessary, because sometimes we feel jealous or envious towards people who are happy, outstanding, successful or enjoying the fruits of their labour. This tendency distracts the mind and is the number one obstacle that prevents us from achieving calmness. Instead of such reactions, we should meditate on friendliness, so that the mind will not create thoughts that disturbs us.
On the other hand, when we encounter someone who is suffering (duhkha), our mind tends to relate their current experiences with their karma, creating thought waves such as “they suffer because of their bad karma”, etc.. Patanjali recommends us to open our heart with compassion, although what we could do for them may be very limited. Act out of love, support others when they are suffering.
When we come across someone who is sincerely acting in virtue, jealousy and other negative emotions can easily arise, because we realize that we are not like them. Our mind may have the tendency to look for a way to discredit them, consciously or unconsciously. However, if we become neutral and unattached to our inner sense, we could meditate on joy and enjoy goodwill and happiness.
If we encounter people who we see as bad or wicked, we have the tendency to hate them. A lot of us believe the all people are pure at the deepest level, so we cannot accept individuals who behave dishonest, cruel, mean, etc.. Outside is the reflection of inside. Do we have the same behaviors which are concealed deep inside? Patanjali suggests we remain neutral, indifferent, towards such people and behaviors. It seems difficult. But only neutrality helps to stabilize the mind and prepare the mind for meditation.
In daily practice, we can use interpersonal relationships to develop these qualities and improve awareness. Even someone who is not on the spiritual path could benefit from following these advices.