by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
I picked this book up in hopes of finding some insight into the Hindu beliefs and the caste system. As I read, I was delighted to see the common sense advice through story-telling and some insights into the Hindu way of life. I invite your respectful comments.
CHAPTER 1: The Jealous Older Brother- Positive Self-Concept
We are each created with some talent; some excel in math, some in language. We may be good at what we do, but there will come a time when someone is better. If I let my insecurity run unchecked, my jealousy may skew my perception of others. However, when I am secure in who I am, I realize there is always someone better at my skills. My value comes from the mix of who I am and the unique skills I can offer others.
How do you remind yourself of your uniqueness? How do you find confidence in who you are?
CHAPTER 2: Learning to Get Along – Perceptive Self-Correction
Long-time friends, and even siblings, find themselves in the middle of disputes. So naturally, I would love to blame someone else for any misunderstanding. I would like to think I am right and they are wrong. In reality, though, I have some contribution to the argument; I am at fault for not seeking the best interest of everyone involved in the disagreement. The first step in ‘self-correction’ is to agree we are doing something wrong; then, we can agree to steps of resolution.
How do you resolve conflicts or misunderstandings? How is it different between friends, siblings, and an acquaintance?
CHAPTER 3: Learning from a Bully – Powerful Self-Control
Anger rises when I am picked on and embarrassed. Sometimes in my struggle against finding revenge, my anger leaks out to those around me, those I love. It seems if someone is making my life miserable, I want to show I can control something, or someone, else. A bully rarely picks on someone their own size, only those they can exercise some control over, someone with whom they can win in conflict. This chapter reveals the best defense against being bullied is to ignore the bully; it takes self-control. Breaking the cycle of bullying stops with you and with me. When we employ self-control, we are an example to others and the bully.
How does returning violence to a bully work? If you saw the one who was bullying you being picked on, what would you do?
CHAPTER 4: The Professor’s Challenge – Profound Self-Confidence
Every project starts with a plan; build it in your head, then build it for real. An architecture professor challenged his students to know how things are made and what they are made of. The professor also expressed the best form of learning is based on practical lessons. Knowing how to design your idea for the real world helps develop your plans; the plans build reality.
What is your planning process? How do your plans translate into reality?
CHAPTER 5: Living a Fulfilled Life – Playful Self-Contentment
Gossip is spread by telling untrue stories; it is encouraged when someone listens to them. Likewise, complaining about things we do not have works against the things we do have. Some push themselves to achieve more; they work harder, strive more, and want something more. We are pushed, and we push others… we want to be bigger, better, stronger. But, what is the point if, by pushing, we become continually worried and upset in the present? Laughter, love, relationships, happiness… these are the real valuables. There is more to life than making money.
What are the things you truly value? How do you find contentment? Is there a healthy balance between growth, learning, and contentment?
CHAPTER 6: How Ganesha Saved Usha – Pious Character
Shallow religion breeds mere imitation; deep-held beliefs bring forth conviction and devotion. As opportunity arises, a shallow person may see only the immediate benefit for selfish gain; however, the devoted follower sees guidance, protection, and long-term, even eternal impact. As a kid, I was reminded of some deeply spiritual moments, but those moments are quickly dismissed or explained away as an adult. If my conviction and devotion were not mature, I might be tempted to walk away from the piety I know. Instead, I rely on my religion to provide wisdom and guidance in difficult times, even when things don’t turn out according to my expectations.
How deep would you say your faith is? How have your spiritual beliefs pulled you through difficult times?
CHAPTER 7: Little Miss Gandhi – Proficiency in Conflict Resolution
Siblings seem to invite conflict. Our most trusted ally becomes our most threatening adversary; they know where to hurt us most… and vice versa. As parents, we find it detrimental to settle disagreements between siblings. The best way to resolve a dispute is to negotiate, talking calmly about the problem until a solution is found that all parties can agree on. Step 1: listen – what is the other person trying to say? If needed, step 2: mediation – having someone step in to help find a solution.
The book offers an example of friendship evangelism (acting to be someone’s friend as a lure to convert them into your own religion) as an opportunity for conflict resolution; some people feel deceived and manipulated by the method. In religion, deeply held beliefs can be blamed for many conflicts. How would you work through a conflict with someone from another belief or religion?
CHAPTER 8: The Value of a Hug – Parental Closeness
Chasing the American dream… is it a real thing? Is your desire worth the effort or sacrifice? Making sacrifices for a relationship is hard but absolutely beneficial. Family life on one income is almost unheard of these days, and yet the families find themselves with far more significant relational benefits than those who strive to get more toys and make more money.
What value does a relationship have to you? How do you prioritize relationships in your life over things, status, or work?
CHAPTER 9: Ravi Meets Jasmine – Prejudice-Free Consciousness
Prejudice taints healthy relationships. Cultural exchanges, societal pressures, and traditional values lead to prejudice. The divine soul lives in a body, in different races and cultures.
How do you press past prejudice and find out who the person you’re relating to?
CHAPTER 10: Making Our Marriage Work – Preserving Commitments
Marriage as a commitment (versus a contract) means that I commit to my spouse, regardless of how they act. A contract, on the other hand, offers a loophole to the agreement or arrangement. If one party fails to uphold its end of a bargain. Marriage seems to invite difficulty, trials, and struggles. However, in a committed marriage, divorce is not an option. In case of a major argument or disagreement, return to your spiritual values and remind yourself of your commitments. One way is to write a note of your problems and then burn the note. In a repeated fashion, this will clear the subconscious mind of the negative emotions. Husbands, remember, you are responsible for your wife’s security and contentment; keep her happy. The ingredients for a successful marriage are mental and emotional compatibility, family approval, blessings, and good wisdom and advice.
How do you describe marriage commitment as a priority in today’s cultures? How does an arranged marriage work differently than a ‘love’ marriage? What can the partners of a ‘love’ marriage learn from an arranged marriage (and vice versa)?