Sadachara or Right Conduct

From Easy Steps to Yoga, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

All aspirants commit mistakes now in jumping to samadhi and dhyana all at once as soon as they leave their houses without caring a bit for ethical perfection. The mind remains in the same condition although they have practised meditation for fifteen years. They have the same jealousy, hatred, idea of superiority, pride, egoism, etc. Meditation and samadhi come by themselves when one has the ethical perfection.

Sadachara or right conduct is the foundation of yoga. Yoga is rooted in virtue. Ethical discipline is very necessary for success in yoga. Ethical discipline is the practice of right conduct in life. One should be well established in sadachara to begin with. Sadachara is the practice of yama-niyama. Yama and niyama are the two moral backbones of yoga, which the aspirant must practise in his daily life. These correspond roughly to the ten commandments of Jesus or to the noble eightfold path of Lord Buddha. The practice of yama-niyama will eradicate all impurities of the mind.

The mind becomes pure by cultivating habits of friendliness, compassion, complacency and indifference towards happiness, misery, virtue and vice. Whosoever shows friendliness towards all those who are found in the enjoyments of pleasures, the dirt of envy leaves him. When the mind shows compassion towards those who are suffering from pain and the wish to remove the miseries of others as if they were his own, the dirt of the desire to do evil to others is removed. Whoever shows complacency towards those who are virtuously inclined beings, the dirt of envy is removed from his mind. Whoever shows indifference towards the vicious and taking to the middle path and not taking sides towards the viciously inclined, the dirt of impatience is removed from his mind.

By this removal of the characteristics of the qualities of disturbing energy or rajas, and inertia or tamas, the characteristic of essential purity or sattwa manifests itself. He becomes possessed of a very high manifestation of essential purity. His mind becomes inclined to the side of restraining mental modifications, because this enlightenment is natural to that state. When the mind becomes pure it attains the state of steadiness and becomes one-pointed. If these moral qualities are not cultivated, the means cannot lead to steadiness. Therefore, one should be well established in sadachara if one wants to attain perfection in yoga. When one is established in it perfectly, then samadhi or nishtha will come by itself.

To speak the truth; to practise ahimsa; not to hurt the feelings of others in thought, word and deed; not to speak harsh words to anyone; not to show anger towards anybody; not to abuse others or speak ill of others and to see God in all beings is sadachara. If you abuse anyone, if you hurt the feelings of others, really you are abusing yourself and hurting the feelings of God only. Himsa, injuring, is a deadly enemy of bhakti and jnana. It separates and divides. It stands in the way of realizing unity or oneness of Self.

That act or exertion which does not do good to others, or that act for which one has to feel shame should never be done. That act, on the other hand, should be done for which one may be lauded in society. This is a brief description of what right conduct is.

It is by conduct that one acquires a long life, and it is by conduct that one acquires riches and prosperity. It is a means to attain the goal of life. Without good conduct no one can achieve the goal. Good conduct brings in fame, longevity, wealth and happiness. It eventually leads to moksha. It is conduct that begets virtue, and it is virtue which prolongs life. Conduct gives fame, long life and heaven. Conduct is the most efficacious rite of propitiating the celestials.