Your real partner is your soul. You are married to your soul, your spirit, or the God within. When you really have that spiritual awakening, your recognize that your first responsibility is to yourself—to know your Self. Everything and everybody is there to help you to reach that goal. You’re not alone. Anything or anyone that interferes in your practice is not your friend. Treat them as such, because they are obstacles to your spiritual growth. If they really loved you, they would be  interested in your welfare. If you want to live a clean, peaceful and service fully yogic life, and if you are criticized for that, you are not being loved by that person. If somebody sincerely loves you, they will be thinking of your benefit.

The Sannyas Upanishad clearly says that if anybody receives the call to seek the higher realm, to seek the Truth, let nothing and no one stand in your way. But if they are helpful, it’s fine to have them around. Everything you come into contact with, all your associations, your friend, and positions should help you toward this goal. This is the most important goal in your life. Anything that doesn’t help you is an impediment. At  the same time, this doesn’t mean that you should hate or dislike anyone or anything that seems to be in the way of your spiritual growth. Understand that those impediments have been put there to test you; to see whether you are genuinely interested in knowing who you are.

There is a little story that illustrates this point. A very rich man went regularly to temple services. Every time, he brought a lot of fruit to offer and he put a lot of money in the donation box. Because of this, the temple priest would keep the temple open very late for the man to come and pray. The man’s prayer was:

I am your devotee. Everything belongs to you, nothing is mine. I’m old now, so please release me from all these responsibilities and take me to Your Abode. My children are just waiting for me to die, and  nobody seems to be really interested in my welfare. You are my only refuge. When are you going to call me home?

He would come a few times each week and pray. The priest would wait until the man was finished because at the end, he would ask the priest to perform an arati. Then he would put a lot of gold coins in the tray, which went directly to the priest. Even with all that money, eventually the priest really got tired because the man would stay till midnight, and the priest had to come back again early in the morning to open the temple.

The priest began to wish that the man would finish praying a little earlier and so he went and told his wise friend about this problem. His friend came up with a solution. So, the following day, as usual, the man came and started praying. After a little while, he heard a voice: “My dear devotee, I have been waiting and watching all these days just to see your sincerity. I am now satisfied with your sincerity and  cannot delay anymore. I am ready to bring you to my abode; I’m ready to take you. “

The businessman did not expect this! He replied, “Everything I have is in the safe and I’m the only one who has the key. Before you take me, can I go and give the key to my son and then come back?”

“Sure, go ahead and I’ll wait here for you.”

The man never came back to the temple and the priest was happy. Don’t we all sometimes pray like that? I am thine, all is thine, I surrender my body, my intelligence my wealth. It doesn’t last even a day if it is mere verbal prayer! It should come from the very heart. Tests will come to see if you are really ready, really sincere. At the time of the test, you should prove that you are genuinely seeking to know the Truth. And sometimes God uses the people in your own family, as an impediment, as a test to see how strong you are.

Once Sri Ramakrishna said in a public lecture that if your spouse runs away with somebody else, you are the luckiest person! Why? You got liberated. You got your freedom. That means, that if there is a loss of any kind, don’t also lose your peace along with that. So, when things are ready to leave us, let them go and be free.

Remember, our first and foremost duty is to find the peace within. The things and people around us should help us to attain that goal. Don’t even let your religion, or your spiritual practices, interfere with your communication with the Divine. Be ready to renounce anything and everything, to save your peace.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda