Family

Posted: 29/06/2013 in Routine part 2

May you two, waking up in your pleasant chamber, both filled with laughter and cheer, and enjoying mightily, having good sons, a good home, and good cattle, pass the shining mornings.

What Is a Real Family?

How to strengthen family ties is a very important question these days. It is said that Jawaharlal Nehru was instrumental in breaking up the extended family structure in his attempt to industrialize India. After that, once tightly-knit families really suffered as age-old family ties became loosened. The wealth of extended families dispersed in many directions as nuclear families formed and money was unnecessarily spent to maintain the ever-increasing needs of a multiplicity of households.

Let’s explore what a family actually is. People seem to have forgotten. In America before the First World War there were wonderful, well-established and large joint families, with twenty, thirty or more people all living as one unit, often in one home. Everyone had chores. And they all knew their place within the family structure. They loved and cared for each other, and mother was always in the home. We may be a long time in rebuilding family togetherness to the point where the extended family is back in vogue, but meanwhile we are still faced with maintaining family unity. Hindus around the world are working hard to rediscover their roots and strengthen family values. Our staff of HINDUISM TODAY had many inspiring interviews with bright young Asian Hindus in America who are working in their communities to make a difference and reestablish the old culture of caring for one another. We congratulate them and welcome their efforts, for they are the leaders of tomorrow.

I tell parents who seek my advice that one way to keep a family together is to show all members that you want to be with them, that you need them in your life. Not: “Get out of my life, you are bothering me. I have other things to do. I have goals in life that don’t include you.” This hurtful attitude is based on the belief that when children reach age eighteen they should leave home and support themselves. In the West, this pattern is the result of two world wars, when every able-bodied young man left home to join the armed forces. This callousness on the part of parents leads to alienation from their children, who then begin leading independent lives. That leads to the first step in leaving home: keeping secrets from the parents.

With each secret kept, a small distance is created. A large distance is created when five or ten secrets accumulate and deception becomes a habit. When too many secrets mount up, parents and their children don’t talk to each other much anymore. Why do secrets create a distance? Because every secret must be protected. This requires cleverness, sneaking around to keep the matter hidden, even lying. Secrets give rise to angry outbursts to keep others away, such as, “I’m insulted that you would even suspect me of that!” Arguments erupt that go unresolved, and an impenetrable barrier is established.

Mom and Dad are heard confiding to one another, “They’re so different now. I can’t reach them anymore.” Of course, the children have been taught to be cautious, in a sense forced into keeping secrets, lest unloving parents curse them or physically punish them without mercy for transgressions large and small. Many are afraid of the wrath of mothers and fathers who rule their families by fear. In today’s world it is so easy to leave home. It is so easy for the family to break up. It’s even expected. Husbands’ and wives’ keeping secrets, similarly, creates a distance between them. The final divorce decree started with the first secret.

In an ideal family, children should be able to tell their mother and father anything and everything. The parents should want to understand and realize that if they don’t understand but misunderstand, they participate in the break-up of their own family. Of course, it might be hard for them to deal with certain experiences their children are having, but all they have to do is look back at their own life, actions and private thoughts to know that their children are living out the same fantasies. The children repeat the still-active karmas of their parents. Children are born into families with karmic patterns that are compatible with their own. I can predict what young people are going to do in their future, and the temptations that will come up, if I know the karmic patterns of their parents. With this knowledge, it is easy to guide them through life, helping them avoid temptations and unwholesome experiences that their parents lived through. All of these experiences are set into motion by the individual himself, by his own past actions.

The Magic Of Love

Every experience, no matter how difficult or embarrassing, is a good experience, providing the lesson to be learned is extracted from it. Experiences that are unresolved and repressed can be very burdensome for the individual. Living Saiva Dharma makes us our own psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor and problem-solver. This is because one slowly becomes the watcher of his mind thinking, the watcher of his emotions feeling, acting and reacting.

