Can the Spiritual Path Help Solve Family Problems?


Common man’s first priority is to solve immediate problems in his family like son has lost his job, daughter’s married life is not happy and looking for divorce etc. How can spiritual path help him in solving such daunting problems?

—Chandrakant , India


Dear Friend,

Life without problems to solve would be intolerable for more than a brief period of time! The world could not exist without the play of opposites constantly vying for our attention and participation. So let’s begin by accepting that there will always be problems to solve, separated only by brief periods of rest and tranquility. It has been said that “a comfortable life is not a victorious life.” (It’s true that there appear to be some people who go through life undisturbed, but such cases are rare, and in the context of reincarnation we can only imagine that such a person has earned his rest.)

That having been said, the contribution of the spiritual path to our life’s happiness is not to solve our problems on the level of the problems (which, as said above, never end), but to solve the “problem” of our “attachment” to solving the problems.

Your son’s lost job can be turned from an occasion of worry and discouragement into an opportunity for a new beginning and new direction in life. Rather than sit and stew about a lost job, he can work on improving his skills, his attitude, his relationships with co-workers. He might pursue additional education that could open new career opportunities. The need to find a job can serve as an opportunity to express energy, self-confidence, and courage in the process of seeking another job. You see: the “cup of life” can be half empty or half full according to one’s attitude. If you were to simply hand your son a job, what would he learn or gain by having done nothing to earn it? Problems are only opportunities (as Paramhansa Yogananda often stated).

Similarly for your daughter. Her disappointing marriage is an opportunity to work on that relationship: her skills and courage in expressing love without condition or expectation of return or recognition; or, in the end, the courage to “call it quits” and get on with her life. What real good what it do for you to “fix” the relationship if she and her husband didn’t make any effort to reawaken love and respect for one another?

The spiritual path can bring us the wisdom to deal successfully and creatively with the unending stream of “opportunities” (we are pleased to call them “problems”). It gives us the perspective that in all things there is the hand of God — working through our own karma and that of others — to bring us the lessons in life that we need to transcend the ego and body-consciousness and realize we are the true Self: a spark of the Infinite Flame. Through devotion to God in whatever form we hold dear (deity, guru, peace, joy, etc.), we connect with the power of Spirit which is the only lasting, unchanging, untroubled Reality there is: first and last, Alpha and Omega. “Tat twam asi.” Visualize the power, grace, and equanimity in times of trouble that we see in the lives of Rama, Krishna, Jesus, or Buddha.

Krishna states plainly that it is “better to fail in the performance of our dharma than to succeed performing someone else’s.” Neither you nor I can solve the lessons of life for others. We might be able to help if they seek our help, but he is the wise parent who understands that our children are not ours; they are children of God. Be a good example to them; listen sensitively; speak cautiously and tentatively; render aid if asked and if your son and daughter are making the effort to their best ability to deal with their “opportunities.”

If the son of a wealthy man were to squander his inheritance, what wise father would pay off his son’s debts if the son was unrepentant? Others must do their part in solving their own problems. Help must be given with wisdom. A drowning man could use a life-saving rope or flotation device regardless of whether he was foolish in diving into unknown water, but one drowning in debt needs to be willing to change any habits or attitudes that contributed to his debt before deserving the help to pay those debts off. As Jesus Christ put it: “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Do good…carefully!

Blessings and joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman