Dr. Vijai S Shankar MD.PhD.
25th February 2009
“ Friendly enemies”
Most men long to have a family, an ideal family which is enviable to one and all. But what is an ideal family and is there one anywhere in the world that can be emulated? An ideal family is one where love and harmony prevail, but is there one in which arguments and accusations are absent? No, there is not, for wherever there is a hunt for an ideal there will be arguments and accusations to attain perfection, and every family is in a constant search for some ideal or the other.
Children grow up and begin to dream of their own family, besides the one they have been born into. Like everything else in life families happen, but man thinks he made his family and that he has to protect and provide for it. Nothing wrong with this thought, but is it true, is the question. What a family is needs to be understood rather than misunderstood, though man believes he has understood.
Every man values his family, his family name and his family tree. Every man is proud if he belongs to a renowned family, and he wishes his family to be renowned and strives very hard that it may be so. This is the reason why he hungers for power and prestige so that his family will be remembered after he passes away. Every man wishes his name to be remembered after his death, but little does he realise that he will not be aware if it is or not. Nevertheless, it is the belief and trend that every man follows blindly.
The honour of family is vital to man as a matter of tradition. He even kills his kith and kin to protect the honour of his family name. But is it not dishonourable to kill a member of a family? But tradition blinds him and drives him into a frenzy of illogical behaviour just for the honour of a name - a family name. Life, it appears, is more expendable than a name. Daily squabbles in a family are acceptable and not considered dishonourable.
Arguments fill any house and the variety and intensity has a spectrum. In some houses daily arguments are the norm, while in some arguments are few and far between. Nevertheless, they are present in every household, however religious they may or may not be. It is, therefore, not the presence or absence of religion which determines the presence or absence of discord in a family. Arguments and a difference of opinion, which is subtle argument nevertheless, are present whenever family and relatives meet together on festive occasions, venture on a holiday, visit a place of worship, have a day out to the beach, a picnic or a routine visit to the shopping mall. The daily school run by the mother is conducted like an army drill. Orders bellow out of the mother in vain to keep the army of children or child in step. A harmonious family every man dreams of and it has remained a dream so far as he can see.
Traditions and culture differentiate family values, but to each family its values are supreme and right. This means that no matter what the values are they need to be respected, for it is right to that given family. To impose one’s values on another is dictatorial and a slur to the freedom of the other, yet it is present in every household towards another. Life has variety within itself and life’s expression needs to be respected by any god-fearing man or woman.
Every family reckons it is a loving family; it goes to the church, temple or other place of worship. But can its members honestly admit that they do not argue or fight, yet they go to the place of God? One may argue that to argue and fight is a sign of love and happens in any family. It only means that neither love nor the meaning of family is rightly understood.
Man and woman grow to be husband and wife. They are happy when they meet and, until the wedding day, every aspect of human behaviour is in blossom mode. But slowly and steadily, every day, the blossom keeps eroding and is soon replaced by wrath, jealousy, disgust and harsh behaviour towards each other. Moments of love and harmony are few and far between and each begins to avoid the sight of the other. The distance between the married couple keeps increasing and soon a wall of words separates their love for each other. Is this love or a family, one really wonders?
A show is put up for society that every family is a happy one, and that is why social gatherings take place just to show their solidarity and love. But is the love and solidarity genuine? This is the question every man needs to address and confront. There is nothing to put right for everything is rightfully in its place, as the world is manifested by life. The show is present so that man may understand whether it is real or not and a family may really be a family, and not a collection of friendly enemies under one roof, which is the case anywhere in the world.
Hypocrisy rules every family: a smile reserved for the stranger, family member and relative alike, but deep within hatred of some degree resides. Sometimes, the smile too is absent and obvious hatred is displayed and conveyed in no uncertain terms. Is this a family, one can only wonder in bewilderment? Trust seems to be the word that does not exist in any family, for each member is regarded as having the potential to commit wrong and so doubt hangs heavily or subtly in the house. Can it be a family where doubt exists? It is because man thinks that he makes life happen and he is yet to realise that life happens to man. It happens in an illusory manner which he takes to be real.
As years pass by and the family members increase in number, so does the tension within the family. There is an air of tension about - a bubble ready to burst at the mere mention of a word, thought, wish or desire. The man of the house is always right and the children never are. He forgets that he too was a child once, but he has, however, grown to be a man who is right. If so, will not the children too be right when they grow up, and there is nothing wrong in appearing wrong during childhood? Would not all the wrongs in childhood pass only to appear once again in every phase of life? Can any man honestly prove that, because he has always been right during childhood, he is right as a grown up adult? No, he cannot, and there is no such man, for the mind is dual and every man will be right or wrong several times in his life until death.
Can any man of the house admit that he is never wrong? If so, how wrong could the wrong of the child be? Only if the man of the house is certain that he is never wrong as a grown up could he emphasise that his children should not be wrong or are wrong, given any situation, during childhood. Man needs to watch how life flows and, if not, he will always be under the guillotine of right and wrong. He needs to trust that life is a singular flow without any right or wrong, and not his mind, which is meant to think that life is a sum of events either wrong or right. This enables man to live life and let others live too in the family.