Holding the family together can be summed up in one word: love. Love is understanding. Love is acceptance. Love is making somebody feel good about his experience, whether the experience is a good one or not. Love is giving the assurance that there is no need to keep secrets, no matter what has happened. Love is wanting to be with members of the family. A father who is eager to hold his family together rushes home from work. He doesn’t think to himself, “Why should I go home to all their problems when I can continue working at the clinic for awhile longer.” Loving parents, father or mother, want to be with their children, and they let them know this in so many ways. They face up to problems with love, trust and understanding. They know that problems are only problems because of lack of understanding. They also know, through living Saiva Dharma, that love and trust bring understanding and acceptance of the lessons of the experiences, which are natural manifestations of individual birth karmas and collective family karmas. This approach keeps the family strong and cohesive. In a home where dharma is lived, no one has a private life. No one has a secret life.

When harmony persists in the home, harmony permeates the community, and harmony permeates the country. When love and trust prevail in the family, love and trust extend to the local community, and the country becomes stronger and more secure. Making strong distinctions between good and bad does not help youths understand their desires and temptations. The only path through their lives is one experience after another. They evolve into better people through understanding their experiences.

Children and young adults who have been holding secrets and now feel that it is time to become close to their family again should tell their parents they want to be completely open and disclose what they have been hiding. Then give parents a few days to adjust and prepare to listen. Once reconciliation takes place, hugging and talking will begin again, and the warm, loving feeling of family will take over the home. Something magical happens when secrets are brought out in the open among loved ones. Many youths have told me that when secrets were divulged, their parents were surprisingly understanding. Secrets are psychic burdens, and releasing them, youths tell me, gives a great sense of upliftment, like a balloon dropping its counterweight and soaring skyward. They feel instantly closer to their parents, free of guilt, happier, less stressful, no longer defensive and more interested in helping others.

One of the biggest areas of secrecy is sex. It is important that parents give their children an education in sexual behavior early on. This will also bring and keep the family togetherness. Many parents find it difficult to talk about sex, pornography, drugs and the various other kinds of temptations the world offers today. If this is the case in your home, it is best to seek community or professional help. Not talking leaves children unprepared. Parents force their children into secrecy by showing that these are areas that cannot or will not be faced in the light of day. All begin wishing that conditions will improve, but they never do.

We can now see that the first secret is the crucial issue, for it leads to many, many more, be it on the part of children keeping secrets from their parents, wives from husbands, husbands from wives, students from guru, and on and on. The solution is to follow the yamas and niyamas, the dos and do nots of Hindu Dharma. These are the natural laws of Sanatana Dharma. These are the human ethics that hold families together, marriages together, communities together, countries together. These eternal Vedic precepts are for everyone, no matter who they are.

What Makes a House a Home?

What is it that makes a house a home? A home is a place of companionship with people in it who love each other, who are harmonious and closer inside with one another than they are outside with associates in the workplace or with classmates at school. A home is a place that’s so magnetic that it’s difficult to leave. In a home there is love, kindness, sharing and appreciation, and the inhabitants help one another. It’s a place of selflessness and togetherness, where everybody has time for everybody else. In a home, the guests are treated like Deities or devas coming to the temple. That is the spirit of hospitality in the Hindu framework. It is the same spirit of sublime energy flowing to the guest that also flows within the household. And a righteous household that worships every morning together as one family is like a temple. That’s a home, and everything else is just a house or a hotel lobby.

If you were to look at a harmonious home with your astral vision, you would see the three primary colors — pale pink, pale blue, pale yellow — and white, all intermingling in a big pranic force field. Moving over to another house, you might see a congestion of various colors, with dark and light shades and strange astral forms, and you would know that house was not much different from a hotel lobby.

I was once asked about the desperately poor, homeless families living on the street in America and what can be done for them, when so many other families have large, luxurious homes. I, too, have seen families on the street. But if they live together, if they sleep together, if they talk together, if they eat together, they are a family, even if they are destitute. Such a family is at home wherever they are. You don’t need a roof to make a family. You don’t need a roof to make a home. The truly homeless are some of the rich people who build multi-million-dollar houses and are too busy to really live in them. The truly homeless are those who have turned their home into a hotel lobby. The husband works. The wife works. The children are delinquent. There’s no companionship. They don’t talk together every day. They don’t eat together every day. They rarely see each other. The truly homeless people are those with babysitters, caretakers, gardeners and maids, but who don’t spend quality time with the family in their house. Babysitters often abuse their children. Parents are unaware, too busy making money outside the home that they don’t live in. This is another way of looking at the rich and the homeless. Who is to be pitied?

