When asked what sets our teacher apart from others, I can easily say ethics. Our teacher, Max Strom, has always set the best example for his students, seekers and friends. He speaks clearly, truthfully and everything he says is rooted in kindness. In 10 years, I have watched him evolve and never divert from his message of “pick a code and follow it with all of your heart.” His code has changed, only to become simplified, but this shows me that he continuously revisits his code for what he knows now. His teaching to us, has meant so much that I wanted to share it with you.
Often we know what we are against, but what do we stand for? What is our higher code of conduct or ethics? As adults, we have choices to make and what tools do we use to guide those choices? When we go to church, they offer the 10 Commandments, but what these don’t speak to your heart. In yoga, we hear or study the Yamas and the Niyamas. What if these don’t address our current needs or lives? Max’s advice to us was to create our own code or use one that clearly resonates with you and then live this code. You may wonder what I mean by a code of conduct, so here are some examples:
- Yamas (in Yoga) are how you relate to others- ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing or coveting), brahmacharya (virtuous sexuality), aparigraha (non-attachment)
- 10 Virtues that are found in all religions, compiled by Max- kindness, honesty, gratitude, respect, virtuous sexuality, forgiveness, contentment, discipline, mindfulness, voluntary simplicity
- Anonymous Code of Conduct written by a Yoga student- be kind to myself and others, be clear of my intentions before I take action, forgive family and friends of all past or future events, seek gratitude each day
- My Code of Conduct- Be kind to myself, family and friends, Be clear and honest in my communication with others, Know myself and my limits, Be patient and non-reactive, Be grateful, Always refer back to kindness if I am unsure of what to do
Start today by making a list of the virtues that mean something to you. If there are people you look up to, what qualities do they have that you wish to embody. Write them down. Take the time to list more than you may need. Once you have done that, you can go through the list and see which ones are related and connect them into one virtue. Five to ten virtues are best so you can remember them. Do this with a friend or even with your family. Watch how your dynamic changes in the house as everyone tries to uphold their code of conduct. Your code can change and should change as you grow.
They say Gandhi had only one virtue that he lived by- Ahimsa. He translated it as “love in action”. His life certainly showed this. If only we each had one virtue we could carry in our hearts and live by. Life might be a lot easier and we would always know where we stand and how to act accordingly.