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Monetary disputes: How to keep the moolah and the family peace

How can a spiritual perspective give us the wisdom to avoid wealth-related disputes and settle such issues with harmony and good will, asks Suma Varughese

Suma Varughese is the Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive magazine

All eyes have been on the momentous battle between the Ambani brothers for their share of the Reliance pie. Thanks apparently, to a sagacious mother and a spiritual guru, the brothers have finally managed to make an amicable settlement, or so we hear.

Disputes over family property are one of the most common sources of contention and enmity. Thousands of family businesses have sundered and perished at the altar of self-interest. Millions of families have splintered and separated over inheritance disputes and other property matters. Offspring have thrown out their own parents in their haste to move into the family home. Patricide and parricide have often been the tragic outcome of the bitter wrangling. 

How can a spiritual perspective give us the wisdom to avoid disputes and settle such issues with harmony and good will?

A Brahma Kumari sanyasin once said something I found thought-provoking. When news of a death reaches us and we go to pay our last respects, we often become aware that one goes empty-handed, carrying nothing away. Such awareness can give us pause and make us assess our own priorities. However, on our way back from the funeral, many of us inevitably wonder what the departed has left behind and who will inherit it. The material world once again weaves its coils around us.

But the thought is worth holding on to. What do we carry away when we die? Of late, thanks to the advances of medical science, there have been many reported instances of near-death experiences. People actually experience the process of dying and report going through a tunnel and meeting all the souls of departed friends and family, before returning back. Such people affirm that the only things that last when we leave the material plane, is the work we have done on ourselves – our qualities and character – and our relationships. Only love, they say, lasts forever.

Worth thinking about, right? Should we then forego these precious ties that we have cultivated over lifetimes simply for the sake of some material stuff that we must in any case leave behind when we go?

Awareness that we are more than our material bodies and that our real essence is immortal and endures through infinite lifetimes will give us the detachment required to go beyond the desires and ego compulsions that propel us into these disputes.
Awareness too of the importance of relationships will help us to prioritise them and ensure that at no time do we have to sacrifice them for the sake of money and property. This does not mean that we necessarily have to forego property altogether and live on sackcloth and ashes. It only means that we will use wiser and more balanced methods to arrive at settlements. For instance, instead of being led only by our own needs and desires, we will be equally sensitive to that of others and arrive at mutually satisfying deals rather than walk away with the booty. There may even be times when the situation demands that we sacrifice our due for someone who is in greater need. We should be capable of such measures as well. A distant relative of mine has written over her share of the family property to her brother who holds no job. Such care and concern is a natural offshoot of prioritizing relationships over money. 

We will also snuff contentions and wrangles in the bud. As parents we must ensure that we make wills that are rational and just and free of ambiguity to ensure that offspring do not quarrel. As siblings and offspring, we will guard against friends or spouses poisoning our minds against the primary family and encouraging us to split from them.

If despite all this we are embroiled in disputes, it is certainly worth considering if property is worth sacrificing your peace of mind and precious relationships for. Whenever possible, let it go. Money, like everything in life, comes and goes. Let us not get caught in its grip.

If one must insist upon one’s share, then keeping the maintenance of family relations as a priority will give you the balance and maturity to work out the settlement in amity and keeping everyone’s interests at heart. In motivation speaker, Stephen Covey’s words, we will work towards the win-win solution.

A spiritual perspective can help you to handle life’s problems with care and wisdom. And that is an edge you can’t afford to do without.

God save the Malayalee

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