While hermits and spiritual persons may choose to restrict interactions with other humans and focus on nature and the universe, most humans in their journey through life have to interact with huge number of persons - family, friends and associates.
Children do not get much choice in the humans they interact with in life. It is decided for them, in the main, by fate and circumstance, from the family they inherit to others. However as we grow up, we may choose the people in our lives and the extent we deal with them. This choice has a huge impact on the way our life turns out to be. Ancient sages have pondered on the subject. Perhaps the most precise and brief recommendation on this is due to the ancient sage Patanjali, the father of yoga.
Happy, sad, pure and sinful are four types of souls. In these it is best to cultivate, friendship, sympathy, admiration and avoidance respectively. Patanjali, On Yoga, Ch1, Vs 33
It must be noted that recommendations of Patanjali are directed towards making human lives happier and more evolved. Those who are interested in choosing their journey to become more miserable or of nostalgia wish to return their souls back to levels of insects and animals from which they arose must do the opposite of what Patanjali recommends.
For others, this recommendation implies that it is best in life to cultivate friendships and associations with persons who are in the main happy and cheerful persons. On the other hand, persons who are depressed and sad are best sympathized with and helped if possible but one’s interaction with them may be minimized otherwise.
Souls that are inclined towards purity, love and truth are worth admiring and emulating while those inclined to lies and hate are sinful and best avoided. If you associate with them, they shall harm you and lead you to misery.
These brief recommendations apply not just to friends and associates but also to one’s family. Any of the four types may exist within that for evil persons too belong to a family. My mother was a cheerful, happy and pious lady through much of her life and it was indeed a blessing to have been granted such a mother by the Lord although the same cannot be said for all the members of my family. Her strong ethical code in life dictated that she speak no ill words about any family member to another. However, on her death bed in 1999, when I was alone with her briefly she passed on two bits of advice.
The first was an admonishment for not being more careful with my finances. I have been quite careless about the same through most of my life. The second was a veiled warning to be careful, that there was a snake in the family and I must find out who it is and be careful. Her code of ethics prevented her from revealing the name. Her use of the word snake is a reference to the kind of persons who do grave harm to others from behind their backs for no special reason except because it is in their evil nature to do so. It took me many years to determine with near certainty the identity of this family member after a careful consideration of facts as also other things she had said while she lived. Generally one assumes the best of people one deals with if one is made that way especially if one is a family member.
How is one to protect oneself from evil persons if one does not know that they are evil in secret and are laying snares and nets behind your back to harm you? Other wise persons have made suggestions for this. Do not worry and do not give up your path of goodness and straight forwardness. The Lord shall protect you then and evil doers shall get trapped in the very snare they prepare for you; those who are digging a pit for you shall fall into that very pit themselves. The best you can do for them when you discover them besides avoiding them is to pray that they too return to path in life that produces peace and happiness for them rather than misery. In fact they do not really have a choice in the matter for long because a deep dark bottomless pit lies at the end of their currently chosen path.
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