Inner Feelings and Relationships

(Harmonious relationship is one of the major aims of collective living. What is the main factor which can bring this harmony to our communal life? It is the inner feelings behind our speech, behavior and actions. This article examines this factor in a Yogic perspective.)

The quality of a relationship depends on the nature of the inner feeling behind outer speech and behavior. If it is good and sincere, the relationship remains warm and genuine, even when there is no outer contact or relationship in the form of talking, joking or laughter, and the social courtesies such as wishing ‘good morning’ or the material gifts we give to others are not mere empty or formal things but a spontaneous expression of the inner feelings. But even when such kindly outer gestures are not there, it doesn’t affect the inner feeling because we understand each other. However, when inner feelings are uncharitable, openly or aggressively or remain in a subtle, mute and suppressed form, for example, anger, dislike, scorn, irony, sarcasm, resentment, disapproval, disdain, superiority or derogatory comment, then the relationship inwardly breaks down and no amount of outer gestures of friendship and benevolence can restore the relationship. A relationship which begins with a good inner feeling may breakdown later because of darkening of the feeling created by misunderstanding, conflict or negative influences from outside such as listening to gossip, criticism or slander. And the feelings are contagious. Negative feelings in me can induce a similar feeling in the other person and destroy whatever good feelings I have for him.

It is not easy to hide the inner feelings. They are visible on the face, in our eyes or in the way we talk. Even someone with a little bit of inner sensitivity can sense it. We sometimes complain about a person that he is uncommunicative and indifferent to our presence or our attempts to relate with him. But we don’t ask whether it is due to something negative or insincere within us. For example, we ask questions pretending to know, when we have already formed definitive conclusions and judgments about it.

How to set right uncharitable feelings? There are practical guidelines in the writings and conversations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The first step is to not to identify with the negative feelings. There needs to be an inner detachment from the feelings and observe it as a witness, and not to allow them to influence or drive our thoughts, judgements, speech, behaviour or actions. The second step is the non-judgemental attitude, that is, acceptance of the person as he or she is without judgement. For an enlightened humanity, which knows that it doesn’t comprehend the entire truth or the inner being of a person and the judgements based on the appearance, nature and character of the surface being, this knowledge can be very un-inhibiting. This attitude can considerately reduce or minimize hasty or uncharitable judgement which in turn has a positive impact on the feelings. The third step is to cultivate the ‘opposite’ which means, as the Mother (CWM, Vol. 14, p. 206) describes, “Discover in your nature the opposite way of being (benevolence, humility, goodwill) and insist that it develops to the detriment of the contrary element.”

M. S. Srinivasan

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