“Seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.”—Arjuna, the Bhagavad Gita
Today, as I look into my mother’s furious eyes, I feel the temerity of Arjuna. He is the great warrior in the Bhagavad Gita who must go to battle and slay his relatives, friends and teachers.
My mother is 85 years old, a dear friend. I am her primary caregiver as she negotiates the perils of losing her sight and breath.
“I’ve already given you so much,” she says to me as I sit at her bedside. “I don’t see why I should also pay you.”
About six months ago, when her needs increased, I asked her to pay me for the time I spend managing her household. Though she went along with this plan, she is now struggling with it. Her idea of family is that, out of a sense of dutiful love, we go to any lengths to take care of one another.
Her anger strikes like a spear through my heart. It is true, she has given me a great deal, but I too have given to her. While she has always been a strong advocate of my writing and life path, I helped her through cancer, addiction and suicidal grief.
So as I sit across from her and look at the fire in her eyes, I shiver.
In this moment, I am slaying the concept of family love.
I call on the Divine and ask why this came up. I see that a part of me is also uncomfortable with the arrangement. Though she can afford to pay me, the notion goes against my concept of what a dutiful daughter should be.
It is time to pull out my bow and arrow.
“Mom,” I say. “I love you and cherish the time we spend together (for which she doesn’t pay me). But I have given up writing work in order to care for you, and I need to be compensated.”
There have been times—many—when I gladly sacrificed all harmony, and my connection to God, in order to help my family. That is no longer the case. I now know that in order to give love, I have to give to myself first.
Slowly, the angry crease leaves her brow, and she once again looks lovingly upon me with her sparkly blue eyes.
We are all Arjunas, poised at the edge of a battlefield of our life creation. Our job is to take the Beloved’s hand, wield our bows and arrows, and slay these illusions that we hold most dear.
“Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth,” says the 19th-century satirist Ludwig Börne.
Family itself is an illusion. In truth, my mother is not my mother, as I wrote in a previous post. She is really a soul with whom I share karma.
We are soul, nothing but the essence of the Divine ocean.
Only upon illusion’s grave can we be free. And when we are graced with this freedom, a funny thing happens: We can fully enjoy life.
All transmutes into love.
At the end of the day, Mom and I order takeout food and laugh together.
And the photo? That is my kitty, Arjuna, with her hunter’s eyes.
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Beautiful Lesley! Thank you, I love this reflection of how we administer to and love our own lower bodies through your interaction with your mom. For the Master’s love and the sound transform all things and your channeling is sooo very inspiring!! SO much gratitude and appreciation for all of it!
Thank you, Debra. What you say is so true. My mother has always reflected my emotional body, and I am no longer willing to give up my harmony for my emotions’ sake. I so appreciate you deepening my understanding of this! Blessings, dear friend.
O dear Lesley, thank you so much for this post. It is certainly timely for me. I appreciate your ability to speak so beautifully to something that can be at once confusing and difficult, while necessary and liberating. Often life doesn’t look the way we expect it to look. Blessings to you!
You are so right. For me, family can bring on the most confusion of any challenge. But over time even its illusion begins to break apart, leaving the love from which the whole structure was born. Thank you!
Blessings Lesley. You have shown a lot of inner strength and truth. Your mother is getting it, is she not? Keep it up dear friend.
Thank you, Thomas. Yes, she is getting it, as am I. Happy to know that all is for our unfoldment.
Beautiful! It hits us where we fear to live. You have created a little masterpiece here, Lesley. And I love the picture of Arjuna! What a beautiful profile she has!
Yes, Rudy, family karma really is where I fear to live. But as I become more willing to BE in it, with the Beloved, I see what a puffball even it is.
Loved reading this, Lesley, and your new website is beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you, Felicia. I’m so happy that we get to share this blogging endeavor. You definitely inspire me!
I am moved to tears.
You. Are. A. Warrior Goddess.
Ah, Elizabeth. That means so much to me. The writing you have done about family still touches me whenever I think of it. So, thank you! You are definitely seeing the Warrior Goddess in yourself too. Blessings to you, dear friend.
What insight…to see the spiritual aspect of your interactions with your mother.
And what courage…to share It with the rest of us so that we may be inspired to slay whatever “illusions that we hold most dear.”
Thank you, Joan. I so appreciate your feedback, from someone who is doing some major slaying right now, with your move. You are as brave as Arjuna.
Lesley, thanks for the post…I am currently trying to tell my Dad to pay my brother a regular amount for staying here with him…and he too can afford to do so, yet thinks the $20 bill he hands him occasionally should suffice.
Your post gives me courage to take the next step, whatever it is to insist that Dad somehow compensate my brother. Interestingly Dad feels sorry for my bro, knowing he’d prefer to be elsewhere, and that he is doing a duty (dharma?) but the idea of paying him doesn’t seem right to Dad. Some might say that it should be up to my brother, but I have been overseeing ‘Dad’s funds, and I feel it is my dharma to get my bro “combat pay,” which is what I perceve it to be. Our family karma is shared among all of us, according to our abilities.