Control of the computer and the Internet is also important to make a house into a home. If the computer is on all the time, the house turns into an office, even if everyone is at home. Many homes these days are just offices. Human communication has stopped. The computer eats up the time that one should be giving to others within the home. Using the computer moderately gives us time for gentleness, play and communication, not with a screen, but with a human being. And that is the vibration needed in a home.

Discouraged Families

There are too many dysfunctional families in the world today. What is a dysfunctional family? A dysfunctional family is a discouraged family, a family that has no home. True, they may have a million-dollar house, but it would take a lot of constant, magnetic love and kinship to turn that house into a home. Many million-dollar homes are just houses, totally impersonal.

The guests are not God in those homes; guests are seen as business potentials and social obligations. The father works late in his profession so he can avoid his wife and family. When he comes home, he sits down in front of the television while eating his dinner. The kids are running here and there; the mother comes home tired from her equally demanding profession and begins yelling at them. Verbal abuse becomes a way of life. The youngsters come and go unchaperoned. Nobody knows what anybody else is doing. Girls are getting pregnant out of wedlock. Boys are swearing, getting involved in gangs and experimenting with drugs. That is the hotel lobby home of a definitely dysfunctional family, a discouraged family.

No wonder that in discouraged families teens want to leave home as quickly as possible — as soon they’re able to get a job and rent an apartment. That is not quality living, is it? Sorry to say, but most dual-professionals’ homes, where husband and wife both have high-paying jobs, are more like a hotel lobby with a snack bar than like a home with a hearth, which is home with a heart. Think about your home. Is the guest God? Is your house a home? What kind of astral vibration does it actually have? Be honest with yourself. Evaluate!

The astral pranas or energies radiating out from the hotel lobby kind of home make the occupants frustrated people. They make people around them uncomfortable, because they live in an uncomfortable place. Yes, the pranas that emanate from an empty house make one an empty person. All Hindus in the world should reverse this situation for a stable, well-adjusted community for the new and coming generations of Hindus in the West, as well as in the East. This is the next step which those of the diaspora have to heartfully take. It is only intelligence that can reverse a negative situation and turn it into a positive, encouraging situation.

It is important for the mother to be mother, and for the father to allow her to be mother, so that together they can nurture the astral atmosphere within the house and make it vibrate with spiritual energies into a real home. To make the house into a home is the next step. You will know if it is a home when you want to hurry back to it. You won’t want to stay away too long, and you will find it difficult to leave. That’s because you enjoy the vibration that you have created from your soul body. And your focus for whatever you are doing will be exquisite. It won’t get divided.

It is a slow process for a mother and a father to turn a house into a home. They have to be spiritually present in the home. The auras of the mother and father and each of the children have to permeate the walls of the house. The Gods and guardian devas and ancestors have to be worshiped and invoked in the home. That turns a house into a really pranically viable home, building up the vibration so that you never want to leave.

What Is Real Prosperity?

A spiritual vibration in the home can be initiated or renewed by having a priest come and perform a purification ceremony. That makes the pranas flow correctly in the home, which when carried out to the community make you a full person. Another key is to have Monday evenings at home. Monday home evening is practiced by many religions, including the Hindus. On Monday evening, Siva’s day, the family members get together, prepare a wonderful meal, play games together and verbally appreciate one another’s good qualities. It’s an evening when the television is not turned on. They don’t solve any problems on that day. They just love each other, and everybody has a voice, from the littlest child to the oldest senior. It’s a family togetherness, one day a week when everyone will look forward to having mom and dad at home. That doesn’t mean it will be on Tuesday or any other day if Monday is missed. Family home evening is always on Monday, and everyone’s life has to adjust to that.

