You & I, The Joy of Togetherness
Through the ages, people have been unhappy in their relationships. Speak to any father, he complains about his children. Speak to any husband or any wife, they have complaints for each other. As long as they are being diplomatic, they will keep up a very sound face, a beaming smile and a false story to explain their happiness. We are happy to live in delusions and we are happier when we present these delusions as reality to others.
Try to understand that the whole idea of a relationship begins from that point when you have already established a sound, beautiful and dynamic rapport with your own self. Isn’t it a joke that we are bothered about others but we are not worried about our own self? We often ask as to how can I have a healthy relationship with others; but the question should be how can I have a sound relationship with myself. A person who is himself lost cannot give directions to others. Our society and our family – all have been leading an ignorant life. They themselves have been stumbling.
Ask any parent, did they plan their baby? Were they emotionally, psychologically ready for this new system, a new person in their life? Were they ready to be a vehicle to bring a new soul on this earth, to give birth to a new body, to give birth to a new life, to be engaged for a wandering soul to start a new journey? Ninety nine per cent of the answers will be that children are born unplanned.
Children are just happening to the parents and now because they are pregnant, they must give birth to the child. They must rear the child and they must provide a sound family system according to their own understanding. The issue is really very important, and I wish to take your attention on this as no one ever has guided you on these lines. Before you think of others, think of yourself.
Let me quote Jesus Christ on this, ’the other is hell’, when you say other, it is going to be hell. Why? Because if you don’t understand your own self, you will not be able understand anyone who is around you. There will be elements around you who are foreign to you, who are different from you, who have their own entity, with whom you have to build a relationship that can be a friendly one or filled with prejudices and hatred.
The basic thing is that for the person who has known the real self, the term “other” no longer exists; there is no one other left. Whoever he sees, talks to, meets, communicates, that person will never be the other, as every other person has now become his/her own reflection. If you stand in front of a mirror, you see your own face. What do you see, when you look into people’s eyes? In first place, you must have that deep-rooted, communicative eye to look at the other person.
As you are hiding your own true self and living a false life, so is the other person. So, these two false personalities will never gel, will never have a communion, and will never have a heart-to-heart relationship. What they will have is just a communication and in these times of great scientific inventions, we don’t have to be in front of one another, e-mail will do all the work and SMS will do the rest.
You start your day with a “Good Morning” and the next sentence which comes out of your mouth is a “Bye” because you have to run to achieve your own goals and your ambitions and the other person too is busy with his own objectives. In this scenario, who has the time to communicate?
The need is to understand that till the time you are not deeply involved with your own inner being, unless you are not established in your own true identity, unless you don’t know who you really are, how can you enjoy? No one enjoys one’s own company – that’s why we are always looking for a friend, for someone on whom we can release our tensions and pressures. You need to talk all the time, you need a shoulder upon which you can cry, you need a set of ears in which you can fill up all of your mind’s garbage.
Now, if you can’t enjoy your own company, you cannot be a good company to others either. The day you enjoy your own presence, the need of “others” ends. In a way, the need of being in any relationship also will end. When this stage comes, that is the time when you are appropriately ready and groomed to be in a relationship.
When you are seeking a relationship, at that time, you are a beggar and beggars cannot be givers. When two beggars sit together none of them will become rich: zero plus zero is always going to be a zero. If you are a beggar because you were seeking happiness from the other and the other has come to you with the same expectation, there is bound to be a clash.
This clash comes out in open after some time, not on the same day, not in the first meeting, but later. In the first meeting, there is hope, there are great expectations that a golden future is ahead in this relationship. Parents are always expecting from their children, that the day they will grow up, the day they will have great jobs, that will be our happiest day. Parents dream that their child will become a professor, a great entrepreneur, a successful professional.
The child is already living the parent’s dream and is already expecting that all of the father’s hard-earned money will come to him only. So, there is no need to work hard because father has good connections in the political circle and has a great status in society. So, we already have enough money and I can just float on the glories of my father or my mother.
Children are looking at their parents, and parents are looking and dreaming a golden future for their children. The wife and the husband also have similar dreams. We expect a lot from others. Moreover, we want others to change for us. Here is the root cause of all the confrontation in a relationship. We expect so much from others that they cannot deliver and once that happens, we start complaining. There is an agenda to change this person for our good but the other person too has his own ego. Why would he or she change for you and this is the reason why we all live a frustrated life.
This question begs to be asked: Why are we unhappy? In a way, man cannot live without a relationship because this human being comes to this earth from a relationship. Man and woman meet to give birth to a child. And your relationship starts right from very early days. The moment you come out of the mother’s womb, you are nurtured, you are given all the love and affection and the care and from here the whole story of relationship starts.
But the basic issue on which I want to emphasise is that the man and the woman who brought you, to come to this earth, they themselves had no training. Thus, they never gave you the training. You have always seen them asking, expecting from others and that is what you have got and now this is what you are practicing.
