People today who are interested in leading happy, peaceful lives are not just monks living in monasteries or in a peaceful recluse in the mountains, caves, forests and holy places. Instead it is the millions of people who belong to some family or another and are at different stages of their life. How can this major part of the world’s population attain a state of peace? What is the obstacle to peace and happiness in family life?
In a family there are any number of people, each one has different conditions, different likes and dislikes, different expectations, different aspirations. All of them are trying to make sure that their needs and expectations are met and they get the focus and attention they need.
For example, the husband might think he should be given the utmost respect because he works outside the home and supports his family. The wife believes that she is the glue which holds the family together, doing all the mundane household chores and taking care of the kids. She is exhausted, and yet he still wants to be the boss.
The kids think that parents are constantly trying to impose things upon them. The younger kids will bear with this for a while, because they are powerless. By the time they are teens, they show their rage. They feel repressed, because the parents didn’t take their individuality and opinions, or the past karmas the child brought to this world, into account. No child comes into this world to fit the preconceptions of their parents. They come with predispositions, to go through their own karmas or life lessons.
So everyone in the family keeps clashing, meeting on points of disagreement rather than on points of agreement. And it does not stay in the home. The husband takes his discontent to the workplace, the kids take it to school, the wife talks with her friends. And the virulent energy spreads. No one does their best because of the stress at home. Or something goes wrong in the workplace or school and they bring the negativity home where they flare up at someone in the family, when it has nothing to do with them. It’s a work or school problem they brought home.
We flare up one day and it goes into our memory. We flare up another day and it goes into our memory. Gradually everyone’s unconscious is identifying things they don’t like, until there is a division in the family.
We cannot give up our work. If we do, our family cannot function. We cannot give up our family. If we do, our life cannot function. We have to find a peaceful solution. The peaceful solution can only be found when we begin to understand that we are creating the problems in our own life because we are not able to comprehend the larger design of our life. We have to go through our experiences and gradually work with all of our circumstances to come to the place where “I” am pleased. When I say “I” am pleased, I am saying, that the God in me is pleased.
We think we know our plans very well, but what is God’s plan? Why does it happen that we propose something, and he disposes? Might it be that God is just trying to tell us, “Look here, I know you want this, but it could bring you great pain, so I don’t want you to have it?”
What I am trying to share with you is this: as you go about living in your family, try talking to God through your heart, through your mind. God’s love for you is unconditional. Even though you don’t see God, there might be some proof that God loves you. If you look, there might be some proof that life is good.
Let’s take the simple fact of breathing. You cannot survive without breathing. You were born into a body, into a universe, that provides you with the ability to breathe. But you don’t acknowledge the generosity of the gift of your breath. Yet the universe keeps providing it abundantly, without condition.
Stop and really look around you, see the beautiful earth, flowers, water, twittering birds. Everything around you is whispering of goodness, revealing the Divine. Connect to that endless beauty; see how glad and happy you are. When you are disconnected, you feel alone.
Becoming more conscious of the gifts of your own body and of the natural beauty of the earth, you start to feel more and more connected to the Divine. You start to create your own thoughts and ideas about this beautiful, expansive divinity that surrounds you all the time. You start to ask, “God, what can I do for you? Should I sit at my altar for 10 hours of meditation”?
If meditating 10 hours a day had been God’s plan for you, God would have pushed you into a monastery to sit for 10 hours with no other responsibilities to bother with. Food would have been provided and you would have a bed in which to sleep. But you are here, in the family. The more you think about it, the more you realize that what God wants from you is to be a very good householder, with all of your family responsibilities. You have hundreds of responsibilities in your workplace. The thing God wants to see is that you handle it all, but first, that you not react. That you not resist.
Through the life you have been given, God is saying to you: “This is the plan that is the most auspicious for your life. Try to flow with it all. Make the very best offering of it that you possibly can. Accept your family, your husband, your wife, your children and your wider family. The more love and feelings of goodness that you share with them, the more you will be filled with divine grace.”
Your family may not recognize your efforts. Your family may not give you words of appreciation for all your sacrifices, your time, your energy, your love, your forgiveness. No. Your family may not give you recognition. But every act of unconditional love, every time you try to serve anyone; it cannot go unregistered in the Universe.
The Universe accepts everything. God accepts everything and keeps it in reserve. When the time is ripe, you can draw on all that has been deposited. You lose nothing. Your family may not have accepted your efforts, but you lose nothing. Your bank balance has grown. Tomorrow you can draw any amount out of it, because your good deeds are there. As you sow, so shall you reap. You have sown the seeds of sacrifice, love, compassion, forgiveness. You have sown the seeds by which the Divine will be pleased. These seeds will definitely grow a seedling tomorrow and gradually grow into a small plant and blossom into flowers.
Whose heart will have the fragrance of all that beauty? It will be yours. Whose mind will be at peace? It will be yours, because it is your mind. Maybe there will be a lot of humming bees wanting a little honey out of your cup. You will give it because you have so much. The beauty of it is that the more honey you give to people, to your family, the more your cup gets filled without your knowledge.
We can take a beautiful flower and talk to the flower. We can take anything from nature and talk to nature. You can talk to your spouse, your child, to anybody, not with the expectation that they will appreciate you or acknowledge how wonderful you are. You are just doing it for them, because you really love it, because you enjoy giving to them. You are not expecting their love or acknowledgement in return. They may acknowledge, but they may not. It is absolutely their freedom. Your freedom is to find peace and joy in serving somebody. True peace and joy come not from what you receive, or expect to receive from your family, your workplace, your school or your friends – it comes from what you give!