Relationships are deeply important to our wellbeing as women. When our relationships with friends, career associates, spouses, parents, siblings, or children are trouble-ridden, it’s as if the foundation of our life is shaky. When our relationships are harmonious, we breathe more easily. Wouldn’t it be great to have anxiety-free, stress-free relationships with everyone, no matter their orientation toward living and how it may differ from our own?
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the worldwide Transcendental Meditation program, simply and clearly explains how to have fruitful relationships in his book Science of Being and Art of Living. In a section called Art of Behavior, Maharishi said:
“The art of behavior means acting in such a way that both parties involved enjoy the behavior and it brings satisfaction to both. They gained from the behavior to the utmost degree, they gain energy and joyfulness; the quality of love increases and evolution is helped. This is the art of behavior. Both parties, as the result of behavior, should find their life fruitful, find their life fulfilled, and find their behavior a means to evolution.
It is the art of behavior that not only influences the surface values of life and makes both parties happier and better in all ways, but also touches the inner core of life and makes it advance on the higher levels of evolution.
The purpose of social behavior is to give and take help for mutual benefit. One should meet the other either to give or take. No, mainly to give, and when the two meet to give the best of themselves to each other, then both gain the maximum. On the contrary, if both meet and expect the maximum from each other, each in his attempt to gain from the other has closed his door to giving, and thus no one gains from the relationship except disappointment, resulting in tension on both sides.
The basic fundamental of behavior should be to give. When you are going to meet someone, think what you are going to give him, whether it be a concrete gift of a beautiful object, words of greeting, warm sympathy, praise, adoration, love, elevating advice, or good news for his body, mind, or soul. There must be something for you to give when you meet someone. Just a “hello” and “how do you do” cannot produce a wave of love and joyfulness at the meeting. The art of behavior is such that the first moment of the meeting should have a real value of the meeting of the two hearts.
Thus, we find that the first fundamental in the art of behavior is: meet with warmth, and meet to give. Behavior should be on the level of giving. “In giving, you receive” is a common saying; it has great truth in it. If all the people in a society behaved on this level of giving, social behavior could only result in the advancement and glorification of everyone’s life. Giving is the basic formula of the art of behavior.
This sincere sense of giving can only arise on the level of contentment. The contented hearts and minds alone can think in terms of giving. This eternal contentment can only come through the development of bliss consciousness, which can only be developed quickly through Transcendental Meditation.
The art of behavior is becoming a growing concern in today’s society. How one should behave with another—the problem of societal relationships—is a growing problem in the world today, because the qualities of heart and mind are not given a fair chance to develop. Social relationships should always be a means of joy. They can become a problem only when the very fundamentals of life are not understood. In order to behave properly with others, one has to think clearly and have clear and good intentions; a decent way of life of one’s own. One should have qualities of tolerance, love, kindness, and joyfulness in one’s own nature.
If tolerance is not there, ill feelings and disharmony result. Take the example of someone making an ill-humored remark. If one is not able to withstand the remark without reacting to it, in the repercussion that follows, ill feelings spring up and the social relationship is spoiled. If a man does not have the quality of love, if his heart is hard, he begins to hate the person who has offended him.
It is the love of a mother for her child that makes her look kindly upon his mistakes. In fact, a mother enjoys the mistakes of the child because, when he commits a mistake, she is able to give him more of her love. In that love, the child grows to be better able to overcome the weakness of committing mistakes. This is how, by the tolerance and love of the mother, the child improves and the art of behavior is naturally infused in him.
Joyfulness is a quality that cultivates and spread love. And again, that is the result of the overflowing love of the heart. Joyfulness, love, kindness, and tolerance should be cultivated. With all these qualities comes the contentment and overflowing love of the heart and mind which is the basis of good social relationships.
What is the shortest way to the art of behavior? Language is one expression of behavior; we could polish the language. Good manners are part of the art of behavior, but good manners come only from the method of raising the children. Children of good families are trained in better behavior. But the root of the art of behavior lies in the polished state of one’s mind. The refined state of mind depends, as we have seen, upon the system of Transcendental Meditation, wherein the conscious mind is brought into communion with the bliss of absolute being. Thus, the basis of the art of behavior is that technique of bringing the mind to the bliss consciousness of transcendental being. This leaves both parties in added joyfulness, energy, love, and harmony, while, at the same time, it creates an influence of peace, harmony, joyfulness, and freshness in the atmosphere. The individuals gain and the universe gains through the art of behavior.
Really good behavior will be possible only when the minds of both of the parties are broadened, when they are able to see the whole situation, understand each other more thoroughly in their true perspective, and succeed in locating the needs of the other and formulating their behavior on the basis of attempting to fulfill those needs. This naturally necessitates expanded consciousness and right sense of judgment and all the qualities that only a strong and clear mind possesses.
Small minds always have a very narrow vision and they fail to perceive the total situation; in their narrow vision they create imaginary obstacles and close themselves in their narrow scope of imagined forms, which are useful neither to themselves nor to anyone else. Then their behavior with others only results in misunderstanding and increase of tension. This shows that the fundamental of good social behavior is the strong, clear, and contented mind of the individual, which as we have seen in the part on “Mind and the Art of Being” (see page 98) easily develop through the simple system of Transcendental Meditation.
The minds of both parties should be established on the level of Being or Being should be established on the level of both parties so that the bliss, contentment, and joyfulness of Being are in the heart and mind of each. Then behavior becomes a means of adding to joyfulness, love, kindness, tolerance, and all other virtues. Such behavior produces radiations of peace and harmony in the surroundings. The art of behavior is best expressed when not only the two parties that engage in behavior gain, but the entire atmosphere is thrilled with the influence of love, kindness, harmony, and peace.”
Completed in 1963, the Science of Being and Art of Living is a systematic investigation into the ultimate reality of the universe. Like other sciences it begins its investigation from the gross obvious level of life and delves more deeply into the subtle levels of the experience of Nature, eventually reaching the transcendental field of eternal Being—the source of all life. The Art of Living is the art of letting Being express itself in such a manner within us that every aspect of our life is supplemented with intelligence, creativity, power, and wholeness.
Reading Maharishi’s book will give you the key to good health, right action, clear, effective thinking and speaking, and life in freedom—all based on the experience of the transcendent field of Being located within you during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the USA.