The best relationships in your life are always the ones in which you are not expecting anything. On the contrary, you are ready to deliver something to others. Even when we begin a spiritual life, this relationship with God again is the ulterior motive. We want God to bless us; we want God to fulfill our desires. It is again not on the basis of love.
Sufis say, ‘God will never appear to those who will seek Him, and for those who will not seek, God will never be available to them.’ The moral of the story is that as long as you are desperate to know God, you will not know Him because you have an ulterior motive and God is allergic to it. So, as long as you have a desire to get enlightened, Rinzai, the famous Zen master says, you will never be. So as long as you wish to get awakened, your wish will be an obstacle.
One of the monks wrote that for twenty years he kept on meditating, serving his master and working on the koans which Rinzai would give. He would spend sleepless nights, meditate for more than fifteen hours a day and constantly ask his master, when would he get awakened? And as the Zen masters are known for giving spontaneous weird answers, every time Rinzai would whack him. But after twenty years, a day came when he became relaxed and meditated for the sake of meditating and not for the sake of getting enlightened. Days passed, spring came and the trees were laden with flowers. One night while meditating under these blossoming trees when there was fragrance in the air, he was enjoying every moment of his meditation. He was not seeking anything, not even enlightenment and he got awakened.
Next day, he went to his master, bowed and he had just one question: “When I was desperate, when I would bother you with my questions, to teach me the way, let me know what the trick is, what should I do to break my slumber of ignorance and you would just whack me and last night I was blessed. What was the reason? I don’t know. You were the reason, I don’t know. I was the reason, I don’t know, but something happened, something dawned upon me.” Rinzai said to his dear disciple that last night when you were meditating, that was the time when you could truly meditate without thinking of enlightenment, without worrying about even your master, without worrying about why am I not blessing you and opening the gates of enlightenment for you – and being in that moment, the magic happened.
The relationship with your own spirituality is also laced with selfishness as you want to be happy, you want peace, and you want to have those ecstatic moments which you are reading in the books and scriptures. You become greedy and you want all those good things happening to you, and you want Samadhi too. Remember, beggars cannot be the givers. And in any sound relationship you have to be a giver. When it is the question of children, parents should accept that they have been blessed by nature, by God, to experience, how this human body comes into being, the wonder of seeing the baby, the wonder of seeing the baby growing from a toddler to an adult, from a child who is always pestering his mother and father for toys and milk, growing up to be an adult.
Parents should be thankful for being given an opportunity. And I think it is an important job which should be handed over only to sensible people, not to those who say that children happen because of an accident or we just got pregnant. I don’t think that every man and woman should be given a right to be a parent until and unless they are trained to become one. Every parent should be trained, well-equipped to live their life in a better and balanced manner. When they bring forth a child in their family, they should be able to guide this child on how to develop a sound and healthy relationship.
The mother has to learn to be a mother; the father has to learn to be a father. We have great examples. Shvetaketu (son of sage Uddalaka) goes to his father and tells him that since he is a Brahmin he should have the right to sit with him, when the latter goes out to the assemblies. And when his father informs him that he is not a Brahmin but a shudra, he is shocked!
The father explains that just because he is born of him, the son doesn’t become a Brahmin. The day Shvetaketu will realise Brahman, will be the day when he will be given the legitimate certificate to be called as a Brahmin. For now, he is just a shudra. And a shudra is the one whose attachment is with this body of flesh and bones. If you identify just with this mortal human body, if you don’t know who you really are, then you cannot be called a Brahmin, and you’ll have to work hard to get to the point when you can actually be called a Brahmin. Here, the father is giving an opportunity and the right guidelines to his son to be an able, an independent, and a sound person.
The relationships become wondrous when you are already happy with yourself, when you are not seeking something from anyone, when you are there to share your insight, when you are there to share your limelight with others. Then you yourself become a beacon of great knowledge. That’s the time when you can be perfect in any relationship, as a husband, a wife, a child, a mother, a father, a friend; and even as an enemy. I would like to give an example of Sri Krishna.
When Shishupal was abusing him in the royal court, Sri Krishna was listening to every abuse attentively as if Shishupal was giving a great discourse. Arjun and other Pandavas were, however, getting upset and furious. They wanted to kill Shishupal right at that spot but Sri Krishna was simply smiling. Then Sri Krishna said that he had told his aunt that he would pardon hundred mistakes done by Shishupal. These are the hundred mistakes which he has allowed Shishupal and had even warned him about them. He kept on counting them, enjoying every bit of those abuses. How can anyone enjoy the abuses? See the life of Sri Krishna, who is enjoying abuses as well.
Bulleh Shah comes very close to this. One day, someone approached Bulleh Shah and said, ‘your Guru is a thief’. Bulleh Shah agreed with that person, saying that yes, his Guru is a thief because he stole his heart! Indeed, he is a thief and its good for you that you have known it. For this kind of a person, an abuse is really not an abuse. But this man who approached Bulleh Shah became angrier. So he abused Bulleh Shah, saying that he was equal to a dog. Bulleh Shah replied that this too was true. “This is what I am trying to be with my master, a dog at his door,” he said.
