Using Our Relationships as a Template for Spiritual Practice
Excerpts from Self-Belonging to be published around Valentine’s day 2018 (stay tuned to receive your advance copy) and Happily Ever After…Right Now https://www.amazon.com/Happily-Ever-After-Right-Now/dp/061539969X
The late Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, defines true love as this: “The desire to contribute to another’s spiritual growth.” Peck’s definition says nothing about finding someone to complete you or make you happy (or vice versa). So whether or not the relationship is sustainable, if you decide to use it as a spiritual practice, you can choose to grow in the presence of another (while contributing to his/her growth) without a need or desire to change him/her so that you can be happy and comfortable. Instead, you work on being present and available for whatever is going on (because that’s the only way the Divine can get through to you). You avoid getting too blissed out, dependent, or thrown off by this other, for you know your true joy comes from cultivating your relationship with the Divine. You avoid giving in to your strong preferences and mental constructs about how you think things ought to be, and settle into accepting what is—not in a passive way, rather as an active participant—awake and alert. You step back from your temptation to react when you get triggered, and instead put some space between you and whatever has gotten you all riled up.
Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says that “until you access the consciousness frequency of Presence (God, the One Unified Field), all relationships are deeply flawed, and you can oscillate between the polarities of love and hate—never really getting to true love.” The power of Presence dissolves the temptation to judge or project. When you invoke the Divine to support you in your moment of resistance, instead of pushing against the darkness (in yourself or the other), you bring light (love) to the situation—regardless of what is happening. And so at the risk of sounding cheesy—you kind of have to become a warrior for light (love) in order to tackle the dark forces of your lower nature. Of course, taking that warrior path means you’ve gotta fortify yourself with perseverance, since those dark forces are deeply embedded in you and in all of us. And as can happen with any warrior who sets out on a challenging mission, you are likely to have some defeats. Those can make you stronger if you let them (which I know by heart). Over time, with love, trust, and determination, you will eventually attain victory—living primarily in peace, harmony, and freedom. And from that place, you will look back on who it was that motivated you to go for that love-light with enormous gratitude—regardless of however s/he might have shown up. S/he was a mirror, who may have helped to expose that dark nature of yours (we all have one), so you could flip the switch in your heart and illuminate the real truth of who you are.
Giving Up Control (pp. 98-99 Happily Ever After…Right Now)
“As we become more and more willing to be completely transparent with who we are in all our relationships, the more freedom we have for unlimited growth…In standing tall to face the stark terror that our conditioned fears of abandonment produce (the dark forces trying to get a grip), we create an opening to remember that the love that lives within is the only certain rescue from the darkness—the Essential security in our lives. I am safe. I am home. I am here, now. I am enough.”
You are invited to be seated at an imaginary round table. There will be five others joining you.
- The first person is someone you are attracted to, s/he fascinates you. You feel compelled to get to know her/him. Yet there’s something about her/him that makes you feel slightly unsafe, or even diminished. S/He sits beside you on your right. You feel some excitement, while at the same time a bit uncomfortable.
- The second person to join you is someone who repels you… Everything about him/her makes your skin crawl. You want him/her to leave or go away. S/He sits to your left.
- Number three is someone that you really enjoy. You love to be around this person, but you are not compelled to constantly seek out her/his companionship. You feel a sense of peace in the relationship. You complement one another, and yet you don’t feel a need to be with this person to feel happy or okay. S/He sits beside person #1.
- Number four is invisible. You don’t really see this individual, recognize her/him, or even know who s/he is, and frankly, it doesn’t really interest you to find out. S/He is seated beside person #2.
- The last person to join you is of some interest, but you have little in common. S/He has a career in computer science and lives in NYC. You are an artist, living in Taos, New Mexico. S/He sits beside person #4.
All of these people have joined you at your table. Are they mirroring some aspect of who you are? Here are some questions you may want to ask them (or yourself). Who are you? What do you represent? If you’ve come into my life, what are you here to teach me?
Compassion Meditation: Sit for 2-3 minutes and shower yourself and your loved ones with compassion. Next, hold compassion in your heart (2-3 minutes) for people you are neutral around (such as person # 5) or who are “invisible to you” (like person #4). Finally, cultivate compassion for people who repel you or whom you vigorously resist for 2 or 3 minutes.
Or, see what kind of spiritual practice your heart wants to create in the presence of your relationships. “You are the only one who knows.”—Billy Joel
Believing in you.