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Envision Yourself as You Are
Marianne: Hi, Jim, I’m sure you are enjoying India. I wish I were there. I would love to have your advice. I’m struggling a bit both with work and my parents. And a girlfriend suggested to me I’ve got the same patterns popping up in both areas and I’m creating all my problems. I was resistant at first to hear some of her feedback but can see truth in there, and once again wondering how to address these issues within my self-inquiry practice. I would love to talk with you about it.
I’ve been really relaxed about things trusting in Bhagavan (or trying to). I have realized that my personality is very scared/jittery/anxious about everything. However, when “relaxing,” as my friend says, I’ve been naive and not doing my job properly, which has resulted right now in chaos and being taken advantage of (charged words, I know). And she thinks these work issues mirror the situation with my family. At first, I was disgruntled with what she said, and then I could see her point.
So if I am mismanaging the business in similar ways that I mismanage things with my family, how active should I be in managing these vasanas? Or do I just let them do what they will and let them burn out?
My girlfriend suggested I listen to a coach who gets people to envision the future. I listened to this guy a little and thought it was helpful. I realized I can’t envision a nice, healthy relationship with my parents, for example (my imagination doesn’t seem that strong). The guy’s point is if you can’t envision the end destination, you will never get somewhere.
So really, I’m wondering, in this world of Vedanta, when vasanas come up and affect practical life (like my work with the students and their applications or things with my parents), and I can see behavior patterns that don’t serve me, what do I do? I do only observe and do the self-inquiry. I think that is partly why the patterns are more clear to me. Is working with a practical coach helpful? I haven’t listened to his work in depth yet, because I’m trying to first think about how this fits in with self-inquiry.
I am clear that my work problems or things with my parents can’t hurt me. So whatever happens, it’s all good. However, it’s been a month of constant problems (and successes) that are making me increasingly grumpy. And I can see my contributions to creating these situations. (I could describe some of the problems at work, but really, who cares? There are also huge successes at work and, I guess, who cares too?)
Same with my parents. Very grumpy about them. They started yelling at me, so I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas (I’ve seen them in between when they came to visit). I made it clear if I come home it’s going to be because I think I’ll enjoy myself and being yelled at is not conducive to that. Needless to say, for the first time in my life, I’ve hung up on them on the telephone dozens of times over the last month when Dad starts yelling. I don’t think they are appreciating my new interactions with them.
I am adverse to feeling grumpy, but life is feeling grumpy these days. Things with the student applications are messed up and my holidays have been more pleasant alone than with my parents, but filled with a lot of horrible phone calls (which I just keep hanging up). I also know it’s a new job, and really a new relationship with my parents. So an adjustment time is normal.
What do you think? Do I need to do a little work with a coach?
Jim: Hi, Marianne. I agree with your girlfriend. You can’t separate work and family, particularly since you are in the family business. I also don’t think the self-inquiry practice is suitable for this kind of problem. I don’t doubt that they are screwed up, but getting upset about it shows that you do not seem to understand that they – or you – would be the way they are if they could help it. These patterns are built-in, the result of a lifetime of conditioning. If you did, your contact with them would give rise to compassion and dispassion, which would insulate you from that kind of bad energy. It also seems that the karma yoga attitude is not working. Karma yoga means that you see the upside of things and enjoy your life, that you do what you do in a spirit of surrender and service.
It seems that you have never been weaned – or weaned yourself – from your family, so it seems to be a psychological problem. If you had individuated, you would not remain in such a hostile environment. It is a sign of low self-esteem. Do you feel a lot of resentment? What your thinking is about, staying there, is not clear. Is it some kind of twisted sense of duty? Is it power? Do you stand to control the business when your father dies? Are your parents wealthy, so you stand to inherit and are afraid of alienating them and thus losing the financial security? Are you a bit vain – maybe grandiose – and believe that you can save these people (like the poor Indian kids) and thus show yourself how virtuous you are? It does not sound like you are there out of love. Attachment seems to be more appropriate. I think the love thing needs looking into. Are you dating? Why not look for love where there is a reasonable chance of finding it? Are you lazy about digging up another job? Would you rather stick with the devil you know than take up with one you don’t? Are you just combative by nature and want to win? All of the above? None of the above? Some of the above? Maybe the problem is simply that you do not know how to communicate non-violently. Have you heard of NVC – Non-violent Communication? It works.
Definitely, you have to actively manage these vasanas. Knowledge will not sort this out. I also do not think that the envisioning thing will work. It is just escapism. This is a karmic situation brought on by years of habit. If you want to envision something, envision your self in a different environment altogether and then move on. To stay there where the karmic forces are so powerful and try to imagine a better outcome is vain. Or envision yourself as you are – already free – and turn this whole mess over to God.
The Vedanta is working. You are clear about the neurotic nature of the Marianne-person appearing in you, thanks to self-inquiry, but you have to bite the bullet. Maybe that Walmart job would have been better. Or working with an NGO in Sudan. It is not too late. I think the coach thing won’t work. I think you have to coach yourself. There are some hard choices that you are not making. If you really want to be free, you have to put your money where your mouth is and take charge of your karma.
Anyway, I hope this helps. Let me know what you think. It may take a while to reply. I am absolutely swamped. The satsang is forty-strong and growing daily. We already had to build another roof and may have to change the venue. People are coming from all over the world – Africa, Asia, Europe and America, etc. But I am holding up well, quite enjoying all the attention.
~ Much love, Jim