Improving Family Relationships

Question

I would like to know how to improve relationships in the family.

—S, In

Answer

Dear S,

Our human relationships, especially the close ones of family, are one of our greatest opportunities to grow spiritually. God dwells in each soul. In relationships, our highest duty is to see the soul’s potential and support each other in efforts to live up to this potential. Each soul must unfold according to their unique ‘blueprint’-their karmic patterns, the lessons God has set in place for them in this life. Those close to them help in their soul evolution by encouraging them in their highest efforts, offering guidance without attachment or criticism, not ‘possessing’ them but loving them with God’s love, never holding on to resentments but forgiving them always.

Swami Kriyananda the founder of Ananda and a direct disciple of Yogananda, whose teachings we follow, wrote a wedding ceremony, which we offer to all who would like to be married by Ananda ministers. In the ceremony wedding vows are said first to God and then to each other. These vows are a guide for spiritualizing all relationships. We make our vows first to God because the Divine is our primary relationship. With this connection, we can then make vows to one another.

Vows to God: Beloved Lord, We dedicate to Thee our lives, our service, and the love we share. May the communion we find with one another lead us to inner communion with Thee. May the service we render one another perfect in us our service of Thee. May we behold Thee always enshrined in one another’s forms. In every test of love, may we see Thy loving hand. In any disagreement, may we seek Thy hidden guidance. May our love not be confined by selfish needs, but give us strength ever to expand our hearts until we see all human beings, all creatures as our own. Teach us to love all beings equally, in Thee.

Vows said to one another: Dear Beloved, I will be true to you as I pray always to be true to God. I will love you without condition, as I would be loved by you – and as we are ever loved by God. I will never compete with you; I will cooperate for our own, and for all others’ highest good. I will forgive you always, and under all circumstances. I will respect your right to see truth as you perceive it, and to be guided as you feel deeply within yourself. And I will work with you always, in freedom, to arrive at a common understanding. All that we do, may we do for God’s glory. May we live and grow together in His love and joy. And may the offspring of our union – whether human ­children or creative deeds – be doorways for the inspiration that we feel from Him, through each other. May our love grow ever deeper, purer, more expansive, until, in our perfected love, we find the perfect love of God.

Although you may not make these vows in a formal ceremony and you may make these vows only privately without other family members participating; these vows can change your consciousness in the relationship, which is the only thing we really can change.

In many relationships, there may be times of disharmony, challenge, and misunderstanding. Our part is to remain centered as much as possible and radiate love and goodwill. Yogananda gave us the Peace & Harmony prayer to help with this. Mentally repeat several times for a total of 45 seconds ‘Lord fill ________ (naming the person or situation where there is challenge) with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.’ Follow immediately by repeating for 15 seconds ‘Lord fill me with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.’ Yogananda said to do repeat this prayer 5 times per day and it will definitely work to reestablish peace and harmony with one another. I have used this prayer on many occasions and add my testimony that it really helps.

See if working with these attitudes and with the above prayer helps. Many blessings on you and your family.

Nayaswami Mukti