How good and bad company shape our minds - A Yogic Perspective
“Avoid fraternising with people who don’t share your values. Prolonged association with those with false ideas can only tarnish your thinking.” - Epictetus - The great Stoic philosopher
The human mind is a very powerful and fascinating tool. Apart from various other functions it also works as a receptive instrument that gathers information from all available external sources. Thus the people we choose to relate with and the environment we live in greatly influence our behaviour. Both good company and negative associations affect our mind in profound ways and produce changes that can deeply transform our behaviour, actions and thoughts.
In fact, every person's fate is influenced by the group of people they associate with, known as 'sangha', which means company or association. In this sense, the term 'satsang' represents being in the company of the wise, surrounded by truth and spiritual illumination.
The first step in satsang is cultivating the right kind of company and being amongst those one admires most. Surround yourself with people that inspire you, and the one's that have the qualities you seek. Family, friends and social interactions all have a profound impact on you. In general, good associations don't merely uplift the spirit, but also help building a strong personality and character.
It is important to review ones limitations and weaknesses in order to understand how ones mind functions and how best to improve it . Seek opportunities to be with people who will help you become a better version of yourself; those who have transcended your limitations and weaknesses.
Gurus often tell us that moving on the path from compulsiveness to consciousness requires a lot of effort, support and mainly, the right company. As Sadhguru recently said "Do not underestimate the influence of the company that you keep. Most human beings are – knowingly or unknowingly – shaped by the company that they keep."
If on one hand, good company uplifts us; on the other hand, negative associations affect us negatively in both spiritual and worldly evolution. That is why the company one keeps is so important, helping one become either better or worse in the long term.
Negative associations not only affect us, but also affect the people around us as a consequence. Anything that brings impure thoughts to the mind is a negative association and spending time around people caught in compulsive patterns can have a disastrous impact on ones life.
Under the influence of negativity, the mind becomes filled with negative ideas, which lead to anger, delusion, loss of memory and reduced discrimination. Hence, one should always protect oneself from unwanted influences, avoiding at all costs people who lie, steal, gossip, and most importantly, never associate with people full of self-doubt and self-hatred.
The great Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, once said: “Avoid fraternising with people who don’t share your values. Prolonged association with those with false ideas can only tarnish your thinking.”
Indeed, every person who has spiritual aspirations should avoid all kinds of negative associations. Just one wrong association can ruin all virtues and good qualities. Sooner or later, when in bad company, the influence of negative thoughts and tendencies will overpower one’s mind. For this reason, moving away from toxic people and negative influences is very important for spiritual growth.
Given these points, it is extremely important that we cultivate the right kind of company and carefully choose the people we relate with. Only by building strong relationships with good company - friends, family and loved ones, will one be able to find peace and comfort and evolve in all aspects of life.