Open Your Heart!

Every relationship needs to be nurtured with understanding and patience, writes DADA J P VASWANI

We cannot have ‘theories’ for everything — especially for getting along with people. No blueprint can give us a preplanned design to organise our lives with other people. Human beings are unique, perhaps somewhat illogical, and definitely unprogrammable. Each one of us is sensitive; each one of us is different; and each one of us is constantly variable — our mood and temperament change from day to day, maybe even from hour to hour.

Yet we have evolved into a society and community; a global habitat with families, institutions and corporations. This has been possible with time, a growing sense of awareness, and a great deal of understanding, tolerance, sympathy and mutual respect. Every relationship is unique and special. Parents, spouses, children, family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, superiors, subordinates, employers and employees — every relationship needs to be nurtured with understanding and patience.

The secret of successful relationships is found in an understanding heart, preferably your own. The secret of a harmonious and peaceful life is to focus on people’s merits and strengths — not on their weaknesses and defects. Baha’ullah, the Prophet of the Baha’i faith, said to his disciples, “If you find that there are nine vices and only one virtue in your neighbour, forget the nine vices, and focus only on the one virtue.” This is the secret of an understanding heart. See only the good in others.

When we focus on others’ faults, we only draw those negative forces unto ourselves. Fault-finding, constant criticism and magnifying the mistakes of others are poor, ineffective ways of changing the world. A sunny temperament and a healthy sense of humour can do wonders for you. Learn to laugh with others; try a smile or a kind word — you will find that wrongs are easy to set right, and ‘wrongdoers’ are set back on the right track.

When we constantly criticise others and find fault with them, we hurt them with tongue-lashes, which, in some cases, are worse than whip-lashes. Some of us insist on pointing a finger at other’s shortcomings. “Someone’s got to change all that is wrong with this world,” we proclaim. When I find fault with others, I regard myself as superior, better than the others. This is pride, egoism.

This must be overcome if we are to be truly happy.

There is a beautiful incident narrated to us by the Sufi poet Sadi. When Sadi was a young boy of six, his father, a dervish, took him to the mosque where a night-long vigil was being observed. As the night grew, Sadi found that one after another, the people who had assembled at the mosque began to fall asleep. Even the mullah had nodded off. Only Sadi and his father had remained awake.

The little boy whispered into his father’s ears, “Father, only you and I are keeping the vigil. All the others have fallen asleep.” Sadi’s father admonished him, “It is better to go off to sleep and not observe the vigil, rather than find fault with others and think ourselves superior.”

If you wish to be happy, you can begin by thinking, “Everybody has something good in him; there is something that I can learn from every human being.”

We have ingrained notions of what is right and wrong, what is proper and improper, what is acceptable and unacceptable. When we impose our narrow and harsh judgements on others, we condemn ourselves to a critical attitude and lose out on a lot of good cheer and joy that comes from being open-minded.

None of us is perfect. No man or woman can ever be perfect. Even Jesus said to us, “Call me not perfect. Alone, the father in heaven is perfect!” Marriage, friendship, any relationship or business partnership involves two imperfect human beings trying to live together, work together or establish a link. Unless we learn to accept people as they are, we will lose all possibility of finding happiness in our relationships. Approach people with love and understanding, and you will find the same reflected in their approach to you.

See the good in others. Utter kind words and loving thoughts about them. You will find that this has a healing effect on them and you. Harsh words and criticism cause people to shrink and wither. The happy, positive individual does not criticise; he does not find fault with others. If we, too, begin to see the good in others, we will keep growing better and better and our minds will always be at peace, and the world around us will smile.

■ Follow Dada J P Vaswani at

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