Karma Yoga and the Path to Freedom
I have been witnessing my attachment to having a relationship free of conflict with my grandchild Sierra's mother, Megan. Over a period of five years, our communication has been limited, and more often than not there has arisen misunderstanding, a few harsh words have been spoken, resulting in less communication and expression by the mother that she wants nothing to do with me. Of course, my fear is that she will block my ability to have a relationship with Sierra, if I say or do something that she does not like. Secondarily, I feel compassion for Megan and wish she could see me as an ally rather than an enemy. I have felt hurt and sad that she perceives me as an agitator, or worse as someone who doesn't have a clue to how she feels. In actuality, as a single mom myself, I can often empathize with her situation.
I have examined my past actions, and realize there are a few situations in which Megan could have been offended by something I said or did. In these instances I have explained and apologized for my offense. Although truly sorry for my part, I see just how attached I am to having a different outcome than the one that I keep getting. I feel like I am driven to find a solution that will bring harmony in our relationship. It seems inevitable that this friction will continue IF I don't do something to change it.
At the same time I am aware that this relationship is part of my karma, that Ishwara has brought this person into my life and that the practice of karma yoga is essential to finding the inner freedom and equanimity that can come with non-attachment to my egoic desires. I have experienced some levels of internal growth despite these outer circumstances; however, I still have been clinging to the hope that the outer situation is where the solution lies. I have given my faith to a situation that is anitya, and have been unable to place my faith in Brahman. Even though intellectually I know that both of us are Atman, I have not been able to let go of my desire for a change in circumstances.
Just in the last week, I have had an epiphany --- experiencing a new awareness about my own drive to have harmony in this relationship. I was assisted in this process by attending a support group focused on how co-dependence is active in my relationships and through the most recent Bhagavad Gita satsanghas. Through a series of exercises I was able to contemplate this situation with viveka and vaigragyam. I have had a sudden and profound insight that Megan and her drama is Me and my drama. We are battling the same phantom, but I had somehow made the assumption that “if only” I could change, or “if only” I could get her to see me for who I really am, then we would find resolution, and I would find the peace I was longing for.
As I perceived that Megan and I are one, I was able to see that we share a fear of abandonment and of not being seen. I have been trying to fix her, thinking that would resolve the inner fear that I carried. Now I am able to see the source of my fear from my adolescent and young adult years. I have carried it as a shadow, unable to shine a light on it, until now as I recognize that indeed it is just a shadow with no reality behind it. A great weight has been lifted as I am able to be in the flow without demanding the flow lead me to a desired outcome.
For now, I am experiencing equanimity in the face of the outer circumstances that have caused me pain and worry in the past. I am able to stand in a place of non-action, non-attachment, and confidence of the oneness (Brahman) that holds all of creation and its creatures. My mind feels clear and more able to recognize distraction from the oneness for what it is --- anitya. This includes my inner emotional attachment to proving that I am worthy so as not to be abandoned by those I love. I am free to act whole-heartedly and without attachment.
Literally the shadow has lifted and I am confident that through continued sadhana, I will be inspired to shine this inner bliss on any other circumstances that call for me to let go of the false projections that keep me away from experiencing my Self and remembering Atman in all creatures. In another situation, I notice that in having a conversation with someone in deep drama over family relationships, I am NOT prone to buy into the Maya of the situation, and take a position of trying to fix their predicament. I am aware of just how much stress I add to my life when things are not working out like I “think” they should. My relationship with Ishwara is where I want to focus, rather on those transitory ups and downs of outer circumstances.