Spiritualizing our relationships means decreasing our expectations and increasing our contributions

In every relationship, each party expects something and contributes something. When expectations exceed contributions, the relationship becomes strained.

When we become spiritual and connect with Krishna, the supreme spiritual reality, we naturally want our loved ones to become devotionally connected with him. This aspiration is laudable, but it has to be sensitively implemented. Otherwise, it may appear to others as just our increased expectation from them, thereby straining the relationship.

How can we prevent such strains in our relationships? By applying spiritual knowledge. The essence of spiritual knowledge is not a heightened zeal to convert, but a deepened service attitude. We are eternally parts of Krishna, meant to serve him lovingly. We serve him not just through direct devotional activities, but also through the humility we bring into our relationships, seeing others as parts of Krishna.

The Bhagavad-gita (13.08) indicates that humility is the beginning of knowledge. Humility, expressed in relational terms, implies decreased expectations and increased contributions. We ask others less, “What are you doing for me?” and ask ourselves more, “What am I doing for you?”

When we are humble, we don’t burden others with our expectations, even our spiritual expectations. We understand that just as we have our conditionings that obstruct our spiritual growth, others too have their conditionings, even if their conditionings appear trivial to us. Everyone is an individual soul, at their distinctive level of spiritual evolution, with its corresponding level of spiritual receptivity. We can’t force anyone to do anything. Even Krishna doesn’t force anyone. All he does is inspire others to choose wisely – and that is all we can do.

We can inspire others best by becoming more understanding and more contributive in our dealings with them. Seeing us positively transformed, they become more receptive towards the process that has transformed us

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