Study of my own life for memoir composition remains in my writing tool kit. As Socrates averred, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Loss and Losing
The loss of a loved one preys on the mind and heart. If the loss is the result of death, we mourn for a period of time then feel relieved that the soul of that person still exists on a different level of being, perhaps even anticipating reuniting with that individual in some future incarnation. During this time of loss, we turn to our faith, to our Creator because only a higher Power can assuage the pain we feel with such a loss.
If, on the other hand, the loss is through the deterioration of a relationship, the heart continues to hold hope that a reconciliation might occur. Though we may disagree with decisions made by loved ones, we can still love them and wish them well. And we may wish that those loved ones would do the same with us. However, that mutual love and respect do not always exist between human beings—even between family members. Despite our best efforts, we cannot be responsible for how our fellow family members feel and behave. Sometimes loving them and leaving them to their own devices is all we can do.
Agreeing to Disagree
It is true that reconciliation might become impossible in some circumstances. For example, if your friend or relative does not approve of your choice of living room furniture, you can probably retain your relationship. You can even heap on many more divergences of this kind and still remain friendly. However, if your friend takes up a vegetarian lifestyle or begins practicing a religion you do not understand, it is not likely that your friendship will continue, unless you remain open-minded enough to at least make an effort to understand why your friend has made those odd choices.
The very least the meat-consuming atheist and the religious vegetarian must do to continue a friendly relationship is agree to disagree. If you take every opportunity to ridicule your friend for her choices, it is likely that she will end her friendship with you, as well she should. She is an individual soul, not beholden to you for anything. How she lives, what she eats, how she worships—all are plainly none of your business, and making your friend’s (or relative’s) choice the butt of your complaints can only harm your relationship—nay more like to end that relationship.
The greatest enemy of a harmonious relationship is willful misunderstanding. When one person deliberately assigns false meaning to the values of the other, perhaps to shore up her own position and stroke her own ego, it becomes likely that that relationship might have to end. If one does not attempt to understand the different values and/or behavior of the other and then continues to oppress the other with ridicule and attitudes of superiority, again there might be no other solution than ending the relationship.
Along with lifestyle and religious choice, political choices might also figure into this equation. Currently, political figures like to shore up their stances by condemning their own country for remaining "divided." But because of the nature of politics, along with the fact that two major political divisions exist, the citizens of the nation will naturally remain "divided." They may unite under certain short-term circumstances such as a war or some other outside influence, but divided they will always remain because a citizenry does not and cannot be expected to all think alike. Only dangerous demagogues touting a totalitarian, statist ideology believe that the citizens on a nation should all think and behave alike or face re-education camps.
We are not made to be doormats. If a person does not accept our values, we can understand that, but we cannot accept a relationship wherein we become the constant target of sarcasm directed at our most cherished values. If a person has taken a wrong turn—in life or even in driving—it does not put her on the right course to belittle her choice. You simply need to show her where the turn was wrong. In order to do that, you must know where the correct turn is and then share that information with her. If the person you have properly corrected prefers the wrong choice, then you have to decide if you can live with it or not. If not, then you leave that person to her course and go your own way.
We should try to correct others, only if they ask for our thoughts or advice. We have no right to barge into the life another with our own ideas. To a person, we all hate busy bodies who seem to be nothing but a bundle of criticism, constantly finding fault with everything they encounter. Thus, we must leave others to their own ideas and beliefs, unless they ask for our advice. If they ask, and we offer, and they take offense, then we know they were likely just baiting us, and rethinking that relationship becomes necessary.
Sometimes we get bogged down, even lost, in details; many times the kind of language we use separates us from other people. But ultimately the deterioration of a relationship can be blamed on selfishness—the kind of selfishness that seeks sense gratification and ego aggrandizement. If we believe that our main goal in life is to seek sense pleasures and ego stroking, we will show little or no regard to others. It becomes our duty to get what we want regardless of the effect on other people. Such a selfish attitude arises from the belief that a human being is little more than a body that dies, after having lived one lifetime. If that were the case, there would be no need to live moral life: why bother sacrificing for the sake of others if we just die anyway, no matter how we behaved?
That pessimistic view comes from the lack of awareness of two important concepts: karma and reincarnation. The law of karma, sowing and reaping, operates with precision, despite the fact that one may boldly claim, "I don’t believe in karma." Like gravity, that law operates with or without human acceptance or knowledge of the law. Thus, what we do will always have consequences. We cannot escape the results of our acts. Thus, the old expression, "live by the sword, die by the sword."
However, the sharp minded will pipe up, "but what it I die before I die by the sword." Karma has no expiration date; like murder in the American justice system, there is no statute of limitations placed on karma. If you commit some act that will require that you correct that act, but you die before you can correct it, you will return to the planet on which that correction is required, that is, you will reincarnate until you can correct your faulty behavior.
Paramahansa Yogananda: One Life Versus Reincarnation
Two Classes of Humanity
Humanity can be divided into two distinct classes: those who seek to realize the true self and those who seek the false goals of ego aggrandizement. It should be abundantly clear that the latter leads to torment, while the former leads to peace, wisdom, and bliss. According to Sri Yukteswar, guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, "Humanity - so variegated in its own eyes! — is seen by a master to be divided into only two classes: ignorant men who are not seeking God, and wise men who are."
We can acquire large quantities of money, which affords sense pleasures, and wide-spread fame, which strokes the ego, and still be so miserable that we are driven to suicide. Many wealthy, famous persons commit suicide. Nothing of material value lasts; only spiritual values last, including love, affection, respect, integrity, and willingness to improve behavior and one’s lot in life.
Along with much "musing," I consider this musing’s ultimate purpose a supplication or "Prayer for Deliverance." The Divine Reality knows when our hearts are troubled, and if we truly demand of that Reality (God) a balm for that pain, He gives it. By writing these thoughts, I am in the act of praying—that is, demanding from God—that balm.
If you do not believe in God—yet somehow you managed to keep reading this piece—you may substitute "Conscience" or "Truth" for God and for "praying" you may substitute "seeking." So this is my prayer for deliverance for myself and all of you who have experienced pain owing to the death of a loved one or a lost relationship with a loved one. Included in my musing and prayer is the following original poem that also functions as prayer of gratitude.
Original Poem: "These Fish"
Deliverance from pain and sorrow ultimately requires removing the mind from the source of that pain and sorrow and placing it on some other thought. Often that other thought may a simple scene from one’s past, a scene that offers a capture of serene beauty, of lively colors that move the mind and inspire the soul with some deeply held truth.
After having observed the torture of fish for a number of years during my childhood and teens years, I am always moved by seeing those beautiful creatures loved and their lives respected and cared for. Such care is afforded the fish in the little fish ponds on the grounds of Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens in Encinitas CA. They swim peacefully, live out their lives, and die a natural death, as their Creator cares for them through the instrumentality of the monks and nuns who tend them.
These fish swim
Until the Divine
They catch the eye
Of each visitor
Their pond does dwell
Where flowers swell.
Bless all in a bliss garden
Of tranquil concentration.
These fish swim
Until the Divine
The poem, "These Fish," represents an example of the act of removing the mind from a damaging thought to an inspiring one. It is an inspiration that those fish receive such loving care from their caretakers.
If you take nothing else from this musing, please take this simple experiment: when suffering pain and sorrow, remove the mind from the source of that suffering, and place it on some source of pleasure. Keep repeating that effort until it takes root in your consciousness and affords you the deliverance you are seeking.
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes