Let’s start with a captivating parable.
There was once a preceptor who asked his disciples:
“Why do people yell at each other while arguing?”
“They lose temper, I suppose,” said one disciple.
“But what’s the point of shouting if the other person stands next to you?” said the preceptor. “Can’t they speak in low voice? Why do people yell in anger?”
The disciples made their suggestions, but all the ideas were not good enough.
Finally the preceptor explained:
“When people quarrel and fight, their hearts drift apart. In order to cover that distance and hear one another, they have to shout. The angrier they are, the louder they shout. Now let’s see what happens when people fall in love. When they speak, they speak in a soft manner. So it’s quite the opposite. Because their hearts are very close, the distance between them is small….
People deeply in love don’t even need to talk,” — continued the sage. “They only whisper and get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper. They only look at each other, and that’s all. They understand each other without words. That is how close people are when they love each other.”
He looked at his disciples and said:
“So when you argue, don’t let your hearts grow apart. Don’t say words that make you distance yourself from one another. Or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.”
The whole philosophy of family relationships is embedded within that story. We make a family to walk life’s pathways together, helping each other in times of need. The Absolute Truth Himself has brought us together and asked to take care of each other. A family is not a sort of progeny-producing farm. It’s a system that enables to make spiritual advancement. If there’s someone who understands us and is ready to lend a helping hand, we stand a chance of going beyond illusion and starting a spiritual life. How good it is when one of the spouses aspires after high cultural and spiritual goals, and the other one supports this effort! Spouses need to have that kind of affinity for each other and keep it throughout life. But what happens when their hearts distance a lot? They simply can’t hear and hence, understand one other. They feel resentment and even indifference. A person with whom you can’t share mutual understanding is no longer a helpmate, but a burden you want to get rid of. There is no question of spiritual support. That kind of relations only makes one very cynical. And who is a cynic? It’s a sage with no love in the heart…
Family relations are intended to teach us yoga of relationships. They are intended to take us to the next level of consciousness and teach universal laws. Living in a family, one can understand principles of relationship with the Absolute Truth Himself. Or one can stoop to the lowest animal-like level. How is that? one may think. It seems like in order to become a sage and a saint one has to renounce everything, quit a family and job and go to the Himalayas. Rather! It is explained in the scriptures that spiritual path is open to those who are full of determination to understand the meaning of life. That’s the only qualification needed. Such a person who hasn’t yet discarded bad habits but struggles to shake them off, can also be considered a sage. The path of purification cleanses us from the very outset. And there’s nothing to prevent us from following this path, as we perform our family duties.