Many families find even this is impossible because of their careers. Nowadays people think that they have to have two incomes, three incomes, to be comfortably well off. Money is gained and lost, sometimes rather quickly. As quickly gained, often as quickly lost. But what is wealth? Wealth is a diamond with many facets. One facet of wealth is money, but it is not the only one. A happy family that enjoys each other — that is a great wealth. Doing things together and enjoying doing things together is another great wealth. Rushing home to be with one another — if you can create that in your family, you are wealthy. Wealth is growing your own food, making your own furniture, sewing your own clothing, picking oranges off the tree the family planted together several years ago. Another great wealth is living within your income. Even multi-millionaires are poor if they do not live within their income and always worry about debts, payments and responsibilities. They often are very lonely people, because in all their efforts to gain those millions, they have had to sacrifice their family, their children and their own happiness. Many content themselves with building big multi-million dollar mansions — but to benefit whom? A gardener? Maybe a cook, a maid or two who get to live there all the time while the owners are traveling around the world, coming home late and leaving early. That’s not wealth. That’s also not wisdom. That’s a good way to die young.

To have a maid take care of the children while the parents both work and come home late is not a substitute for a mother; nor are grandparents, though they may be a better choice. A surrogate mother cannot replace a real mother and a real father for children growing up, because children model themselves more than you know upon what they see adults do, what they hear adults say to each other, what they feel adults are feeling. That shapes who they are and what they are going to do in their future. There is no substitute for a real mom and a real dad in a real home with a vibration of a family, the vibration of loving and the vibration of sharing. A mother’s place is in the home

What is a mother? A mother is a person who loves her children, who is calm, serene, doesn’t become angry, doesn’t become frustrated with children, realizing that a child goes through many stages of development. One must not expect a child to behave like an adult or expect too much of a child too early. A mother knows of all this intuitively; but for her intuitive mind to work, she has to be free from the worries of the outside world, of bills and bill collectors, of travel, of TV and various other concerns, so that she can raise up the next generation strong enough to meet the challenges of the impending new age of peace and prosperity for all mankind.

Now, if mothers beat their children, the children will beat other kids, and later on in life they will become warriors and fight all through life, emotionally, mentally, because they’re taught right in the home that solutions are reached through violent means. We don’t want that. That won’t bring in the New Age. That is bringing back the Old Age. Those methods of raising children have to go. A mother must be a real mother. For many, it’s not a popular idea for a mother to stay at home. During the Second World War in the United States, mothers left their homes and never went back, because they were needed in airplane factories and shipyards, as the men were all off to war. But before the Second World War and before the First World War, mothers remained home. Juvenile delinquency was not a phrase in anyone’s vocabulary. If a teenager made some mischief, the family was held responsible by the community. Such things were regulated in those days, but went out of balance when mother left home and never went back.

Mothers-In-Law

When devotees speak with me of their experiences with family togetherness, the mother-in-law is a common concern. Mothers-in-law on both sides are often even the cause of separation or divorce. They often have the attitude, “This girl is not good enough for my son,” or “This boy is not good enough for my daughter.” That constant harassment — emotional harassment, mental harassment and even physical harassment — can cause the couple to separate, just for their own peace of mind. When we are asked to ascertain astrological compatibility for marriage, we not only check the compatibility between the boy and the girl, but also between the girl and the boy’s mother.

It is important to be aware that all mothers-in-law of the world — and every daughter may eventually be one — have their own insecurities in giving sons and daughters over to a spouse they don’t know deeply. Social security and pension plans are relatively new, and only exist in certain parts of the world. In the absence of these, worries about the future naturally arise. Every society has evolved solutions to the in-law issue, mothers-in-law, fathers-in law, but in today’s world it’s even more difficult. Young people need to be aware of their needs, their feelings, their insecurities, and have compassion when behavioral patterns that are the by-products of insecurity show themselves, such as being overly dominant, proud, extremely critical and unrelenting. In America there is a sad saying, “Old and gray and in the way.” The solution used all too often is to put bothersome elders away in nursing homes, rest homes or “paradise retreats.”

The major focus of the problem is the authority of the mother-in-law and her occasional abuses. But consider also that in modern cultures the authority of elders is all too frequently usurped by both the son and the daughter-in-law, who then wield the power and make life-and-death decisions about their parents. The tables are turned. This causes an even greater instability. One has to ask which is the preferable culture — to allow the elderly to remain in charge of their lives and have a strong say and respect in the family or to deny their contribution and condemn them to a life of helplessness and dependence, which is what happens all too frequently in the West. Obviously, a harmonious balance is needed.

