Choose Your Company Wisely
Sometimes events that are quite uncomfortable to go through can help us to grow. This article is inspired by recent events and feelings that unfolded in my life. I am a young seeker and I enjoy the company of other people my own age, some of like mind, some very different.
Do you believe we meet certain people to teach us something? And if so, is it the people themselves teaching us or the Creator himself? I would think and hope it to be the latter, as everything is in his power and is subject to his will, isn’t it? Even if situations end negatively, there are useful lessons to be learned. Out of something seemingly negative, positivity can come, if we choose to see it. I’ve read in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I:
Whatever we have sown in the past, we are reaping some of the results now. So we have certain karmic relationships with our mother, father, wife, daughter, son, friends, associates, country and the like. Those karmas have resulted in our birth in this particular body and at this particular time. We have to fulfil all the karmas, the destiny allotted to this life. You cannot escape from your karmas.
So every relationship we encounter in life is the basis of settling our karmic account, nothing more or less. Day in, day out, this is all that each and every one of us is experiencing. However, even when we’re faced with what we interpret as bad karma, the divine is present, and does help, should we choose to be open and ready to see. All we need to do is learn to trust our Master and trust the intuition that is given to us when we put our faith in him.
I guess when we mix in a varied group of young people, we are bound to explore each other’s different beliefs. My strategy is to listen and be tolerant and to respect other people’s different perspectives. But of course it’s not just about listening. Sooner or later there comes the desire to share one’s own beliefs. So, what if the other person just doesn’t appreciate the things you value – or he or she even criticizes? In this situation recently, I turned to the Sant Mat literature again and found the following good advice in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
Why should you be touchy about their remarks? Why should we be touchy? Let them say whatever they feel like. They’ve every right to comment and you have every right to reserve your judgment. Don’t be affected by what they say. As Great Master often said, you can’t pick up the thorns of the world but you can definitely wear shoes. You can’t make them quiet, but definitely you can be indifferent to what they say.
Maharaj Charan Singh elaborates:
We have to rise above public opinion. It shouldn’t bother us. When I know there is a horse before me, even if the whole world says it is a donkey, it doesn’t bother me. I am convinced from within myself that it is a horse. There’s no sense in my arguing and trying to convince anybody that it is a horse, not a donkey. Let them say what they like – why bother with them?
Upon reading the two quotes above it is clear that we need to try to cultivate a strong and positive mind. I realize that this might be harder for those who are by nature sensitive and prone to think and feel deeply. However, if we don’t try to adjust our attitude in this situation it can affect our health and well-being. The way forward, for those who have been initiated, would be simran, and for others hoping to follow the path in future, perhaps it’s simply trying to remember the Master and his strong and happy approach to life.
Whilst we can’t expect other people to think in the same way as we do, I think we can and should at least expect them to respect us. If that respect is not there, then our sense of discrimination should tell us to avoid them. The same is true if our ‘moral compass’ – that still, small voice inside us – tells us that we are making a friend of someone whose lifestyle is unpleasant or vicious.
After beginning an interesting friendship recently, I found myself in just that situation. After much analysis, I had to admit that my ‘friend’ was making me increasingly anxious and conflicted. Something was clearly not right and it had to be addressed. Maharaj Charan Singh writes in a letter in Quest for Light:
Try to live according to Sant Mat principles, sticking to the diet prescribed and avoiding all undesirable company. The company we keep has a great effect on our general way of life.
He also explains in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol III:
You can judge within yourself whether the person is worth your company or not, but you may not criticize him. You can avoid him.… If you think he’s not worthy of your company, avoid him. The idea is to keep good company from a meditation point of view. If you find certain company not conducive to meditation, naturally you have no option but to avoid it. If you don’t find a person’s company helpful for meditation or he otherwise has tried to exploit or misuse you, naturally what can you do except avoid him?
So what did I end up doing? I assure you my story does end with a big positive. I ended the association, feeling a great sense of relief and as if a big weight had been lifted. Clearly the correct decision! Coming out of the situation ignited in me a new sense of self-respect. I was grateful for all the understanding I had gained from reading the Sant Mat literature and it made my faith in the path stronger. I realized that the acceptance I need is not from the world at large but from myself, based upon what I know the Master wants for us. As a result, I have now applied for initiation, thankful that some dark days led in the end to an unexpected blessing.
Anything which turns our attention towards the Father, reminds us of the Father, reminds us of our home and pulls us towards our home is a blessing.… Anything which keeps us away from him is not his blessing. In that light, you can yourself weigh what is a blessing and what is not a blessing, from a Sant Mat point of view.
Spiritual Perspectives,Vol. III
If you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective. Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you.
Anthony de Mello, in The Lion Christian Quotation Collection