A friend of mine couldn’t get along with a co-worker. It was the man’s self-centered nature that made the relationship so difficult.
She wrote to Swami Kriyananda, assuming he would scold the man for his attitude. But Swamiji’s response wasn’t what she expected.
“He just wants to be your friend,” he said.
“Well, he has an odd way of showing it!” she thought.
She understood what Swamiji meant. “Why think of the faults of others? Your first responsibility is to your own happiness.”
Swamiji responded to the unloving actions of others by affirming: “I choose to love, for one simple reason, because I am happier when I love.”
My friend didn’t feel equal to the challenge. With admirable honesty, she wrote to Swamiji, “I don’t want to love that much.”
We all face this important question: How much of ourselves are we willing to give up for others?
To restate the question, “How much of our ego are we willing to sacrifice for our own happiness?”
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “The spiritual path is too narrow for the ego and God to walk it together.”
To make space for God, we must gradually let go of the ego.
I had a misunderstanding with a friend. Swamiji scolded me for my attitude. When I tried to explain how my friend had behaved badly, I saw that Swamiji wasn’t interested. So I closed my mouth and remained silent. But inwardly I rebelled.
Not because I thought Swamiji was wrong. I had indeed behaved badly, and I deserved to be scolded. I meditated on the problem until I reached the heart of my dilemma, and then I saw that it was very simple. “I don’t want to be that good! I don’t want to always have to give to others. I want others to give to me.”
Even worse, “And when they don’t give to me, I want Swamiji to scold them.”
If we’re struggling to acquire a basic sense of our human worth, it might be right to cultivate a certain self-affirmation, at least until we can develop a healthy ego.
But if God is our goal, every shred of selfishness must be let go. It would be folly to claim that I’ve purged myself of the delusion that gripped me on that day. But it gave me a taste of the joy that comes with letting go of the ego.
The secret of success on the spiritual path is to understand that to letting selfish desires go is not a sacrifice; it is the doorway to a bliss that we long for, deep in our hearts.
When we’ve suffered long enough, and we’re ready to give up the ego-born idea, “I have all the answers,” God takes the form of the guru and guides us to His bliss.