May your mom’s bright blue eyes sparkle with love with the Divine’s love for you til they close for the last time!!
Sheila, You are definitely a warrior on your brother’s behalf. My brother supports me fully in my request for payment and that gives me a great deal of strength. And thank you for the blessings for my mom. You know what a special soul she is. I’m so happy to see you commenting here!
This post is so true, and so courageous, and so needed by many. I love the comments that it has sparked as well, and the continuing clarity that unfolds there! What a beautiful, healing piece… and I love your picture of Arjuna, such a perfect name for a kitty (we have 4 warriors ourselves). Much love to you for your clarity and way with words! xo
Thank you, Sunni. When I wrote this, I hoped it might give courage to others who tend to give too much. The landscape for family care is so different today. Where once upon a time, the husband worked and the wife/daughter had (some) time to care for the parent, now most of us work, and so all has shifted, while many parents still cling to the old. I would love to see photos of your warriors sometime.
I wept as I read your article, not knowing why. Perhaps it would be better to say not wanting to know why. Yet our Beloved took me on a trip where i closed doors. I grew up the youngest of 12, making and breaking bonds along the way. Upon coming on the Path I was utilized to have a brother and a sister also walk the Path (both dear to me). Now we rarely speak, but our love is Stronger than ever.
I so enjoy reading your blog. So interesting how we can touch so many when sharing something personal. Our life is like an unfinished painting on a canvas. The people, places, and experiences are the colors on the palette. Our inspiration is The Beloved within.
I am loving your artwork sweet Lesley.Your devotion and Inspiration shine through so richly…Thank you…:-)
Wow, Logan, thank you so much for your beautiful note. What an amazing life you’ve had to be part of such a large tribe, and how wonderful that you were part of your siblings’ journey into truth. Sometimes, it seems, our karma with certain family members is one day, simply, done. That seems to have been true with my sister, who died when we both were in our twenties. I love that notion of the experiences being the colors of our palette. I will cherish that one!
What strong writing about a difficult situation. I’m happy to hear that your brother supports you on this. It’s important; claiming what you are deserved (compensation). It’s a timely lesson for me, because I find I’m putting in 3-7 times more hours writing patents than I’m charging my clients. And, fear is at the base of it. And, lack of self-esteem: “I’m not worth being paid the full amount I deserve”.
And, Slaying the Illusion of family is timely; as I seriously consider a formal separation from my wife of 26 years. I need to live alone and suffer alone; I’m quickly dying here in this big house full of bad memories, physical pain, guilt, and sad illusions. So, I take strength from your standing up to your Mother. That’s a huge thing you did, and I’m proud of you.
As always, Lesley,your beautiful writing is both moving and thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts!
Bob, Thank you for your honest comment. You are very brave negotiating the challenge you are in. Just know that you are completely loved and that there is a purpose to your pain that someday will be revealed.
You are very welcome Lesley. Nothing belongs to us and in that way we lack nothing and have everything. So I humbly accept your thanks.
Oh and happy belated fourth…I could not say it then I was out enjoying freedom. 🙂
In our Lover’s Grace.
Logan, what you say is worth repeating–pure poetry: Nothing belongs to us and in that way we lack nothing and have everything. I think that will go in my quotable quotes file. Thank you for the reminder!
We are all Arjunas, poised at the edge of a battlefield of our life creation. Our job is to take the Beloved’s hand, wield our bows and arrows, and slay these illusions that we hold most dear. Lesley S. King
Another beautifully written piece. Lesley, you did it again. You showed me how significant our daily experiences are. Be it cleaning the sink, or spending time with our loved ones they each hold a great lesson to be valued, learned from, shared. Kudos, dear friend.
And many more healthy and happy years to your Mom:)
Yared, you are so kind. Yes, it is so true, our daily experiences really are our greatest adventures, and, at times, our most challenging ones. I see this message again and again in your posts, and am happy that we share this Divine viewpoint. Blessings to you!
Thank you for this story. I can so relate to what you said about being a dutiful daughter. It’s good that you were able to conclude that discussion with your mom with takeout food. Thank you for your authentic and poetic voice, Lesley. Many Blessings, Alice
Alice, I know how strong you have had to be in order to be true to yourself among family and cultural ties. Your story always strengthens me. Blessings, dear friend.
Such a powerful story, Lesley. Thank you for sharing it and providing much food for contemplation. I love what you are doing with your work in the world. Wonderful!
Thank you, Elsa. That means a lot coming from one of my most creative friends. We can definitely inspire each other.
Thank you Leslie for sharing your experience with your Mom, and Thank you Garji , for connecting me with this message. Perfect for my trip to visit my 84 years in this physical world Mom. Feeling the swirl of thoughts, issues, tendencies, and GROWTH, as I embark on this experience…from HIM….for me:) I have thoughts of when my Soul was making plans to return to a physical body to wrap up all that is needed ….and with guidance I “chose” this “Mom”. All is perfect.
Deb, I very much appreciate your love-filled musings on “Mom.” Once I even begin to let go of an identity such as “daughter,” everything shifts. Blessings on your journey!