How to Be with Others


I’m meditating from last 15-18 months.

I have come across a set of feelings and emotions that divides me from other people’s feelings and emotions. for example: 1) no likes and dislikes, 2) no judgements, 3) less interactive with others, less social , 4) non attachment, 5)whatever happens, happens for highest best, 6) there’s nothing such as good and bad, 7) losing interests in many other activities.

What does it all mean ? I’m afraid whether I’m on right or wrong path?

—Smit, India


Dear Friend,

Take heart: the spiritual path is, at first, a lonely one until the Lord becomes your constant companion. There must be a period of disengagement in order to find your own center within.

Yet nothing in the spiritual life requires us to be aloof or cold to others. Paramhansa Yogananda put it this way: “When with others, be with others; when alone, be with God.

The difficulty with this occurs mostly only at the beginning of the path of meditation: during the period when we are learning, new habits and becoming increasingly centered within. During such times, traditionally, one might be in an ashram or other place for spiritual training. That is no longer as common, however.

Yogananda also counseled: “Seclusion is the price of (soul) greatness.” The lives of all who achieve greatness, even materially, find that their one-pointed commitment separates them from others. We see this in the lives of saints, but it is also true for modern business barons like Elon Musk. (The difference is that the Self is far more rewarding and eternal than the slings and arrows of fame and fortune.)

Being centered in the Self does not require one’s demeanor to be cold, aloof, or sour. It’s just that during this period you perhaps have not discovered (consistently) the river of life’s joy within you. Look upon all as your very Self. “Love your neighbor as thy Self.” Not that you should admire and applaud their attachments, silliness, or superficiality, but smile upon them in your heart as reflections of what all too easily could be your own state of mind.

The best cure, however, is to seek the companionship of others of like mind and meditation practice. Every spiritual aspirant must eventually face the reality that a change in companions and outward activities is bound to take place. If it does not, the magnetism of the world will dilute the magnetism of the soul achieved through meditation. Don’t be afraid to be different. Even in this you might silently inspire or help someone else.

So, as the Christian Bible might say: “Gird your loins!” and prepare, as in the Gita, for the battle of life wherein you must choose sides and distance yourself from the ego-affirming forces of Maya. To fight is to not hate or dislike. It is simply to “know the truth that shall make you free.”

Be of good cheer. Rely on the inner presence of the Self, of God, and guru to direct your life towards “the pearl of great price!” Bless all whom you meet, however, with the sunshine of your smile and the warmth of God’s love within you.

Nayaswami Hriman