I want my brother back in my life….
September 26, 2009 § 1 Comment
A while back, a woman stopped by my office in Manhattan at the Himalayan Institute to ask me a few questions. You might think, “here comes another story!” Yep, stories are very easy to read, remember, and reflect upon. If you study any ancient culture, you will find loads of stories. There is a branch of Tantra where the story telling is used for passing on knowledge, but most importantly, for preserving the eternal knowledge of the great masters of the Himalayas in voluminous work called the Puranas.
It is a simple story, but you will learn something of a great value. The woman told me, “I want my brother back in my life. I do not know what happened, but lately we have been fighting with each other. We are no longer speaking to each other. Every time we get on the phone, we complain about each other and end up slamming the phone on each other.”
“Let me stop you right there,” I interjected calmly. ”What you just told me says that you had a great relationship with your brother, and somehow it has been spoiled to the point of no return — am I correct so far?” I had to ask this question.
“What prompted the rot in your relationship?” I asked.
She looked puzzled and replied, “I am not sure!”
“Hum!” I groaned a bit. “Do you really want your brother back in your life, or are you curious to know what happened between the two of you?” I was inclined to narrow the subject at hand to save time for both of us.
“No, no, I really want my brother back in my life. I love him to death”.
“Why don’t you write a letter to your brother…” Before I had finished the statement, she reacted. “No, he is not going to read it. Believe me, I know it.”
“Do you see where the problem lies?” I had to point out, “Your brother might be reacting the same way. Neither of you are at fault and yet both of you are fighting? Does it make any sense to you? With whom are you two fighting? You are fighting with yourself, but of course, with no one else.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Do you want your brother back in your life or not?” I pressed her a bit.
“Yes, I do!”
“Would you do as I ask you to do?”
“Yes,” she answered with hesitation, she wasn’t completely sure!
“Write to him saying that you are younger, and you may have erred somewhere. You have a lot to learn in this world. You are counting on an older brother to correct any errors and teach a little sister how to be the best in this world.”
“He is not going to read, believe me”. She had her doubts but couldn’t disagree with me any more.
“Do you want your brother back in your life or not?” I was nearly yelling at her before she got drowned and sucked in a whirlpool of doubt and despair.
“Yes!” She was taken aback a bit.
“Then, do as I say and ye shall have your brother back in your life.” A sage counsel within me had risen to the occasion. “Play the underdog even if you have not erred. Ask his forgiveness and ask him to be the big brother that he is and have him stand by you. Where am I wrong? You do understand that, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” she saluted me. Then she disappeared as quickly as she had walked into my office.
Weeks later, she stopped by my office and beaming with joy, proclaimed her triumph. “You were so right. I wrote exactly the way you had asked me to and guess what? He phoned me back upon receiving my letter, and he is coming to see me here in New York. He is taking me out to dinner and then to a movie. I thank you so much for everything you have done for me.”
“Isn’t that something? See how simple things are? Enjoy your time with your brother. May God bless you both.”
“I intend to!” I never saw her again.
You might ponder and inquire: “What did I really learn from this story?” Well, one thing is for sure. The relationships that we build in this world are the most precious resource we have. Work hard to maintain them but do not become a doormat. You came empty-handed and you shall go empty-handed when you depart from this planet. What matters is what you leave behind. Relationships are at the top of the chart. What am I missing?
Thank you for this beautiful story. The teachings it contains are SO important… for our intimate relationships, our families, and also our nations and ethnic groups in conflict. The world is full of such resentments based on “fighting with ourselves”…
A few questions (you know me!):
Can you explain more about what you meant by telling the woman: “you are fighting with yourself”? It makes sense, but I want to know more.
Maybe the woman’s lower “ego self” was in conflict with her higher needs and spirit? Or she neglected to see that “I am my brother are ONE”? If so, why do people carry such a strong primitive instinct to push loved ones away when they feel hurt, instead of creating closeness?
And why is the act of humility key to relationships? For example, do you think the woman would still improve her relationship with her brother if her brother had not read the letter? Does her act of self-surrender bring some level of intimacy, regardless of whether her brother accepts her surrender?