Be Compassionate with
Unhappy People

Patanjali Yoga Sutras - Knowledge Sheet 29

Contd. from knowledge sheet 28

Now, what about unhappy people? If you are friendly with unhappy people, what happens? You also become unhappy. So he says do not be friendly with unhappy people, but be compassionate with them. The second bhāva he has given is Karuna.

With unhappy people, do not be friendly with them, but be compassionate.


People who are suffering, have sympathy, compassion for them but do not hook on to friendliness because it drags you down also to be unhappy. You are unhappy and they are unhappy. You will be of no use to in helping them out. Do you see what I am saying? If you think you have to share your friend’s unhappiness with them then share it. Then, will you be able to share your happiness with them? Not possible. So with unhappy people, do not be friendly with them, but be compassionate to them.

Difference between compassion and & pity

There is a difference there. Do you get this point? Karuna – compassion: be compassionate to them. Do not say, "Oh poor thing, it should not have happened to you.”. You know, we do not know how to be with people who are suffering. We go and make their beliefs more strong saying that God is so unjust. “Nature is so unkind to you. Why are you suffering? You poor thing!” We push them even further down, down the drain. Instead of pulling them out of the drain, we push them down. We do this unconsciously because we think that they are our great friends.

No. People, who are suffering, do not pity them. See there is a difference between compassion and pity. In pitying, you are not pulling them up. You are putting them down even more and most people do this. They make the belief of the person (who is suffering), about their sorrow, more concrete (about their sorrow) in whatever limited logic of their relative existence. Are you getting what I am saying? “Oh great injustice has been done to me.” They are miserable and are on a self-pity trip and you go and say, “Oh you poor thing! You are so miserable. This should not have happened to you.” So the person thinks, “Yes, see I am suffering.” You do not help them in any way to wake up from/ to the Ttruth. This is nothing. Many people are suffering even more. Do you see that? I am not telling you to go and tell them, “What you are suffering is nothing. Many people are suffering even more.” You will kindle anger in them. Have compassion for people who are suffering and not friendliness.

Next week: How to deal with people who are engaged in good or meritorious jobs.

<< Four Types of PeopleFeel happy, become one with people doing a good job>>


(This is part of a series of knowledge sheets based on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's commentaries on Patanjali Yoga Sutras.)