Where Do Relationships & Spirituality Meet?

Making Love On The Cushion.
“Treya closed her eyes, and for all purposes, she never opened them again. My heart broke. Da Free John’s phrase kept running through my mind: ‘Practice the wound of love.’ Real love hurts; real love makes you totally vulnerable and open; real love will take you far beyond yourself; and therefore real love will devastate you. I kept thinking if love does not shatter you, you do not know love. We had both been practicing the wound of love, and I was shattered. Looking back on it, it seems to me that in that simple and direct moment we both died.” ~Ken Wilber

What a powerful statement!

Love hurts, because it challenges our sense of self. Truth is, intimate relationships are essentially the same as any other situation...But at the same time, they're completely different. Relationships kick open the doors to samsara and nirvana. With the right person we find our feet in two ponds, both heaven and hell.

On the one hand, intimate relationships are an exciting affair full of possibilities. We meet someone, whom for an incalculable number of reasons, the spontaneous expression of joy and intelligence just comes natural. However, there’s a yin and yang principle. With all the excitement comes a precise recognition of the painful obstacles that prevent this organic expression of love.

In any given circumstance, romantic or otherwise, we have the option of relating to the spacious quality of the situation, or trying to stake off our territory. Relating to the spaciousness begets the spontaneous expression of creativity mentioned earlier. This mingling of hearts is based on the acknowledgement that the situation is alive— we are alive, our partner is alive, and the space we are moving through is alive. It is life penetrating itself. This is true love, but to relate to the situation in this way requires us facing the obstacles that hinder direct and simple honesty. Relationships push us into our own darkness. So, relationships cultivate courage and selflessness — a willingness to face the things that scare you for the sake of someone else.

To say that the whole situation is alive, is to say that it is changing without beginning or end. This challenges our sense of self, because it does not provide solid ground for us to stand on. It does not afford us the opportunity to experience ourselves as a solid-separate individual. We are left vulnerable. Though it doesn't feel this way at the time, vulnerability is the action of sanity seeking to express itself in our lives.

The belief that we are a static entity is based on confusion. By confusion, I mean a state of ignore-ance — ignoring the space that provides no allowances for such a belief. Since we are all infected with confusion to some degree, it is inevitable that during the course of a serious relationship, at some point, the challenge will be issued.

Often times this challenge is experienced as fear, anger, jealousy, etc. This is because, we are perceiving the depth of the situation as a threat to our territory. Perhaps our partner had lunch with an ex, or is considering an out of town job; maybe their lifestyle challenges our way of life. We see these things as un-expected events that challenge our relationship with the environment, and therefore our sense of self. So, it should be clear that we use our expectations to define our territory. But the problem is much deeper. The perceived threat is based upon the false assumption that we own the situation, which is a product of confusion— ignoring the living or spacious quality of our partner enables us to conceptualize and manipulate them. It is a state of ignore-ance that sits at the core of the problem.

When the gauntlet has been thrown down we are presented with a choice: Do we want to relate with the living qualities of our environment, and therefore the internal obstacles that prevent an uncensored experience of reality? In other words, are we willing to relate to our own shit? Are we willing to listen, on a very basic level, to the pain we are experiencing, and the causes that give rise to it? Or do we want to relate to our reference points— to our neurotic commentary? Are we going to regard our confusion as the word of God, and continue to tell ourselves the same old story as a way of anesthetizing the pain? Are we going to buy into the mistaken belief that we are property owners?

By relating to our reference points I mean, trying to stake off our partner as though they were some static idea that belonged to us. Instead of seeing them as a living organism, we try to embalm them— keep them in a cage constructed out of our fears and expectations. We utilize various forms of emotional terrorism to keep them in these cages, but since staying in a cage means denying their very being this is a destructive behavior. It will never work.

Intimate relationships have the potential to be self-styled prisons or meditation in action. We do not have to control the situation. We do not have to set up all these boundaries that define the relationship. If the relationship is truly based on love, it is intelligent. We need to trust this intelligence. Direct observation is the only prerequisite for trust. All of the confusion, and the behaviors that express our confusion are connected with basic sanity. We do not need to repress or hide our confusion, as that would be dishonest. Rather, we need to observe our confusion. We need to face the obstacles that prevent complete vulnerability, and the expression of pure love or intelligence. Obstacles are life’s way of forcing us to relate with that which we have chosen to ignore. In observing our confusion, we see it for what it is. When confusion is seen for what it is, it is immediately transformed into wisdom. Observation and transformation are opposite sides of the same coin. Transformation is the pressing out of observation. It is a state of ignore-ance that sustains our fears, and the observation of ignorance is enlightenment.

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