- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
Family life can often seem like a never-ending obstacle course. Potential stumbling blocks dominate the landscape; work, household matters, social obligations and paying the bills can easily become impediments to our spiritual development. In this age, a time of quarrel, tension, and stress, our personal relationships are often the hardest part of all, and fulfilling the dream of a happy home can seem impossible. Even competent and successful people can find the simplest domestic problems insurmountable. How does introducing Krishna into our family change things?
This world has been labelled a ‘river of names’. Family relationships are likened to pieces of straw that randomly come together in the waves, only to disperse downstream and go their separate ways. We are only together for a short time. But does this mean that we reject all relationships as meaningless and inconsequential? Are family and friends a hindrance to our spirituality? Does affection for others reinforce the illusory concept of life?
Not necessarily. The people around us, namely parents, siblings, spouse, children and friends are not there by chance. Whatever the pleasures or tensions, these dynamics have been arranged by Krishna as an opportunity to strengthen our devotion, build our character and bring us closer to Him. A devotee should see his family members and friends as eternal souls whom he can support on the journey back to Krishna. A family that prays together stays together. A family that dances together advances together. A family that sings together clings together.
Also serving our family members by seeing them as parts and parcels of Krsna helps us do our family affairs properly in Bhakti. The Women Life Guides Section of this website has many articles to deal with our duties in this way.
To mediate family relationships we have to exercise tolerance, humility and appreciation. When someone’s actions anger you, try to understand the cause of their behavior and the underlying needs and issues. When someone falls short of your expectations, try to reassess the legitimacy of your demands and simultaneously appreciate whatever efforts they have made. When there is conflict, instead of running away in frustration and creating emotional distance, discipline yourself to communicate and take initiative to resolve differences. It can be awkward and humbling, but it’s good to talk.
But what to do when family and friends actively impede our spirituality? Be patient. Empathies with their concerns and sensitively explain your perspective. Be open to dialogue and show a willingness to understand, but simultaneously remain committed and faithful to your spiritual practices. Be assured that nothing can obstruct your spiritual progress if you are sincere and determined. Nobody can interfere with your inner journey. The challenges of any particular circumstance are ultimately designed to bring us closer to Krishna. We only have to learn how.