Being Hurt by Those You Serve


I have been deeply hurt by my family members.They have all mistreated me, and I am suffering a great deal of mental anguish and have a terrible level of anger inside toward them.I have continuously helped all of them in life despite their behavior.I don’t understand why I was born into such a family where no one understands me, and one where I am constantly mocked, undermined, and then relied on for help.What is the purpose of my suffering?

—ss, U.S.A


Dear SS,

There is so much in this world that seems so unfair and that we don’t understand. I remember Swami Kriyananda quoting Yogananda who said about a certain person and situation, “If you could see the karma!”

Everything that happens to us is determined by our karma, meaning our own actions from this current life as well as previous lives. This idea may be a difficult one to accept, but it is the truth. All great masters and saints have said that the law of karma is absolute: for every action (that we have ever done in our many lifetimes as a human being) there must be an opposite and equal re-action that will come to us. As long as we have a post of ego and the self-definitions that go with that ego, then our karma from past actions will come back to us again and again.

Our karma is what determines our life circumstances in every way. It is not from DNA or our upbringing that we are molded, but from our karma. The DNA, and the choice of a family that we are born into, is totally determined by our karma. So what can we do about this situation? As we come to terms with understanding our life and the role of karma in it, then there can come a level of acceptance of our circumstances that wasn’t possible before. We begin to realize that the reason we are here in this world is to become more free inwardly by working out our karma. The more we begin to live our live in this way, the more free we become. When we come onto the spiritual path more actively, then we begin to understand and accept how karma works in our life. By doing so we have a better chance of working out our karma more quickly.

In your particular situation with your family, this will be very important. I would suggest that you begin by impersonalizing your relationship with your family members by not expecting them to respond in a particular way to the service you offer them. The service you offer needs to be more impersonal, and done as an offering to the divine. How your family responds to your service is up to them, and will produce karma for them as well. But try to feel yourself more and more acting without desire for any particular response from others, but with a free, loving and joyful self-offering to the divine — the guru, Divine Mother, or whatever aspect of God that you find inspiring.

I hope these suggestions will be helpful. I know that being in close contact with others can produce a very challenging situation. But also remember: your soul has chosen this particular situation for your spiritual growth. Do the best you can outwardly and with the right attitude, and then let God take care of the rest. And find time to have satsang with others who are spiritual and who can help you to grow in your own inward strength. If this is possible, it will help you a lot.

In divine friendship,
Nayaswami Parvati