A friend of mine couldn’t get along with one of her co-workers. The man was very self-centered, and it made the relationship almost impossible
Finally she wrote to Swami Kriyananda, assuming he would scold the man. But Swamiji’s response startled her.
“He just wants to be your friend,” he said.
“Well, he has an odd way of showing it!” she thought. But she knew what Swamiji was asking of her. He was saying, “Why think about the faults of others? Your first responsibility is to your own happiness.”
Many times, Swamiji would respond when others treated him badly by firmly saying: “I choose to love. For one simple reason, because I am happier when I love.”
My friend, however, didn’t feel equal to the challenge. With admirable self-honesty, she wrote to Swamiji, “I don’t want to love that much.”
A child at Ananda was troubled by a bully at school. The child had a thoughtful nature. So when his father said, “That boy just wants to be your friend,” the son listened carefully. But after a moment’s reflection, he said, “I don’t want to be that good.”
This is a question we all face: “How much of ourselves are we willing to give up for the sake of others?”
Which is really the same as asking, “How much of our ego are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of 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 relinquish the ego.
I had a misunderstanding with a friend. Swami Kriyananda scolded me for my attitude. When I started to explain how my friend had behaved badly, I could see that Swamiji wasn’t interested. So I reverted to silence. But inwardly I rebelled. Not because I thought Swamiji was wrong. I had behaved badly and deserved to be scolded.
Silently, I introspected until I reached the heart of my dilemma. It was simple. “I don’t want to be that good! I don’t want to always have to give to others. I also want others to give to me.” Even worse, I had to admit, “And when they don’t give to me, I want them to be scolded.”
Such an attitude is so common that few would even question it. If we are struggling to acquire a sense of our basic, human self-worth, it might even be proper to encourage a level of self-promotion, at least until we have established a healthy relationship with our ego.
But if God is your goal, every shred of selfishness must be let go. It would be folly for me to claim that I have purged myself of the delusion that gripped me that day. But on that occasion, at least, I repudiated it.
The secret of success on the spiritual path is to understand that giving up a desire is not a sacrifice; it is the doorway to more and more happiness.
This is not a truth that we can grasp with logic and reason. Experience and divine grace will gradually persuade our hearts.
When we have suffered enough and are prepared to give up the ego-born idea “I have all the answers,” God takes the form of the Guru and leads us to His bliss.