Developing Harmonious Relationships with Close Family, Friends and Associates

Even among those closest to one another, there remain differences of habit and temperament. Issues of personal grooming, dietary choices, choices in music or other media interactions, time commitments, interactions about caring for the common shared space all work to create minor daily irritations or even conflicts. Add to this interpersonal differences in intimate relationships and comfort within one’s own personal space and it is easy to see that achieving and maintaining harmony in relationships requires both constant awareness and a willingness to accept differences with equanimity.

Starting from the personal, ego-centric view of things, we naturally start from an assumption that our own particular way of understanding and acting is the “right” way and thus, the other person needs to change. Similarly, our expectations and desires are considered to be primary and need to be responded to. In reality, the idea of expecting another person to change to conform to one’s own views or expectations on all these details is unrealistic. Thus, it is important to cultivate a different outlook that both accepts the fact and the reality of the differences, and does so with an equal mind that focuses on the positive aspects that can bring people together rather than on the negative aspects that create the irritation or disharmony.

Carrying anger or irritation around is also not healthy. For a spiritual seeker, it certainly disturbs the mind-stuff, the emotions, and the nerve-sheath and if it gets to any extreme manifestations, can impact the physical health and well-being of the individual. This is also true for those not actively practicing a spiritual discipline, although they may treat these things as part of the normal life and thus not react to them internally as something to be modified within themselves.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Those one lives with have always some ways and manners that do not agree with one’s own and may grate on the mind. To observe quietly and not resent is part of the discipline in life. Not to be moved or affected at all but to see with equanimity the play of one Nature in all is the discipline of sadhana.”

“I would suggest that in your relations with others, — which seem always to have been full of disharmony, — when incidents occur, it would be much better for you not to take the standpoint that you are all in the right and they are all in the wrong. It would be wiser to be fair and just in reflection, seeing where you have gone astray, and even laying stress on your own fault and not on theirs. This would probably lead to more harmony in your relations with others; at any rate, it would be more conducive to your inner progress, which is more important than to be the top-dog-in a quarrel.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 11, Human Relationships in Yoga, Harmony with Others, pp. 339-342

1 thought on “Developing Harmonious Relationships with Close Family, Friends and Associates

  1. I’m forwarding this Adyashanti quote for your consideration to share. It resurfaced from my archives, just this morning. It holds deep meaning, personally. It is more of an expansion of the subject being addressed by Sri Aurobindo, herein, than it is an exact match to it. In light of this, I understand if you feel to not publish it. Also, if you prefer to not include ‘teachings’ from other than Aurobindo, on this page, please advise and excuse my lapse in properly interpreting your intent. Respectfully, I offer:

    “The desire to be part of the family tribe can be very strong. The problem here is with the “unhealthy attachment to” and “identification with” the family tribe. Given each person’s makeup, we all have our own particular way that illusion keeps its hold on us. Just as children need to leave home (which is much more than simply moving out) in order to truly grow up, so too parents need to leave behind living their lives through their children. Everyone needs to grow up, to individuate and not remain enmeshed within the dysfunction of the family tribe. If the enmeshment is profound, you will encounter great resistance in transforming it. Being a mother, it is good to utilize the natural love that you have for your children in order to do what is healthy and loving for all. At this point in your life you belong in your life, not enmeshed in theirs. It is one thing to be a loving presence in the lives of others, while quite something different to be enmeshed in their lives. The challenge for you is that you will be leaving behind a familiar identity—an identity founded upon your identification with the tribe and your position in it. Now the question, “Who am I?” becomes relevant and meaningful. Who are you beyond all of the roles and functions you have embodied in your life?” — Adyashanti

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