It is often quite hard to live in a community full of people, or let’s say, be in an organization where we work with others. All of us are in some way different from each other, and yet are the same because we are on the spiritual path, whether in the cities, countryside, or elsewhere. Every soul is evolving. And our growth can happen to a large extent when we learn or strive to work cooperatively with others. Knowing how to relate to other people’s realities, sensitively and kindly, while at the same time, not being affected inwardly by the opinions of others – these two things can give us the true balance in living and working with others. This I consider as true maturity.
When I was going through a phase of problems with almost everybody, I turned to Swamiji. I couldn’t understand why others didn’t understand me, or like me, and I was also upset about it all. I was reacting to all of it. Swamiji very caringly responded to me, and made me understand two very important things:
- I shouldn’t be concerned or bothered about how others think of me, what their opinions were about me. Why? Because it all makes me think a million more thoughts about myself. It makes me self-involved. Others are usually wrong about us, and people don’t change. We just have to forget and move on. We need to see what we can change in our behaviour that will allow us to continue peacefully, rather than react and get all upset. People have opinions and they don’t owe it to us to think one way or another about us. The only thing we can do is change something in ourselves.
- Misunderstandings and even persecution or hurts are part of a life that is dedicated to God. So if you are on the path to finding the ultimate gift of all, you might as well expect these things to come. When we can be non-attached to how the world perceives us and simply resolve to love others, no matter how much negativity they hurl at us, we will find great inner strength and peace of mind.
In our inner self and those natural states when we are joyful, we will notice that we aren’t normally worrying or thinking about ourselves (the ego or personality). We are enjoying the joy that is planted within our hearts by God, or we may be sharing something fun and light with others. Anything that increases inner joy is increasing our spirituality; any reaction within us making us upset or angry with others decreases our spirituality. Swamiji was very clear about this.
I have learned one very important lesson related to these lessons, as further growth down this path. If I don’t agree with how others think of me, and I sense judgement, all I need to do is remember the God within each one. There is a spark of divinity in each one. I can choose to forgive them and relate to that Light in them and feel my oneness with their higher Self, or I can choose to see their fears, their faults and anything that holds them back. Because what we give our focus to, becomes the reality. The mind and our thoughts can play a big role in determining how our life turns out to be.
Another thing to remember is that everyone is going through something or the other, even if it may not seem that way. There is suffering in everyone’s lives, for that is the nature of this dualistic world of Maya. By being more compassionate towards others, we are loving the Divine Mother, the God and the Guru, within them. Swamiji used to say that it is God in each one, trying to realize his true nature, and struggling to find lasting happiness.
Finally, it’s most important to remember that people and friendships that are based on mutual respect and kindness, are more important to preserve than anything else we have in our lives. If we make the people in our lives, and the higher principles of dharma, our main priority in each day of our lives, Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, and later Paramhansa Yogananda. Swami Kriyananda, all say – there shall be a victory! We will be able to feel the smile and the gladness of our God and our Guru in our hearts. What better feeling than that! Let’s try to give up the ego when we work with others, and always place humility, love and forgiveness above everything else. Divine Friendships can lead to blessings if we remember that it is all about unity and oneness, not separation.