Accommodating Others

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Accommodating Others

Vedanta is the teaching about the self. It helps us to discover that the real meaning of the word ‘I’ is the self. It also teaches us that the self remains unchanged from childhood to youth to old age. Its nature is pure awareness that is absolute contentment and love and it is free from any sense of limitation. To appreciate the truth of the self, we require a mind that is prepared, that is capable of understanding this knowledge. If we do not have a mind capable of appreciating Vedanta, it will be like a person who is still trying to learn the basics of arithmetic wanting to learn calculus. Vedanta requires a mind that has in relative measure what it seeks to discover in the absolute. If the self is absolute contentment, then the mind of the seeker must be relatively content. If the self is absolute love, then the seeker must be a relatively loving person, who happily accepts people and things as they are.

To gain such a mind means to develop certain values and attitudes and to be clear about them in terms of understanding their importance. Accommodating others is such a value. In fact your anger is due to lack of accommodation. You want the entire world to behave according to your desires. It is your own expectation of others that causes anger in you. You want the world to follow your dictates. If you wish to develop a value for accommodating others, you need to understand the fact that the other person behaves in a given manner because he cannot behave differently. How can you expect a different behavior from such a person? That is all he is capable of. If you say that he could have done better, then he would have done so. If you can demand a particular behaviour from the other person, can he or she also not demand that you behave differently because if you change, then he need not change? He has the right to ask you to let him live as he is. At least he doesn’t want you to change; he wants you to let him live as he lives. What is wrong in that? In fact only by accommodating others, allowing them to be what they are, do you gain a relative freedom in your life.

If you analyse it, everyone interferes in everyone’s life. Everyone causes a global disturbance by his actions. You only need a large computer to figure it all out. You will find that you are never free from anyone’s influence nor from all the forces in the universe in so far as your physical body is concerned. Nor can you do an action without affecting someone. You cannot even make a statement and get away without affecting another. Therefore, no one is really free, we are all inter-related.

Even the Swami is not free. Once I went to a zoo and passed two people. One said to the other, “Did you see the new one?” People always make comments. I try not to disturb people, but I disturb them even by my dress. I wear these clothes because in my country they are the traditional dress of a sadhu, and I want to appear the same elsewhere also. I have made a decision, and that decision definitely will affect someone. If other’s comments disturb me, it means that I allow them to disturb me. It means that I have only that much freedom that they grant me. If I reverse the process and give them the freedom to be what they are and think what they think, as long as they don’t step on my toes, then I am free in this world. To the extent that you give freedom to others to be what they are to that extent you are free. I see myself as free, and I give you the freedom to have your problems. Therefore, I do not fight with you. My freedom is only the amount of freedom that I give you to have any opinion about me. When a person sees my clothes and asks me about it, I smile away. Jocularly I say to him, “Halloween has come early this year”. I need not change his opinion, even though it may be wrong. I give him the freedom to be what he is. I do not allow him to disturb me: that is the only freedom I have.

You need to accommodate people as they are. If someone makes a comment about you, allow him to have his comment. If the comment is not true, you usually try to justify your actions and prove him wrong. That is silly. If you are objective, you can see if there is any validity in his criticism. If he has put you down for his own security, give him the freedom to do so; then you are free. What tightening can you do to a bolt when the threads are not there? By changing yourself totally in this way, you gain the relatively abiding contentment and freedom that everyone wants.

Developing this attitude helps you to come to terms with yourself psychologically; that is what we call yoga, sadhana. You cannot circumvent psychology; you have to come to terms with yourself as a personality. It is not an exhaustion of vasanas, impressions; it is understanding certain problems that are there. Look back at your life and see what were the situations, the people and events that disturbed you. What you find are not mere memories but leftovers of reactions. A reaction is not what you do consciously. You cannot consciously get angry, for anger is not an action but a reaction that takes place because you have no say over the matter. These reactions create an impact on you and become part of your psyche. They are the things that make a person a personality. In fact they are false, born because of a lack of alertness on your part and having no real roots in the mind. Memory alone is not unpleasant. Unpleasantness is there only because of the leftover reactions that have assumed a reality for you. People might have caused some disturbance in you or you had disturbed some people for which you carry guilt. In the seat of meditation recall them and let them be as they are. Thereby, you free yourself from all the reaction you have had.

Developing this attitude helps you to come to terms with yourself psychologically; that is what we call yoga, sadhana. You cannot circumvent psychology; you have to come to terms with yourself as a personality. It is not an exhaustion of vasanas, impressions; it is understanding certain problems that are there. Look back at your life and see what were the situations, the people and events that disturbed you. What you find are not mere memories but leftovers of reactions. A reaction is not what you do consciously. You cannot consciously get angry, for anger is not an action but a reaction that takes place because you have no say over the matter. These reactions create an impact on you and become part of your psyche. They are the things that make a person a personality. In fact they are false, born because of a lack of alertness on your part and having no real roots in the mind. Memory alone is not unpleasant. Unpleasantness is there only because of the leftover reactions that have assumed a reality for you. People might have caused some disturbance in you or you had disturbed some people for which you carry guilt. In the seat of meditation recall them and let them be as they are. Thereby, you free yourself from all the reaction you have had.

Thus, with reference to a few things, you are a pleased person. See how pleased you are, and bring that person to bear on all the situations, on all the people who had displeased you and whom you had displeased at one time or another. Then, look at yourself just as you would when you look at the birds and the mountains. Accept others as you accept the stars. Pray for a change if you think they need to change, or do what you can to help them change. But accept them first. This is the only way you can really change as a total person. Otherwise you can study any amount of Vedanta, but it will not work. You will only have a feeling that there is something underneath. You want to change others so that you can be free, but it never works that way. Accept others totally, then you are free; then you discover the love that is you.

Excerpted from ‘Insights by Swami Dayananda Saraswati: Part 6 of the Public Talk Series’, published by Arsha Vidya Centre Research and Publication, Chennai, India.

You can buy this book, as well as other publications and audio and video recordings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s talks and lectures from http://www.avrpt.com, or from Spirit Of The Earth, Ground Floor, Srinidhi Apartments, No. 4 Desika Road, Mylapore, Chennai – 600004

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