By Nayaswami Dharmadevi Romano
July 24, 2018
A major pitfall in life, not to mention the spiritual path, is an attitude of entitlement. Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Who does he think he is?” or “What makes her think she can talk to me that way?” or “I deserve better than that!” or “Surely, I don’t have to do that!” (Note italics for emphasis!)
To survive “Entitlement Entanglements” try the following:
Realize that no one owes you anything and you’re not too good for any circumstance. Swami Sri Yukteswar said, “Those who are too good for this world are adorning some other. So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service.” Therefore, remedy this entitlement entanglement by practicing selfless service.
Think about what you can give, rather than what you deserve. I was recently deeply inspired by a friend at Ananda who offered part of his salary in order to create a salary for a new member. Similarly, during a Christmas banquet at Mt Washington, the disciples gave up their seats as the attendees outgrew their table. Paramhansa Yogananda said afterward how much he appreciated their giving spirit. It isn’t just that having a willing, selfless spirit helps others or creates for us admirers. Nishkam Karma (action without the desire for the fruits of action) helps us transcend the ego.
Remember, no matter how bad you have it, someone else has it worse. Interestingly, people who have the least (materially speaking) are usually the happiest in the world. Probably the worst entitlement entanglement is that of becoming so self-absorbed that we fail to realize the plight of others. We heal poverty consciousness not by earning more money but by sharing generously with others.
Tell yourself daily, “No one and no thing belongs to me.” Everything is on loan to us from Divine Mother. Every person in your life, most importantly your significant other, has his or her own free will, karma, and decisions to make in life. Acceptance of another person’s reality unravels the entitlement entanglement of feeling that someone should treat you the way you “deserve to be treated.” Disappointments come when we have expectations and don’t accept things as they are. “Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you. Reflect that someday you will suddenly have to leave everything in this world so make the acquaintanceship of God now,” Lahiri Mahasaya told his disciples.
Finally, all praiseworthy success is balanced by a blameworthy failure. We live in a world of duality – for every up, there is an equal down. Therefore, don’t seek worldly success… don’t wish for the praise of men, as it will always end in blame. Seek the love of God, to please Him, and for His will to be done through you. Remember that you are only living and breathing because He wills it so. Give all praise and blame equally to God as the Doer of all things. As Yoganandaji said, “Praise cannot make me any better, nor blame any worse. I am what I am before my conscience and God.”