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 Yamas & Niyamas - Restraints & Observances
 Moral discussions
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1608 Posts

Posted - Aug 14 2005 :  9:50:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
As our yoga practice deepens our sense of morality and ethical behavior becomes more refined.

I'd like to start a few moral/ ethical discussions to see how AYP Forum members feel about some of the issues that I have noticed people find more controversial in life. Hopefully this fits into the interests of those who visit this site and into the guidelines of this particular forum category.

I think most people agree that it is morally right to help someone who wants to be helped. I think most would also agree that it is immoral to hurt someone who doesn't want to be hurt.

How about these two questions:

Is it moral or immoral to hurt someone who wants to be hurt?

Is it moral or immoral to help someone who doesn't want to be helped?

I know how I feel about these issues, how do others feel? Is there universal truth or are there grey areas in life? Please feel free to express your opinions openly.

Edited by - Anthem on Aug 15 2005 08:10:19 AM


2602 Posts

Posted - Aug 14 2005 :  11:51:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
I'll have a quick stab at this now -- if it does not mind being stabbed... Not a full answer, a comment ...

>> Is it immoral to hurt someone who wants to be hurt?

This question divides, I think, into many, because there are so many meanings of 'being hurt'.

In a sense, no-one actually wants more pleasure than pain. If someone wants to be spanked on the butt for example, they are getting some pleasure from it that outweighs, for them, the pain of the stinging buttocks.

And, let's face it, we all are prepared to trade some pain for pleasure, and even encourage the trait of being prepared to do that; consider a long exhausting hiking adventure; or a rock-climb and so on; or a gruelling run.


Edited by - david_obsidian on Aug 14 2005 11:52:52 PM
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870 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  3:03:04 PM  Show Profile  Visit Manipura's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
The only universal truth that I've yet found is that life is one big, fat grey area. The blacks and whites occur only on a case by case basis, and even they are scarce, as it is seldom that we know beyond doubt which is the best choice in any given situation. Immorality becomes black and white when we act out against our intuition, and too often we recognize it after the fact. Morality, then, is when we act according to our intuition, in spite of the pain that we will inflict on another or on ourselves.

Listening to one's intuition (i.e., seeing the black and white) is a developed skill, and that's where aging comes in handy. It's asking in each situation, What will work for the highest good for this person, and for myself?

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8 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  4:44:09 PM  Show Profile  Visit ebby's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello Anthem!
before answering any of your questions, it would be very important to under the meaning of moral and immoral. Since these words have a different meaning for each individual, depending on his or her backgrownd (socio/religious etc.). If we could in general have a universal understanding of the words that would please each and everyone of us then I think it would be easy to give an answer to your questions.

Ebony-Khadija Davis
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1608 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  5:11:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Good point Ebby. Here are some definitions provided by the good people of the highly regarded (?)


1- Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
2-Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
3-Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
4-Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.


Contrary to established moral principles.

1- Violating principles of right and wrong [ant: moral, amoral.
2- Not adhering to ethical or moral principles.

Hope this helps.



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870 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  6:11:39 PM  Show Profile  Visit Manipura's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
These definitions are helpful only if we can all agree on what is right and wrong, good and bad. It's a slippery slope when we try to predetermine morality.
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363 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  9:29:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit Frank-in-SanDiego's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hari Om
Interesting topic... a few points to develop the frame of thought if I may.
re: Truth - I look to Patanjali - for a possible answer to this question - Chapt 1 Sutra 48 for those curious.
There is a state of consciousness called Rtambhara Prajana - ( literally means "full of unalloyed truth") - we can find the answers there.

re: Morality of good and bad and its impact... I would ask what state of consciousness do you care to talking about? - knowledge is different in different states of consciousness which is the raw materials for action, thought and deeds or acting/defining moral values.
A realized being will act differently then one not. I mention this because Truth is unwavering. The same today as a million years from now. Anything less is not Truth, but social norms, rules, guides, and values that morph over time.

Good and bad becomes relative. Both these are opposite poles of the same relative field of our existence -
It's when we are operating without the 3 gunas (the relative field of life) and stabilize this level 4th level of consciousness ( turyia consciousness) then all our actions are within the laws of nature - we do nothing - its all done for us - from the outside it looks like s/he is acting yet to the enlightened its all being done by nature - what of good and bad then?

