There are instances when friends take help from us and then easily forget without gratitude. Then again they get in touch when they need something and again forget and this continues.Such attitude and behaviour cause a lot of bitterness.What is the way to keep the heart out of this bitterness?

Is it an intervention of the ego when we expect love and consideration from our blood relations like our own brothers and sisters? Or Is it natural to expect good behaviour and love from them?

But ignoring their lack of love and consideration which they should have, is also not too inviting. So what is the solution?

—S, India


Dear S!

There is a tale from India that goes like this: once upon a time there was a guru who was sitting beside the river. He observed a scorpion fall off a branch into the water’s edge. The guru reached out his hand into the water to rescue the scorpion and as he lifted the scorpion back onto the branch, the scorpion bit him! The guru simply put the scorpion back on the branch but the scene was repeated several times. An onlooker observed this little drama happen repeatedly and finally approached the guru and asked him, “Why do you keep trying to help the scorpion when he simply bites you in return?

The guru said: “It is the nature of the scorpion to bite, but it is my nature to help him.”

Jesus Christ counseled when asked “how many times should I forgive someone who hurts me,” Jesus said, in essence, “every time!”

Yes it is natural to feel hurt, even resentful. And, yes, it IS the ego that feels that way. And yes we do naturally expect to be appreciated. However, such is the nature of delusion and duality that our hurts serve to remind us that only by loving and serving God in other people can we achieve unconditional love and be without any expectations of other people.

However, there are times when to accept the behavior of another person who perhaps uses you is not good FOR THEM! It is not spiritual to be a doormat for others. So long as you have not yet achieved the divine love of a Jesus Christ or of the guru in our story above, then it’s ok to be circumspect in how you help and give to others when they are not appreciative of your help. There’s generally little point in scolding anyone, but you can be calm and reserved and decide whether and how to help such a person in a way that you can do so without having expectations of them and how they treat you.

Start, in other words, where you are. Then by effort and the grace that comes from trying to be non-attached and accepting, you will find that you will be focusing less and less on how you are treated in return for the support and help you give others. But, never forget that to give without condition or thought of self IS the highest goal. And also, to give wisely, as well. Sometimes what a person asks of us is NOT what we SHOULD give. If an alcoholic asks you to buy them liquor, of course you are NOT going to do that as if you were helping them! So compassion should always be balanced by wisdom but not because of fear of being unappreciated, however: at least ideally.

So, try your best; know the goal; but also be practical and self-honest. “Banat, banat, ban jai!” Doing, doing, soon done!


Nayaswami Hriman