How to overcome guilt of not doing enough for family in your Spiritual Journey?

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5

Have you faced the below?

You have overcome the fear of “What will others say” to a large extent, but when the closed family members feel your spiritual practices may mean you are not doing enough of the duties towards your children. 

Example - You know you reduced your socialization, as you don't enjoy it anymore, and that impacted all in the family.  Seeker doesn't enjoy watching a movie, or TV,  which means the children also are raised in a different environment. 

How do you overcome the feeling of not doing enough for your family in your spiritual journey?

Are there any lectures of Swami ji that clarify this aspect?

ps: Wrote a longer post here on my recent struggles. Also, realized part of the struggle is with trying to focus/control outcomes/results.

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16

Ravi ji, this is a very important question!

I would approach this in two ways:

1. Re-framing the idea of ones spiritual quest: All of us go through periods in our lives where we sacrifice certain moments with our families and friends to pursue a certain goal that is important to us. As parents many people sacrifice time spent with their family in order to put food on the table and making sure they bring enough money to put their kids through school and to give them a good life etc. This scenario may also involve less time spent in socializing or watching movies or tv-time together  as a family because one is busy traveling for work etc. However the perception here is that it is a sacrifice that one is making, which while not ideal, is in the end contributing towards a better life for the family and better opportunities for them. Hence, people are generally ok with this.  

However, when it comes to your spiritual practices and spiritual journey somehow in our minds, we tend to interpret it as a rather selfish act. Something that we do for our personal benefit at the expense of others. So if we socialize less or spend less time watching movies etc because of our spiritual practices, somehow the mind perceives it as a selfish act, which only benefits one person to the exclusion of others. This is where I think a little re-framing of the spiritual quest may be helpful. To me, I think of the spiritual quest as a rising tide in the ocean. That is a tide that is rising will lift up all boats in its vicinity. Also, another example that comes to my mind is that if one person in the family wins a jackpot everybody in his family also shares in the spoils right? Same way pursuing your spiritual practices will not only hugely benefit you but also through you, your entire family will be uplifted. Being in the presence of a saintly person is a blessing for everyone around. This world needs more saints and so it is important to have the right perspective around ones personal spiritual practices.

2. BALANCE: This is equally important to keep in mind. Any time in our lives when we tip the scales of balance towards one activity to the exclusion of most others, it tends to make us more obsessive and this will eventually lead to frustrations and other negative feelings when we cannot give the said activity as much attention as we think it deserves! Being obsessive about spiritual pursuits in my experience while being a householder may not be the best formula for success. I believe when we consciously choose the life of a householder and choose to share our lives with a spouse and eventually children, it is important to honor that commitment by being involved equally with that part of our lives. That means sometimes we might have to make the time to watch certain shows or movies with our families, which we may not ideally like, but we do it as a service to our family members because it will mean a lot to them and by doing it we in turn honor that spark of divinity that has manifested itself as our family members. This will be an act of karma yoga in daily life. 

Anyways, thats the jist of what I wanted to share and I hope this is helpful.

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12

Om Sri Hari Ravi Bhai, as you know, I generally have slightly radical views, so I apologize to you or anyone else who gets hurt by them. I have very little or no guilt when it comes to my family stuff. Hence, I thought about why it is, and here are my thoughts. I want to start by saying I have exceptional parents who are amazingly supportive but also have some social conditioning.

  1. I believe beyond doubt that my guru and divine mother are my true parents. They have been with me for lifetimes, and that relationship supersedes anything I have. Hence, anything I do for their cause, including my own Sadhana, is of the highest priority, and I feel zero guilt for it.
  2. I do everything possible to ensure my parents are comfortable. I have spent days and nights with dad and grandma at the hospital. I take them to follow-ups, often cook for them, and generally, we take very good care of them, so they are pretty happy.
  3. I don't spend enough time with them other than helping out. My brother does that. I read, write for SD, and generally stay disconnected because I don't have much to talk about these days. That's something my mom complains about sometimes, but I am happy to live with that, and she got used to it.
  4. My mom and I got into a huge debate a few years ago before I met Swami. She said that her friend's son passed out of IIT and went to join ISCON. Her view was, "He abandoned his parents." I said his life is his own, and if parents bring up children with the expectation that they are a safety blanket, it's wrong. As expected, she did not like it, but that and many more incidents showed me that all love we have in the world is conditional. A mother's love is closest to being pure, but even that has expectations. Only Guru and Divine's love comes without expectations. This helps me separate reasonable requests from unreasonable requests. I would be happy to take her to the temple every Saturday but unwilling to go to some random wedding because of social pressure.

