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Listener: How is the family a burden?
Acharya Prashant: Now, this is the question. Good.
Shivam has raised a question which is a genuine question. He is asking, “What is the institution of family, what is this society, what is this patriotism?” Certain things have been discussed in the HIDP sessions and he can’t bring himself to an agreement. But agreement or disagreement, are not very valuable. Are they? It’s no point agreeing or disagreeing if I do not understand. Understanding is vital.
We will first try to understand what the institution of family is and what is this so called society. That understanding is vital. Once you have understood what it is, then whether you agree or disagree, all those are trivial matters. Actually, they are very small matters.
The real thing is that do I really understand, what is the meaning of these institutions? Be it the family or be it the society or be it the institution of marriage, it is about the relation of the individual to another individual. It is about the relationship between one man and another. Correct?
What is the basis of this relationship? And remember if you are talking about relationship, relationship includes everything. The relationship is our very state of mind. Relationship means, how am I relating to my parents? How am I relating to my neighbours? How am I relating to my books? How am I relating to the pet animals? How am I relating to the trees? How I am relating to everything because we are relating at every point in time. Life is a relationship. There is no moment when we are not relating to something.
What is the basis of this relationship?
There are three kinds of basis. You can give the heading as –”Basis of relationships”.
The lowest level of relationship is – completely material.
This is the way an iron relates to the magnet, there is a certain relationship but it is a totally dead relationship. This is the way sodium relates to water, sodium hydroxide is formed but this is a completely dead relationship in the sense that neither sodium nor water has any choice in the matter. Does sodium understand why it is reacting? Does the iron piece know why it is getting attracted to the magnet? But still it gets attracted. This is the lowest level of relationship where both the parties who are in the relationship do not understand why they are in that relationship. It is purely out of their material conditioning that they are in a relationship. So this is the lowest form of relationship where I do not even understand what is happening. I have just been conditioned.
Higher than this is the second form of relationship which is – Animal form (greed and fear).
We said the lowest level can be called as the material form. This second level can be called predominantly as the animal form of relationship, where you are relating to the other only out of temptation because either you want something or because you are afraid. Have you seen how animals relate to each other? This is predominately found in animals. You show them a piece of bread and a dog would come to you. There is temptation or greed. You have male animals running after female animals, but again there is an only temptation, greed of sex. No other form of relating is possible in animals; there is either greed or fear.
We have so far covered two bases of relationship; the lowest level is called the material level. Iron does not even know why it is getting attracted to the magnet. A little higher than that is the animal form which includes greed and fear. The animal knows that it is being attracted but it knows it is being attracted only because of greed or fear. Its relationship is either of greed or fear. Look at small rabbits, the moment you approach them what do they do with their ears? All the time they are afraid because they know that they are weak. So, that is the way they relate to the world that everything is there just to kill us and they would jump away or run away at the slightest noise. Have you seen small mice and rabbits? Slightest noise and what do they do? They run away and that is their way of relating to the world. A relation is based on fear.
Then there is the really human basis of a relationship. This human basis is of love and love alone – pure, uncorrupted and unadulterated love.
Now we have to find out, looking at our own lives that what is the basis of our relationships?
Shivam, you must find out how you relate to your friends, how you relate to your examinations, how you relate to your books and how you relate to everybody in your life; right from your parents to your teachers, to the stranger.
Let me ask you, when do you go to your books? Is it when a date sheet of examination has been put up?
L1: Yes Sir.
AP: So, what is the basis of a relationship between your book and you, out of these three?
L1: An animal form of relationship.
AP: Animal. This is the animal form of relationship because you are going to your books because of fear. So many, of us constantly, constantly feel that we are oppressed, that we are being exploited. Many of us feel often as a young people that our freedom is being compromised.
How many of us often feel that our freedom is being compromised? Raise your hands. How many of us feel that we are not free at some point or the other, at any place? In spite of feeling that you are not free, in college, at home, you still go on compromising your relationship between you and that institution. Be it a family or college or anything else. Even in friendship, it is again fear. It is again an animal relationship.
Do we really understand what Love is?
If you do not really understand what love is, then our relationships are not really human. You see iron gets attracted to the magnet. Male hormones get attracted to female hormones. It is just like that iron start saying that I have fallen in love with the magnet. But being human beings, what do we claim? We claim, we have fallen in love, and out of this love often one marries the other. What is this? Iron getting attracted towards the magnet. It is lower than even animal form. Out of this, often kids are being born. Male hormones being attracted to female hormones, out of this relationship kids are being born. This is the lowest level of relationship.
But most of us have been so deeply blinded that we cannot see. We cannot see. The family is just a name; the real thing is – what is the basis of my relationship with my brother, sister, neighbour, parents, friends, teachers, religion, books, animals, trees and the entire universe. How am I relating to the entire universe? That is the real thing. Are you getting it?
There is no problem as such with being with your parents, having a certain relationship with them. We are pointing out the quality of a relationship. A thousand students come to us and say that we feel oppressed, what do we do? We are dependent upon our parents. We are dependent upon them for our identity, support, beliefs and values and hence we cannot resist them. What is the basis of the relationship?
AP: Fear and greed, both. Now what will be the environment in such a family? Is the kid being told to be disciplined all the time? What is this discipline that is being imposed upon the kid? What is the basis of the relationship? Is it really a human relationship? How many families are there in which the relationships are really based on love?
Let me tell you what the relationship that is really based on Love is.
A relationship based on Love is the relationship free of conditions and expectations because Love liberates and Love does not impose conditions.
Love does not say that if you do this then only then you are my son. Love does not say that I expect this and this from you. Love does not say that I have invested so much in you from the last eighteen years and now it is your time to pay back. Love does not say that if you marry such and such girl you cannot be with me.
Love is vast. Love is beautiful.
Love does not seek you to put you in chains; Love makes you free.
Love does not say that please do this otherwise your life will be hell; Love says that you are wonderful and beautiful just as you are.
Love does not ask you to become something; Love does not say please do something so that we can be proud of you.
Are you getting it? These are not the symptoms of love.
For all you have, please do have relationships, have beautiful relationships. But also as intelligent beings do not forget to investigate the basis of those relationships. Why at all I am relating with this person? What brings me to this person? And that is a moment by moment thing. What brings me to this room? Why do I always enter and sit there on the back benches? How am I relating to this room? How am I relating to my friends? How am I relating to this session?
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Ignorance, fear or Love? Three levels of relationships || Acharya Prashant (2013)
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