Our relationships can bring great joy or great suffering into our lives. Either way, they can affect us on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. We can learn to heal difficult relationships and improve good ones by practicing some of these guidelines:
We were staying at a little hotel near Rome. It fronted on a popular beach where hundreds of Italians came with their families: some swam or lounged on the warm sand, others jogged or walked along the promenade, and still others were there to see and be seen. It was a charming little slice of life. But early each morning when the beach was abandoned, a different scene caught my eye. Around 7:00 a.m. a car would pull into one of the parking slots, and an old woman would get out. Then she would reach into the back for a bag and trudge slowly toward the sand.
She lay in the dust by the side of the road, alone and abandoned in her suffering. Her family had rejected her, and this poor widow had made her way to Brindaban, where an estimated ten thousand elderly, homeless women reside, hoping to find solace in the city blessed by the presence of Lord Krishna.
In medieval times, Damascus steel was famous throughout Europe and the Middle East because it surpassed all other types of steel with its strength and flexibility. Damascus, in southwestern Syria, became a center for the production of highly prized swords and armor. Their specialized steel-making process was one of the great industrial secrets of the times. It turns out, interestingly, that the ability to make this kind of steel probably originated in India, where it is known to have existed as early as 300 BC, and may even go back to the time of the Bhagavad Gita.
Swami Kriyananda was very drawn to places where Mary, the mother of Jesus, has appeared. One of these places, Medjugorje, is a pilgrimage spot for millions. When Swami visited there, he was elderly and unable to walk up the long, steep hill to get to the holy spot where Mary had appeared to the young children. In his chair, he was carried there joyfully by a group of six young men, whom he blessed in return. It was a deep and sacred moment in his life. This is a touching example of Divine Mother’s love in action, but there is an even more beautiful back-story.
Recently a young man asked us, “Why do we do things that we know will make us unhappy, even when we don’t really want to do them?” This is a universal dilemma, and one that brings so much suffering into life!
Today, as I write this, there is a full eclipse of the sun. This rare event happens when the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun. Even though the moon is hundreds of times smaller than the sun, the apparent size of the two bodies seems the same because the moon is so much closer to the earth. During a full eclipse only the corona, the intensely hot outer rim of the sun is visible. Normally, this cannot be seen, but it is as if Divine Mother wants to give us an occasional demonstration of the precision of Her universe.
Paramhansa Yogananda once said, “I used to think Satan was only a human invention, but now I know, and add my testimony to that of all those who have gone before me, that Satan is a reality. He is a universal, conscious force whose sole aim is to keep all beings bound to the wheel of delusion.”
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.