Accusations, besides arguments, prevail in every household and they are taken for granted as normal behaviour. Could man accuse and be accepted as normal too? If God is everywhere, and if He were, he would be appearing as everything and everyone. Then would God not be accused in every accusation? Would love permit anyone to accuse? A superficial mind accuses. Right understanding of love would not permit accusations, but would embrace any situation, no matter what.
In every family, everyday situations are tensions waiting to burst. Each member tries very hard to keep the bubble called family together, not allowing it to fall apart. But apart they are, for each knows only his mind and what his mind says is right and acceptable, while the other mind is not. While each thinks this way, tension will definitely exist within the family, waiting to explode any minute and it does. Unless man understands that family is a collection of living life gathered together under one roof, not by choice but by chance, there will not be love and harmony.
Every family operates like a correction-centre for children and adults are on constant behavioural radar. Every blip in behaviour is noted and, if it is accepted, the family is happy and, if not, all hell breaks loose and the march is on towards the gates of worship for divine intervention and guidance to avoid a repeat performance. No one gets corrected for life and the journey to a place of worship is merely an exercise in hope and reassurance and not an acceptance of God as the almighty. Be patient - everything turns out fine eventually if it is meant to and does not if it is not. Every being is perfect as perfect can be, for he or she is a product of life and life does not make any mistakes in its manifestation.
Animals too are aggressive, passive, display congenial and playful behaviour and are neither aware nor know that they do. Man believes that they do because he does them himself, or so he believes. Man is a sophisticated animal and life flows for him just as it does for vegetation and animals, without time or thought. Life merely makes him appear as a speaker, thinker and doer, while he is not, and this is the illusion waiting to be understood.
Life will flow in only one way for every member of the family and the mind has no control over it whatsoever. Life transforms spontaneously, uncontrollably and unpredictably and the mind has no control over life, though it may appear to have. This is life’s intelligence, to make man appear as an individual capable of speaking, thinking and doing, while he is not. Life is an optical and auditory illusion of light and sound, a miraculous manifestation of energy or God.
Solidarity within the family is never genuine; it is a put-up show for the benefit of the neighbours or society. It is a ploy to display a happy family unit to society. Man needs to understand that it is a show put on by life so that an understanding may happen of the game that the mind is meant to play. Life is an intelligent show of light and sound wherein individuals get created every time a word is spoken as an auditory illusion of sound.
Man simply ages and passes away not really realising that he has arrived or departed from a family. In life he is within a family that he detests, hates and loves, not really knowing how he or she has come to live in a particular family and how precious it is. Every member of the family is an opportunity to realise man’s true nature, where you came from and where you are proceeding to.
Nobody owns anybody. All are living beings, an expression of life. Staying together under one roof is not the criterion for ownership. Nothing belongs to man, not even his family. Everything belongs to life, as everything is life. Everything is life for everything is energy and energy does not and cannot claim ownership. This understanding will bring in respect for life and for everything that life gives. Life looks after itself for life is the giver and the taker too.
Life gives life and takes life too, and this includes everyone in the family. It is only a matter of waiting in line for departure from this world of light and sound. Until then live with your family and not think for them. Life looks after everything, including you. You will be what you are meant to be. Life is much faster than the mind, so understand that the mind can never control life, though it is believed that it does.
The moment you recognise that you belong to life as everything else, jealousy, hatred, anger and doubt will recede into the labyrinths of the mind and love will shine through every moment as long as there is breath within you. Every member comes into the family without notice and will leave the family without notice. Everyone is on a long journey and your house was just a resting place until life moves you along the journey yet to be made.
Life is a long journey, which appears as one following another. Man can never know if he has met a member of the family before; he may very well have. So, be careful - it may be a reversal of roles this time around, and you can never be sure of the next family you may find yourself in, arriving, of course, unannounced. So, enjoy your stay with your family and you will enjoy when you understand that judgments and criticism mean disrespect to life and a lack of trust in life or God.
Every word meant to be spoken will be spoken and the quality of the word spoken reflects the understanding that has happened to you. Even a yes and a no are uttered by life to manifest an individual. You are meant to be where you are meant to be, and it is not the mind which determines where you are meant to be. The force of life is far greater than the power of the illusory mind. The mind is illusory and the ego too is illusory.
The ego is false and so too the concepts of how a family should be. The ego is false and calls for divine intervention for prevention or correction too would be false. Life does not need to be informed how to conduct itself. Life is safe in life’s hands. You are alive in every moment and the ego does nothing to keep the aliveness in you throbbing. Arguments, accusations, judgments and criticism also happen just so that an understanding can happen that it is life’s manifestation that is being argued against. Life and its will are accused; life’s decisions are being judged and criticised.
Judgments make life appear to be either tragic or happy. Understand that for each one in the family life will unfold only in one way and not according to any spiritual, religious, educated or experienced mind. Each one will possess, know and come to do what he or she is meant to. Once the illusory nature of the mind and family is understood, the door to life or enlightenment is wide open, which it has always been and always will be eternally.
© Copyright 2009 V. S. Shankar