“The Personality of Godhead is never inactive as some less intelligent persons suggest. His works are magnificent and magnanimous. His creations both material and spiritual are all wonderful and contain all variegatedness. They are described nicely by such liberated souls as Shrila Narada, Vyasa, Valmiki, Devala, Asita, Madhva, Shri Chaitanya, Ramanuja, Vishnusvami, Nimbarka, Shridhara, Vishvanatha, Baladeva, Bhaktivinoda, Siddhanta Sarasvati and many other learned and self-realized souls.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.1.17 Purport)
A stark contrast. A surprise is in store, as it is only natural to assume that others think the way we do. Projection. The Sanskrit is atmavan manyate jagat. I tend to think that the mind of everyone is just like mine.
My view could be as follows:
“I will do anything for my family. No matter what. When I think about it, I have known my parents since birth. They are my first priority. The older siblings are in the same category. The births of my younger siblings represent some of the most memorable moments in my life. Sure, we get into arguments sometimes, but I wouldn’t want anyone else close to me during the times that really matter.”
On the other side, their viewpoint might not be as universally benevolent. The elderly parents want some financial assistance. They view it as a return on the investment they made many years prior. The mother remembers the long, consecutive sleepless nights when you were a baby, when you wouldn’t stop crying.
The siblings are envious of the treatment you receive from the parents. In fact, they are jealous of the way your own children get extra attention and care from the grandparents. The children always want things. No matter how much you have given them in the past, they want more. If you fail to deliver, they will lob the worst abuses your way.
My view could be as follows:
“Similar to the way it is with family, I will do anything for my friends. I don’t need anything from them. In fact, I hate to bother them for favors. I wish only to spend time together, talking about life, discussing troubles, sharing possible solutions, looking towards the future.”
My friends, meanwhile, always want favors. They seem to make requests in areas where I have the most difficulty. They are well aware of the imposition, of the inconvenience, but they ask anyway. If I fail to meet their expectations a single time, they might not talk to me for months. That has already happened with several of them. It has been years since there was contact. I am not sure what I did wrong. Who knew friendship would have such a flimsy foundation?
From Vedic literature we have the case of Maharishi Valmiki. Prior to initiation with his spiritual master, Narada Muni, there was affection for family to the point of breaking the law to meet their demands.
In their first meeting, Narada asked if the family members knew they would share in the bad karma associated with the work. Valmiki went and asked. He was surprised to hear the response. The family essentially abandoned him. The sacrifices he had made for them were not appreciated.
On the other hand, the future dedication in spiritual practice was greatly appreciated by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Valmiki went on to compose the Ramayana poem, one of the oldest works in Sanskrit literature. When the same Valmiki appeared again as Tulsidas, he wrote many couplets in poetry describing the faulty nature of relationships with friends and family.
The common bond is an interest, and once that interest is not met, the relationship breaks. With Bhagavan, there is nothing we can actually do for Him. He requires nothing from us, so devotional activities are always appreciated, even if it is something simple like chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
By endless mercy demonstrated,
That even the most simple appreciated.
Such as chanting holy names so,
Or into lengthy composition to go.
Where Valmiki the poem composing,
After former life his family opposing.
Since always there an interest to be,
God only my true welfare to see.
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