Can I disown my brother?

My brother physically hit me and verbally abused me as a child. Now, as an adult, I refuse to associate with him. He recently hit and bruised my sister and even more recently has physically hit my nephew. We are all adults. I feel it is my right to divorce this person from my life. My nephew agrees. My mom feels that “family is family—no matter what.” Your thoughts?

Your brother doesn’t need the outcast status that such a divorce would create; he needs counseling. Now. And so does the rest of your family. Now. The right therapist will help you clean out the inner triggers that respond in-kind when your brother begins to escalate. Gradually, you will build the inner strength necessary to greet violence with peace. This process of learning how to create peace on Earth may take months or years and may require a timeout from your relationship with your brother. But if you simply divorce your brother without doing this inner work, violence may continue to overpower you (violent experiences with strangers or other loved ones, violent thoughts within your head, being emotionally devastated by public violence, etc.).

The belief that “family is family—no matter what,” doesn’t mean put up and shut up. The deeper meaning is that your brother will always be yours. Love the ones you’re with.

I am a 27-year-old woman, single, childless and originally from New Jersey. I have lived in California for 11 years. I have close friends here that I consider family, but I am always homesick for my family back east. They constantly tell me that they need me, but because of the distance I don’t get wrapped up in this. I feel that God led me to California for reasons still unknown to me, but I have been meditating about returning east. During the holidays I realized that I need my family even though I don’t like New Jersey culture. Should I move? Or should I stay to learn why God called me here? Maybe I still have a lesson to learn. How do I make sure my decision is the right one spiritually?

Try submitting to one of the following spiritual paths: 1. Do what you most fear. Or 2. Enter silence. Wait until your thoughts, will, emotions and values are fused as one. Then act. All movements will be effortless. Of course, there is no guarantee that either path will feel right. The ability to acknowledge a decision as the right choice requires an appreciation of the perfection of life as it is and a generous vision while looking at your past.

Still, I think that you are facing a larger question: when is my call complete? Consider this: you have completed the task of following the call. By doing so you have learned what your family means to you. What other lesson awaits you? Perhaps none. So does the realization that your family is important to you mean that you should head for Jersey? Not necessarily. It does mean that you ought to love your family with extraordinary passion and that you ought to allow yourself to receive their love with the same vibrant intensity. You have, after all, learned the value of family both literally (blood kin) and symbolically (friends as family). Now live as if both are equal and you’ll contribute to a reality that spiritual teachers have been trying to imprint on our species for centuries.

Meditation of the Week

“It is easy to believe that God can do anything. It’s hard to believe that God will do that through us,” says inspirational speaker and author Bill Huelsch. Are you blinded to the way that your prayers have already been answered?