By Suma Varughese December 2011 A mantra that had awakened her 20 years ago is now coming to life once again and helping her envisage conflict-free relationships, says Suma Varughese. Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, seeker, latent crusader and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.orgAbout 20 years ago, I received a spiritual awakening. The use of a mantra would immediately shift me out of my ego. The mantra was, “My focus is on the other’s happiness and not mine.” Each time I chanted this, I could feel a physical shift in perspective, as if my mind had moved from my head to somewhere roughly betwixt and between the other and me. From this vantage view, I was more detached from my own needs, feelings and thoughts and closer to the other. I could arbitrate between the two – me and the other – dispassionately and effortlessly arrive at win-win solutions. And then it all left me. I realised that my awakening had come only to prod me to move on the path and to realise that beautiful state of being for myself. All through the journey, my sacred talisman has been this: My focus is on the other’s happiness, my growth and the moment. For all these long and difficult years, the felt meaning of these words had left me. Of late, however, their shape and meaning are becoming clearer. I am recognising that focusing on the happiness of the other boils down to two or three key principles. One is that one permits the other to be fully himself or herself. One gives them complete space to express themselves. One no longer rebels at their words, actions, or facial expressions. They have the God-given right to be themselves and that is how it should be. All conflict drops when we realise that we want the other to be as he or she is and not as we want them to be. Secondly, we actively work to secure their welfare. Now that we are no longer resisting what they say or how they say it, it is easier to be with what they say. And if the demand or expectation is reasonable, one simply goes with it. Recently, my mother’s help took me by surprise by demanding a bonus accompanied by a threat that she would leave work unless she got it. Since she is a day wager earning handsome wages, I had never considered that she was entitled to a bonus. For an hour or two I stewed over her ‘unreasonable’ demand and threat, until I asked myself what the situation would be like if I took myself out of the picture. It then boiled down to someone making a demand and my only task then was to see if it was reasonable and if it was in their interest to grant it. The other has the God-given right to be himself and that is how it should be. This focus on the welfare of the other safeguards you from weakly submitting to all demands, no matter how outrageous. It is not in the interest of the other to be permitted to become a bully or a tyrant. It is not in the interest of the other to be permitted to walk all over someone. Thus we say and do what we must in the interest of the other even if it means refusing what they want. The way we say it and the words we use will convey that we are coming from a non-egoic space and that will make them receptive to the message. I have only just entered this domain and the terrain is still uncharted but the thought of finally having conflict-free relationships is making me sag with relief.
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