Family Duty

[Listen to Asha read this story]

“I am grateful to my parents for giving me a good home and treating me with kindness and respect,” a devotee told Swamiji. “Beyond that, however, I don’t feel much of anything for them. Is there something wrong with me?”

“Sometimes a devotee deliberately incarnates into a family where he doesn’t have a deep connection,” Swamiji said. “Maybe just one or two qualities are all he has in common with his parents. That way, when he finds his spiritual family, it is not difficult to leave his birth family behind.

“Still, unless your parents try to prevent you from following your spiritual path, you owe it to them to be kind. If they force you to choose, however, between your loyalty to them and your loyalty to God, God comes first.”

When Swamiji first came onto the spiritual path, his father showed no respect for the choice Swamiji had made.

“I had to write him a very strong letter,” Swamiji said. “I told him, ‘I love you as my father. God, however, has been my Father for all eternity. Please don’t force me to choose.’

“I don’t think he ever understood what I was doing, but after that, he never spoke against it, so we were able to maintain a cordial relationship.”

On another occasion, Swamiji said, “The best way to serve your family is to go deep spiritually. Their egos may object to your absence from the family nest or your refusal to fall in with their plans for your life, but their souls will rejoice because your spiritual progress also blesses them.”

Swamiji once suggested a course of action to a young man that would have set his life in an entirely new direction spiritually. The man demurred.

“If I did that,” he said, “my mother would be so disappointed.”

“To find God,” Swamiji replied, “we must all be prepared, if necessary, to disappoint our mothers.”

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