Basically, I love my parents very much, but that does not bind me to any feeling of obligation or guilt. I do everything I can do because I have a duty of care toward them, and since I have a similar duty to myself don't encounter guilt.

Sorry again if this ruffled a few feathers. Its a sensitive topic but I wanted to share my truth.

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8

Good one Ravi.

I think it’s important to clarify a few things:

1. Has anyone complained or does the behaviour of family members show that they are unsatisfied? If yes, then discuss with them what you can do to help with this situation. If it is doable, go for it, if not, come to a middle point agreement.

 

2. Are you doing your dharma? Watching tv or socialising for their sake isn’t really dharma. Dharma is being loving, caring and attending to their needs as they arise.

 

3. Is it just a ‘feeling’? If it is then it is just the mind playing up. Dismiss and just double check whether you are being loving and there for them when needed. 

 

4. No matter how much one does, ‘enough’ never really happens. So set your own benchmarks and when you attain them, that’s your enough:)

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5

I'm not married but live in an extended family with married siblings (with children), and hold a key de-facto position in the decision making within the house. So maybe my tips can give some helpful prospective.

I involve my family in my spiritual life. For instance:

1. Unless I'm doing a sadhana, I hold a daily worship without fail at about 7 PM. Family members participate in this worship as per their convenience, but regardless of anyone's participation or lack of it, I hold it out loud so they are aware that it's happening and they should join.

2. With divine grace, we got inspired to treat an idol as Vigraha back in 2019, and the relationship has only grown with him since then of not just me but others in the family.

Ladies cook separate food for him (without onion), we feed him before everyone else usually. Children are also taught by example or words about the divinity that the Vigraha holds.

My input in this has been to uphold that the Vigraha comes first, and if there's any oversight in service, I gently or firmly remind the family of the same, so now that has been engrained in their psyche.

3. When I sit with other family members, many a times I share some spiritual anecdote or teaching as per the on-going situation/topic of discussion, so that way I contribute to their spiritual growth with my learnings I think.

4. Apart from the two new members in the family, everyone has already visited with me to the ashram multiple times. They should experience the divinity at ashram I feel and so I had encouraged them to join me if possible whenever I went there.

5. I've even got my parents and siblings to perform sadhanas obviously not by force but by helping them with the details and encouraging them by explaining the importance of the same. 

So, my spiritual pursuits aren't secret to them (obviously without revealing my specific sadhanas), and they're not only comfortable but actively help in my sadhanas.

Jai Sri Hari 🙏

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2

I am feeling same from last 2 days.

Since 2014 I started watching  OmSwamijee's videos. I Just lost the habit of watching movies and netflix series as folks of my age do.

Now As I got married my wife complains as I don't like to watch movies over friday nights.

Now I feel guilty I have deprived her that joy.

 

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2

Let's do our best and let the Divine be the witness! (P.S. Outing + pet puja with family once in 3-4 weeks keeps many complains away. 😌😌 #petucommunity k hit mein jari) 😁😁

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2

Ravi Ji🙏,

              I sail similar waters all the time and get daunted frequently. In absence of a definitive response, what I can share is that these are very reasonable self enquiries which anyone sincerely committed to any goal should face at some point in time, however there are no fixed answers (only progressive) neither are these waves permanent.

Since you asked for Swami's take on it, I recall someone asking something similar like "Feel guilt while being away from work to come over to the ashram, what could be done to overcome it?". My understanding from Swami's response was something like "Giving your "Full" while at work, should offset any guilt being away. Probably you didn't give your best which is propelling the guilt".

Found this verse from Sri Bhagavad Gita on Non-Attachment while discharging mundane duties (Chapter8, Verse7) which beautifully encapsulates the situation in brevity:

तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु मामनुस्मर युध्य च |
मय्यर्पितमनोबुद्धिर्मामेवैष्यस्यसंशयम् || 7||

Easier said than done, but this is the space from where realized beings operate.

