It is not often we get a colossal public example of how the yoga precept of brahmacharya (purity, cleanliness, sexual continence/celibacy) and satya (telling the truth) when not heeded, can lead to himsa (harm) for the entire United States.
Yet, here it is. The most important job in which it is essential to be squeaky clean from risk of blackmail is Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Retired four-star General David Petraeus’ indiscretion could (and may have been) be used against him to breach security of agents and citizens. The CIA Director responsibilities include terminating staff-members vulnerable to blackmail.
General David Petraeus knew this. He let his senses dominate principles, sacred vows and intellect resulting in:
- Devastation of his family
- Destruction of a 37-year legacy of stellar public service
- Dismay of his friends
- Disgrace, distrust and potential peril to those he lead and
- Danger to the 300 million citizens he swore to protect.
Even if he had a one night stand, a good-night kiss or simply the appearance of a liaison, this was no little fling or indiscretion. The laws of the Universe, of cause and effect, are not personal. They are at play just like the law of gravity. (ie: There is no such thing as being a “little pregnant”.)
We watch, experience the emotions and flow through the stages of grief—shock, anger, sadness, acceptance together. It is tempting to point fingers, gossip, become dramatic or self-righteous. (Nothing like using someone else's bad to make us feel good) It is natural to be re-traumatized remembering the excruciating pain and consequenceswhen we violated our vows or others did not keep theirs.
Wisely, President Obama neither chastised the CIA Director nor gave a lecture. We don’t have to either.
Every single day we capitulate to the fleeting path of pleasure or pain promised by our five senses and their emotional stimulation. We become victims to pride when we hear words of adulation, the rush of positions of power or wealth, the rage when someone cuts us off in traffic, the buzz of morning coffee, the calming promise of that first glass of wine, the stimulation of virtual living through TV, sports or video games. How hard it is to resist the fiery attraction to a beautiful man or woman or the scent of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls (gluten, fat and high fructose corn syrup!) wafting through the mall?
Instead of letting the news of General Petraeus dredge up old feelings of betrayal or “holier than thou” judgment, humble yourself: There before the grace of God go I.
Instead of going on a soapbox about how awful men are, what a jezebel the mistress is, or ragging on people in power, remember: Everyone chose. The woman chose, too. She too succumbed to sense desires—passion, power, money or protection. Whether she knew it or not, she violated the “yamas” (common sense controls or boundaries preached from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and expounded throughout both Old and New Testament Bibles): “Brahmacharya” (purity, sexual continence), “satya” (truth) and “ahimsa” (non-harming). Both party’s actions sullied the purity of Petraeus’ marriage vows and contributed to the “D-list” above.
The natural law will mete out its own consequences. We don’t have to heap on ours.
Instead of criticizing, take the teaching and leverage the lesson. Offer a little compassion. Forgive but don’t forget the consequences.
Take a few moments to silently recommit to your vows, values and vision.
Hopefully, tomorrow, it won’t be you.
May all beings in all the worlds be happy and peaceful.
P.S. One more thing. Our administration will be better for this cleansing. Obama will be able to assemble a cohesive and more high-integrity team for our national security. On an individual note, when we take even little steps to clear our conscious or digestive system, we become more peaceful and life and flows easier.