[Listen to Asha read this story]
For seven years, the man had struggled to resist an attraction to a woman in the community who was not his wife. Finally he said to Swamiji, “I am too unhappy, I can’t go on this way.”
“Let me tell your wife,” Swamiji said. “It will be easier for her that way.”
“He has done his best to overcome this,” Swamiji said to her, “but he can’t. It is something he has to live through.” She was devastated, but she took it bravely.
When the news came out that the man was leaving his wife for another woman, some people reacted judgmentally. “What about his obligation to the community?” one said to Swamiji. “This will reflect badly on all of Ananda.”
“He gave seven years to the community,” Swamiji said. “I think that is long enough. He did his best. You can’t ask more than that of anyone.”
The day after the couple separated, Swamiji asked the two women to come to his house and cook dinner together for him and a few guests, including the husband.
“Sir! Are you sure that’s a good idea?” a woman exclaimed when she heard the plan. “Don’t you remember what happened yesterday?”
“Of course I remember,” Swamiji said. “But they have to get over it sooner or later. If they wait until some future lifetime they won’t even remember why they dislike each other, and it will be much more difficult to overcome. When a wave of karma hits, raise your energy and meet it at the crest! That’s the way to make spiritual progress!”
Later, the wife described what happened that evening. “I wanted to give in to my grief and run away,” she said, “but Swamiji wouldn’t let me. He had more faith in me than I had in myself. It wasn’t easy to summon up the courage, but I did my best, and divine grace did the rest. The whole evening, I felt nothing but love for them. Even though circumstances had changed, the underlying friendship was untouched.
“Afterwards, I wasn’t always able to maintain such a high state of consciousness, but I had done it once, so I knew I could do it again. Because I followed Swamiji’s advice, I believe I saved myself years, perhaps even lifetimes, of suffering.”