First of all, I suggest that the myth that mothers-in-law are unable to adjust or learn anything new should be thrown out. Second, I hold the husband, the mother-in-law’s son, totally responsible for bringing about harmony in the home so that his wife is happy and not at odds with his mother, and that his mother does not make his wife miserable. As in all family conflicts, each incident must be resolved before sleep. Issues or problems can be put on an agenda, as described in our system of positive discipline, and brought up in a calm manner at the daily family meeting, just as is done nowadays by children in many school classrooms.

Anyone, including mothers-in-law, can change if they want to. A problem mom is a discouraged mom, just as a problem child is a discouraged child. A young bride told me her mother-in-law was totally transformed when she changed her attitude toward her, when she began to consider what it would be like to be in her place and looked for ways to win her love and trust. Without a single confrontation, a single harsh word, their relationship improved and they actually began enjoying each other and working together with enthusiasm.

Striving for Teamwork

The mother-in-law has much to offer. A strong, kindly mother-in-law will see that divorce does not happen for her son by helping to hold the family together. A strong, loving mother-in-law will see that an untrained wife becomes trained in various household skills and the human arts of nurturing and education. A strong, understanding mother-in-law will care for the children and give occasional rest and freedom to the busy young homemaker. The mother-in-law is a precious artifact. Whatever her qualities are, likeable or unlikeable, they are also the qualities of the son, since she raised him. She is a library of useful knowledge for the young bride. If the young homemaker takes the attitude that she is in school and the mother-in-law is her teacher, and adopts that relationship, then it will be a positive learning experience for the daughter-in-law, and she will become a better, more accomplished, more refined person as positive qualities awaken in her. The mother-in law teaches the ins and outs of the whole family, and if there are dozens of members of the extended family, there is a lot to share and know. She should listen carefully.

Many families are not patient and persistent enough to bring about harmony in the home. Often they resort to splitting apart. When the mother-in-law living with her son and daughter-in-law is not kindly, loving or understanding, one common solution that works when the going gets tough for the bride is for the son to get an apartment for himself and his wife next door to his mother and father’s home, or at least not too far away. After the first baby is born, mom-in-law may soften.

Another solution is a condominium with members of the extended family living in separate apartments in the same building. This happens in many parts of the world where ancestral compounds provide closeness, but also separateness. Within this independence enjoyed by each nuclear family, there is yet a valuable dependence on the extended family as a support in marriage, crises, births and deaths. Here, without too strict a rein, the elderly mother may reign supreme. Honor her, respect her when she visits and realize that each in turn may be a mother-in-law or father-in-law one day. Thus we set a new karmic pattern in families where Eastern values and those of the West merge for a happy elderly experience among Hindus in today’s world. With this in mind, shall our motto now be “Old and gray and here to stay”?

Still, we must admit that to move across town to avoid the mother-in-law is to cause new karmas to be worked out in a future birth. To conquer the home situation in love and trust leads us to deepen our religious commitments through sadhana, to quell the flames of fight within us. When this is done, a better person emerges. The family dharma is a very important part of Hinduism today. We must reaffirm that we are born into a family to merge our prarabdha karmas with those of others and endeavor to work them out with all family members.

It is best to take a positive attitude. Mothers-in-law are not going to go away. They have always been with us; they will always be with us. Many, if not most, are not going to adjust to being retrained. Most will have a hard time accepting suggestions or hearing about a better way of doing things. They are who they are. If the wife receives pleasure from her husband, simultaneously she can bless his mother for bringing him into a physical body. Let’s be kindly. Let’s be tolerant. Let’s be accepting. Let’s be nice to the aged. Let’s work out issues at the daily family meeting as they come up. If all else fails and the situation becomes unbearable, let’s get an apartment a few minutes away, and treat Mom as an honored guest when she comes to visit, which will probably be twice a day.

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Comments
  1. cruiser says:

    very informative. i must say that its hard to find blogs with informative tools and easy appearance.
    i enjoy reading yours. keep up and good luck

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