Family conflict --
Me, Myself and the Others

In conversation with Nalin K. Nirula and Renoo Nirula

Family conflictWe received a series of family conflict e-mails from a troubled soul who was having relationship issues with some of her family. Shanaya had been given the responsibility of maintaining a family property in the hills, and had been doing a very good job of it. Some of the family members had been criticizing her for not doing a timely job because they needed to visit there with friends and some maintenance work was pending.

The delay was due to no fault of Shanaya's. Some unpleasant things were said, some aspersions cast, and she resigned her position as caretaker of the property. Obviously she found the lack of understanding painful and troubling.

We wrote back advising her not to resign her responsibility, while giving her specific guidance, and she responded with a changed mood. The darkness having lifted, Shanaya went back to her caretaker responsibilities with the support of the family. We were happy to have been able to help her.

What does it mean--"The Divine in others"?
A student of vedanta philosophy, Shanaya sought to understand this relationship issue in the context of what she had been studying.

"I am wondering... and wandering. I keep reading in the Gita and in discourses about it, and generally in what saints and gurus have said that one should recognize the divinity in other beings. Sometimes I find it very hard. And sometimes downright impossible. Please guide me--Shanaya."

"Does God, or the Divine, create our life situations?"
We see that situations coming at us to deal with come from my accumulated balance of action or karma from the past. The karmic balance being delivered to me is through the agency of the witnessing Divine. The Divine is not an initiator of such actions, but only reminds us that we had called for this in the past.

When we become aware of the divinity within us, only then can we effectively see the divine in others, even in a family conflict. If I do not have something which is 'divine' within--why will I see it in others?

  • I can only see in others of that which I have a reference sample within. I cannot recognize what I do not already see.
  • The divinity is present in all but not visibly active. In any situation if we connect with the divine within ourselves and inside the other we can connect with the truth of our relationships.
  • Becoming aware of the divinity within requires a systematic effort at revealing the hidden Divine. For this, spiritual connection, empowerment, study and practice is needed.

Our divine element within is easy to recognize
However we can immediately understand that there is a divine or eternal part of ourselves by considering the fact of our consciousness--self-awareness.

  • While the physical components and cells of our body are constantly changing, our self-identification awareness remains constant through our life.
  • The unchanging nature of our self-identity arises from a source of this quality--which in turn must also have the quality of changeless-ness or constancy, or immortality. This is the 'soul', 'atma' or spirit, life-force and so on. (For a more detailed understanding of this go here.)

Who is responsible for what we do?
In terms of responsibility, the actions of the divine are not one with the individual, but always separate and unconnected with what the individual does.

Our actions are not the responsibility of the divine, but solely our own. The Divine guides us according to our karma, but we have the choice of action and thus the results of our actions must and do come back to us. This is the physics and law of karma.

If the Divine is in all then are all the Divine?
So even an animal--a dog, has the divine element in it but we cannot assume that the dog or individual is 'as good as the divine' because the divine chooses to live with that individual. That is only the grace of the divine.

'Dog' is not 'God' spelt backwards
If the dog bites us, we cannot say that the Divine is 'responsible'. The Divine is guiding the animal to deliver us the stored results of our karma--just as He is guiding us to be placed to receive it.

  • Then again, the Divine is also guiding us what we can do to mitigate our suffering and heal our karmic balance. The difference between man and animal is that we have the capacity to understand this while the animal does not.
  • Our lack of sukriti (pious activity), a shortage of pure spiritual karmic bank balance (super karma), and an active false ego prevents us from accessing this higher wisdom.

Seeing the divine in myself and others is freedom
Me, my higher self, and the other person even in the family conflict situation--we are all connected through the divine element that is present everywhere. As much as we can change our hazy vision, that much we are able to connect with the divine within ourselves and others.

By connecting with the divine in this way, we start to become free from mental and emotional pain. This is the first benefit.

A clear mind allow us to acknowledge reality
Being free of pain gives a clear mind where ego factors are not coloring our vision.

This allows us to see reality without rejecting it. When we are able to acknowledge that as there is a divine element within us, we can see that the other also has a divine element within. This realization calms us, connects us with the other in equality, and allows us to deal successfully with issues facing us without the baggage of blame and hurt.

  • If we do this well, connecting to the essence of goodness within ourselves and the other in any family conflict then there is no residue of pain or discomfort carried forward into our tomorrows. Our daily experience is improved and we are that much in awareness of the blessings of the Divine that are always with us.

Being aware of this makes for a daily experience of happiness and joy.

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