In my humble assessment of this subject , its all about who has the better argument that prevails, not getting to core/crux of the matter. In the final analysis - I am THAT, thou art THAT, all this is THAT ( one of the greatest Truths or Mahavakya's).
Once this is realized what use is morality when every thing you see , touch, smell, etc is an extension of your SELF. There is no duality in this state - its all you. Ahum Brahmasmi , I am Brahman.

Regarding the question posed "Is it moral or immoral to help someone who doesn't want to be helped?" This quickly becomes a curious question - it's YOU that you ask this of... Only in duality (or not established in the SELF) does this paradox arise. A society of realized individuals is the objetive. What then of war? Fight your SELF? This is the dignity of the family of man - anything less, we have missed our full potential as a people.
So, the nagging question is, "what do you do till this is realized?"... my answer is the best you can with the wisdom you have
at the moment and guidance from Yama and Niyama.

Om shanti shanti shantiye
Frank in SD
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5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 15 2005 :  10:35:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you, Frank.

You beat me to the punch on that one, and I agree.

Pure bliss consciousness is the source of morality (oneness), just as being obstructed from it is the source of immorality (separateness).

Patanjali provides specific guidelines -- the 1st and 2nd limbs of the 8 limbs of yoga (, which are symptomatic of the rise of the inner light. In AYP we regard them as signposts of spiritual transformation more than edicts, though at certain times firmness of will in a particular yama or niyama may be in the best interest of all concerned (like in our recent 12 step discussion --

Yama  It means "restraint," and includes ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (preservation and cultivation of sexual energy), and aparigraha (non-covetousness).

Niyama  It means "observance," and includes saucha (purity and cleanliness), samtosa (contentment), tapas (heat/focus/austerity), svadhyaya (study of scriptures and self), and isvara pranidhana (surrender to the divine).

Interestingly, these bear resemblance to the 10 commandments of Moses and the beatitudes of Christ. The truth is the same everywhere...

The guru is in you.
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1608 Posts

Posted - Aug 16 2005 :  10:20:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
First I would like to remark that I really like what Frank said about doing the best you can with the wisdom you have at the moment. I think this is a great truth in itself.

I also think it is an excellent idea to follow the guidelines provided by Yama and Niyama and to be comforted by the idea that one day it will become obvious how to act as we are able to clearly perceive the universal truth. However, until the time we are fully realized or society as a whole is far more enlightened, there are a great number of daily life issues that one will encounter along the way, many of which arent covered by Yama and Niyama.

If many of the great sages of the past are correct and life is in fact play for the spirit, who are we to show people the truth who dont want to know? Maybe they are having great fun not remembering that they are That? There are many areas of life where we can communicate aspects of the truth to someone and be giving them what they want rather than truly helping them realize the higher truth. Which should take priority? In short, where does our responsibilty lie?

From where I am standing there seems to be a lot of grey areas and I wonder if knowing the absolute truth would help or if we have to accept that there will still be a lot of choices to be made?
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5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 16 2005 :  10:56:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
"I reach for a piece of wood. It turns into a lute.
I do some meanness. It turns out helpful.
I say one must not travel during the holy month.
Then I start out, and wonderful things happen." ~Rumi

Like that, if we meditate and keep dancing, we will find our way. That is where our responsibility lies. Divine life is filled with paradox, and ever opening. Better not to second-guess it too much ... though that too is part of it.

The guru is in you.
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1608 Posts

Posted - Aug 16 2005 :  12:36:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you Yogani for that insigtful post. From the discussions so far I have come up with this mini summary:

Responsibility is to do the best you can at that moment, play with the choices, learn from the outcomes, accept the unknowable and move forward.

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5161 Posts

Posted - Aug 17 2005 :  11:26:39 AM  Show Profile  Visit yogani's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks, Anthem, for your kind note. If we keep up practices over the long term, the decision-making gets easier -- obvious even. Not that we know the outcome of all things, or that it will always be what we want. We just come to know that inner silence is the best launching pad for all outcomes. Experience bears this out over time. This is how abiding inner silence gained in deep meditation fulfills yama and niyama. But more than that, we become our own compass at the deepest level of morality, which is beyond yama and niyama. Freedom...

The guru is in you.
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