The most difficult thing to do is to live in peace and harmony with people. It is, perhaps, easier to live with birds and animals. Why is living with people a problem?
We know that fire is hot and we accept that fact. If we are burnt by touching fire, we do not blame it. If a whole house is burnt down, we may condemn other factors or blame our negligence, but would accept fire as it is. Its place is undeniable and it is not rejected. Similarly, we accept the coolness of ice, the beauty of flowers, fruits, trees and plants. Again, if we are admiring a beautiful, full moon and someone else comes and starts appreciating it, we don't say, "Why are you looking at my moon? You have no right to see it!" There is no sense of ownership, no possessiveness; there is acceptance without any projection of likes and dislikes.
The Bhagavad Gita says that a wise person moves everywhere with love and affection Like the wind blowing freely, he does not get attached to anything. He accepts all. Sometimes people behave nicely, sometimes they don't . This neither elates nor depresses the wise person. "Such a man of wisdom lives with his senses under control, free from personal likes and dislikes, and therefore, enjoys every object, place, situation and person" .
Also, we find it difficult to live with people because we have too many expectations of them. If i expect something of another, that person may also expect something of me. Furthermore, i am unable to fulfil my own expectations of myself. I want to do so many things, but i am unable to do them. Thus, we feel disappointed and frustrated with ourselves, and aggrieved or upset with others when they fail to satisfy our expectations. I saw a sticker that said, "Don't try to change me. Accept me as i am" .
It is important to understand the message clearly and completely. The message is that one should accept the fact as it is. Then if a change is necessary, try to make that change, but do not insist on it. Every parent wants the child to perform well and excel whether in sports or in studies. There is nothing wrong with that. But, to expect something that may not be possible for the child to do, and unnecessarily apply pressure and force, will cause frustration to all.
When one is living with people it may not be possible to have no expectations at all, so one should have reasonable expectations. An artistically inclined child with no aptitude for commerce should not be forced into the family business. Expectations should be reasonable and based on knowledge and wisdom.
As far as nature or the moon is concerned, we do not feel a sense of ownership or possessiveness. But with regard to people this feeling is deep seated and can be very destructive What we need to have is love and affection. Along with that there should be freedom and space, too. Two hands joined together leave a gap and can be easily separated. Similarly, we should give space to people. Often we hear people say, "Give me some space please!" If you love a bird, will you cage it and expect it to be happy? It is not possible to love someone and also confine them in that love.
By Swami Tejomayananda