One of Swami's core principles is Compassion, be it with others or "Self". He suggests to not to be too hard/ too easy on oneself as life takes its own sweet time to unfold.

Wish you Good.

🙏

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2

Jai Sri Hari Ravi Ji,

I loved your question; as I started answering it, it became much longer, so I wrote an article on it. When you get a chance, please read it.

https://os.me/short-stories/how-do-we-overcome-the-feeling-of-not-doing-enough-for-our-family-in-our-spiritual-journey/?bbl_published=1

Sending love, peace, and respect. 💗🙏

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1

Hello Sir,

I face this very commonly. The only thing i do is just let go and stick with the path. As long as i have given my best both spiritually and personal life its fine.

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1

Ravi ji, I don't understand much but I can totally relate with your words when you said "guilt comes from the mind's desire to control outcomes". And it's that desire which is the root cause of suffering, I feel. 

Hope you are doing well. Jai Sri Hari 🙂

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1

the only way out is balancing your social and spiritual life . i am a married man and my wife too says that i should have joined some ashram rather than marrying her , since i don't have inclination towards materialistic pleasures like other family members .

the quantity is not important in sadhana , what is important is quality ...

i make my wife fool that i am materiastic by doing some things she likes just for her sake , because i have a duty towards her because i have married her . serving the relatives should be regarded as a sadhana . after attending to the social responsibility , one should concentrate 100% on the sadhana , no matter how little time you give... quality matters !

with warm regards

 

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JSH Ravi Ji,

https://youtu.be/tebRuh2cD3I

https://youtu.be/fjL86UI7UJE

https://youtu.be/5dJ8mbvs3Ik

takeaway from Swami ji: Do every deed like it is a Sadhana and immerse in that devotional sentiment. Adopt acceptance.

 

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1

Our culture,society and family are a huge part of our lives. But, we are all individuals. We have a right to our own minds, our own spaces and our own lives. It's true that man can't survive alone even though it's a controversial topic. If your family feels you are not doing enough for them then you need to be transparent with them. You need to explain that you have evolved. With each decade of our lives, our priorities are supposed to change. And we are also supposed to evolve. If you have always been a highly evolved spirit then that's another story. But if you are going through a spiritual evolution you need to explain that to your family. I am sure they will understand. And if you are feeling guilty for not spending quality time with your family watching television, then I really don't have a response to that. If necessary you can try watching inspiring programs with them on your mobile or laptop. I don't want to sound harsh but your family after all is an attachment. Are you sure you wish to continue with this form of attachment all your life? Attachments have needs and wants which never end. And the more you give the more they want from you. It's a never-ending process. But it's your life and your choice and ultimately your own decision.

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1

Jai Shri Hari,Ravi Sir!

I could feel your pain while reading your detailed post.  Please do not not let guilt imprison you. Is it your fault if your soul gravitates towards a higher purpose?  In my humble opinion, people on spiritual path must serve themselves a generous dose of acceptance and love because people surrounding us often try to keep us tied down to a lot of conditioned expectations, and hold us guilty if we do not measure up to their expectations. Had our beloved Swami Ji given  in to the expectations, the world would not have a saint like Him.  Had Buddha not left his palace, we would not have the teachings of the awakened Buddha.

Had I been in your place, I would try the following:

1.  I will start calling out to Ma Gayatri by chanting Gayatri Mantra day in and day out to receive her wisdom and guidance in the face of the voices of dissatisfaction from the loved ones. I will also request Ma to enable my family to develop understanding towards my soul's inclinations and purpose.  Why on Earth should we be made to feel guilty if we socialize selectively. 

2.  I will surrender my current state of mind at the feet of Divine mother and Guru. 

3.  I'll try to engage in some of the activities my family wants me to be involved in as an act of love and service towards them ( as someone mentioned in reply to the query). Let us say, I may attend a wedding or two with them. But, I'll do it my way. I'll not be  able to engage in futile conversations for long. I may listen to relatives' worldly cares and concerns while silently chanting a mantra. I will be accommodating of some of the expectations. However, I'll also have my boundaries in place, and will not do anything that makes me extremely uneasy. After all, it takes two to tango. 

 Before I conclude this long answer, I want to thank you for being such a wonderful member of our os.me family.  You are awesome, Ravi Sir!

 

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