“Pray for me that one day I successfully become a dog. You don’t know what greatness a dog has. The dog sits at his master’s door, and even if the master kicks him, he still licks his master’s feet and I have to learn this tolerance and this love from the dog that even if my master kicks me, punches me, I have to be still there, right there at the door because master is the way and will be the gate for me and the master will be the reason for me to dissolve my false ego and recognise my own true self.”
And the day you have recognised your own true self, then that will be the day when you can live in any relationship with the best means, modes and tools. In reality, the day you learn to be successful in any relationship is the day when you actually get your graduation and you reach the upper level where you come out of all relationships and transcend even the boundaries of being in a relationship. That is the day when you become a perfect human being. Until and unless you have experienced any relationship and learnt to be rightfully in a relationship, you can never come out of relationships.
King Janaka and Sukhdev were having this beautiful dialogue and Sukhdev was talking about dispassion, detachment and how the world was an illusion. He was speaking about how only self is the truth and brahman is the only existential reality – everything else is just a mirage, an illusion. And suddenly they hear people shouting “Fire! Fire!” They both turned to look towards the direction from where the people were shouting and saw flames leaping up into the sky – the entire city of Janakpur, the kingdom of King Janaka, was burning, his palace was burning, and all the houses around the palace were burning. Janaka just looked in that direction. He wanted to continue his discussion with Sukhdev but Sukhdev started to flee towards the city. Janaka cried out from behind, “Where are you going?” Sukhdev replied that he was rushing to the palace. “My langoti is lying there and I have only one. I left my scriptures over there; my precious books are over there.”
At this, Janaka shouted, “You shameful man, come back! My whole palace is burning and here I am sitting with you undisturbed and want to continue this discussion on brahman vidya and there you go running for your langoti.” This is a practical lesson from Janaka – you can be a true sanyasi (a person who has renounced) and still be in a relationship even while living in a palace, and you can be a truly possessive person even while living in a jungle.
So, how should you live in a society, in a family and still act as if no one is yours? On the other hand, how should you relate with others as if everyone is yours? When you look in someone’s eyes, then make sure that you look deep enough and if you look deep enough then your own reflection will be seen in that person’s eye. In whom you are being reflected, how can you hate that person now that he is your own self because the breath that you exhale that person inhales; the breath that person exhales, you inhale. You are sharing the air, you are sharing the earth, you are sharing the space with people but to share everything properly, you need to be in your true element. And your true element can be realised only when you don’t exist anymore.
With the annihilation of your ego and the end of this false self, your true self shines forth. When you are in your true self, you are in the right position to have a sound relationship with anyone from human beings to animals. Then you don’t have to do anything to love anyone because then love emanates from you, love oozes out from you. You don’t have to think of speaking sweet words; this sweetness simply and without effort comes out from within you. And when you don’t consciously do anything for others, then wherever you go, the flowers will bloom, the cuckoos will sing and the joyousness will follow you like a shadow. Wherever you are, you will spread such freshness that everyone would want to be with you.
Now even your wife is looking for a divorce – even for a while. Well, going for two hours of shopping is a brief divorce – she will complain that you don’t give her enough time, that you are so busy with your office work, that you don’t pay attention to her and the day you are at home she will look for reasons, why you are not going out, and suggest that you go and play golf. You don’t have anything else to do now? This is happening because you don’t know how to live your life. And you don’t know it because you were never trained. Who will train you? A master will train you. Who is this master? Whosoever gives you this insight becomes your master, you don’t have to follow some rituals to be called Guru and Shishya.
From whosoever you learn, from whosoever you gain and whosoever becomes your living inspiration, the transformation happens gradually and silently that even you won’t know, but the change is there. And you will be the last person to admit that the change has happened. People around you will be the living evidence that you have already changed and they will be asking you what has happened to you that you are no longer the same person. This is the best way to know whether a change has come in you or not. But what happens is that we normally boast that we are great spiritual people, we go on certifying ourselves that we are great yoga enthusiasts and credit ourselves that we are great Sufi lovers. Know this that when you have to put a claim on something, this means that something is wrong. Else there is no need to claim, why should you claim?
You have to be a complete person to become an embodiment of love. And then you will attract people. Then you don’t have to run for the people’s attention. Now you are doing everything to get attention – someone should notice your dress, your way of talking, everything. You want to be in a place where people will take notice of you. You go to parties to get noticed. This hunger to get noticed shows that you are incomplete.
Remember, an incomplete person cannot ever live a sound and perfect relationship. The best relationships in your life are always the ones in which you are not expecting anything. On the contrary, you are ready to deliver something to others. Remember, beggars cannot be the givers. And in any sound relationship, you have to be a giver.