A friend wrote recently asking for advice about problems at work. His job is in a competitive environment where others disrupt the harmony, compete in unfair ways, and take credit for work they haven’t done themselves. While this was expressed as a personal problem, it is in fact a nearly universal experience, to be found in families, governments, and, indeed, in groups everywhere. I tried to answer his question on two levels, first from the level of ego, and then from the spiritual, soul level.
At the level of the ego, there will always be clashes of this sort. The less evolved people are spiritually—or, stated another way, the more attached they are to their egos—the more they will try to pump themselves up even at the expense of others. They are seeking to bolster their own worth, and will continue to do so as long as they feel the need to inflate their egos, which are inherently vulnerable.
Group dynamics get particularly tricky because, with people at different levels of maturity, the clashing of egos can get particularly turbulent. It is useless to expect others to be more mature than they are so that they fit better into the pattern of your own expectations. At the level of mass karma, such as nations have, generally the best we can do is to choose our battles and strictly monitor our own behavior to make sure it is righteous. Use common sense and do what seems appropriate, but don’t become overly attached to the results. If you base your well-being on unrealistic hopes, you are destined to trod a long, muddy road of frustration and anger.
Now, from the level of the soul: Spiritual progress might be defined as the soul becoming detached from the delusion of separation from God. We should embrace whatever helps us accomplish that goal even though it may feel unpleasant. God creates an enormously entrancing drama, with grand scenes of good and bad, victories and losses. Our job is to take the road less traveled: to choose resolutely that pathway which leads away from ego and toward soul freedom. Here are some tools:
1) Meditate: Without meditation, the soul continues to be caught by the outward, downward-pulling magnetism of the world.
2) Pray to God and Gurus to guide your reason, will, and actions to the right path in everything.
3) In a calm state, try to awaken your intuition, your soul’s intelligence. It is your surest guide. The longer and more deeply you can keep your focus at the spiritual eye, the more the right answers will come.
4) Always act with complete sincerity and truthfulness. This will enlist the laws of dharma to empower your actions. If you are selfish, unkind, or adharmic you will lose this power.
5) Read Swami Kriyananda’s short book, Sadhu, Beware!, where he gives many helpful hints on overcoming the ego.
Finally, be content with your circumstances. Happiness or unhappiness is a series of choices that you make every day. If we understand, as Paramhansa Yogananda said, that “this world was made for our entertainment and education,” then we can see that everything is, in one way or another, an expression of God’s love.
In divine friendship,