We can choose our friends, but we cannot choose our family. I am sure there are many of us who wish that this was the other way around. I’m very fortunate that my immediate family is delightful. However, looking back on my life, there were certainly some challenging individuals who came my way.
Just accept that one person
A while ago, I attended an Art of Living Course, and I remember a story that I was told during it which moved me by its profoundness. It went like this:
A man wanted to become enlightened. He went to his guru and said, “What do I need to do in order to become enlightened?“. The guru said, “Go home and when you have accepted every person in your life as they are, come back to me.” So he went away, took some time to think about this and then went back to his guru. He said,”I have thought very hard about this and I can accept everyone in my life, except this one person.” The guru, a very compassionate man, said, “Okay, for you we can make an exception. You do not have to accept everyone in your life. You only have to accept this one person.“
Change your perspective
There are always some people for whom we lock the door to our hearts. That door is open for all others, but not for them. We cannot bear to open it for them. They make us turn away. For many of us, these people are part of our family. This may be because we are hurt the most by those who are closest to us.
I often remind myself of the dichotomy that exists in the world we live in and its influence on us. We understand things by recognizing their opposites. For instance, we can only understand light because we understand dark. We can only appreciate joy because we are aware of sorrow. We can only understand chaos because we have known order.
Sometimes, I challenge myself to think about something that doesn’t have an opposite and in most cases, I find that it is nearly impossible. Perhaps, what I perceive in the person for whom I cannot open the door of my heart is the opposite of the values that I treasure in other people. Kindness. Compassion. Love. Patience. Perhaps, my incessant experience with duality has prevented me from realizing that everything does not have to exist in opposites. I have to recognize the shades of grey between black and white.
Unlock the doors of your heart
Does my inability to perceive them make these values completely void in this person? It does not. Therefore, I have to believe that the values I treasure such as love and empathy are present within this person, too. They are only hidden beneath depths which I cannot see. How will I be able to see them if I reject their existence before giving this person a chance of showing them to me? It is my moral obligation to give this person a chance. And if I have, then yet another chance. I have to put my own patience and empathy to the test.
I must also be grateful that the situation I have to face because of this person will accentuate the feeling that I have towards other people in whom I perceive the opposite of this person.The first step towards acceptance is to identify the roadblocks that you have put in your own path towards it. Empathy will give you the strength to remove the roadblocks and unlock the doors of your heart. Even for the member of your family who has hurt you the most.
Allow this acceptance to take root inside you so that it can nourish you. Make a choice to be the light that benevolently shines on others but most especially, on your family. You never know, that same light which you intend for them might also light up the path that you are looking for.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”Mother Teresa