Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Relationships ...

As I gallivant from book to book, letting myself recognize (or remember) the truth that I know, where it counts, I am often struck by particular phrases and passages ... today was no exception. I highly recommend Eckhart Tolle's little (yet profound) book, "Stillness Speaks" ... one of those books that nearly-literally "jumped off the shelf" in my local Goodwill thrift store, and sat around until such a time as this ... there are no mistakes; all things occur as they "should" (ooooh, the dreaded sh-word!).

How quick we are to form an opinion of a person, to come to a conclusion about them. It is satisfying to the egoic mind to label another human being, to give them a conceptual identity, to pronounce righteous judgment upon them.

Oh yes! I catch myself doing this nearly incessantly! I look at a person, and judge them by their appearance, or by their action. I tell myself a story about them, and then I believe that story -- my story becomes what I believe to be the "truth". But my experience of them is only my story ... whether that experience is a flash-moment, or a lifetime.

Every human being has been conditioned to think and behave in certain ways - conditioned genetically as well as by their childhood experiences and their cultural environment.

That is not who they are, but that is who they appear to be. When you pronounce judgment upon someone, you confuse these conditioned mind patterns with who they are. To do that is itself a deeply conditioned and unconscious pattern. You give them a conceptual identity, and that false identity becomes a prison not only for the other person, but also for yourself.

Miguel Ruiz ("The Four Agreements" - another high-recommend!) calls that our "domestication." The way in which we are conditioned, via parents, culture, school, and our own egoic minds, to label, divide, compare and compete -- as IF we had a lack, as IF we were not enough, as IF we were separate...!

To let go of judgment does not mean that you don't see what they do. It means that you recognize their behavior as a form of conditioning, and you see it and accept it as that. You don't construct an identity out of it for that person.

That liberates you as well as the other person from identification with conditioning, with form, with mind. The ego then no longer runs your relationships.

For me, it means seeing myself, and ALL other humans, as doing the very best that they can, at that time, given all that they have experienced, all that they see, all that they currently believe. Seeing them as being IN process ... seeing them as being, like me, in need of understanding, acceptance, and kindness. Doing for another what I would want them to do for me ... giving the very grace that I want for myself. Perhaps it's only in giving that grace, that I can receive it ... as we are all One...?

As long as the ego runs your life, most of your thoughts, emotions, and actions arise from desire and fear. In relationships you then either want or fear something from the other person.

What you want from them may be pleasure, or material gain, recognition, praise or attention, or a strengthening of your sense of self through comparison and through establishing that you are, have or know more than they. What you fear is that the opposite may be the case, and that they may diminish your sense of self in some way.

How wonderful to go beyond wanting an fearing in your relationships. Love does not want or fear anything.

I hear this, and I "get" this ... big-time. But, I confess that I don't yet always live this. Which is why I'm blogging it ... as part of the process of making it real to me.

If their past were your past, their pain your pain, their level of consciousness your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as they do. With this realization comes forgiveness, compassion, and peace.

The ego doesn't like to hear this, because if it cannot be reactive and righteous anymore, it will lose strength.

Reminds me of a wise prayer ... "Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

When you receive whomever comes into the space of Now as a noble guest, when you allow each person to be as they are, they begin to change.

We confuse knowing about with a deeper knowing that is non-conceptual. Knowing about and knowing are totally different modalities. One is conceived in form, and the other with the formless. One operates through thought, the other through stillness.

Knowing about is helpful for practical purposes. On that level, we cannot do without it. When it is the predominant modality in relationships, however, it becomes very limiting, even destructive. Thoughts and concepts create an artificial barrier, a separation between human beings. Without the conceptual barriers, love is naturally present in all human interactions.

It is essential to bring some stillness, particularly into your close relationships. Meditate or spend silent time in nature together. Stillness cannot, and need not, be created. Become comfortable with being in stillness together. Just be receptive to the stillness that is already there, but is usually obscured by mental noise.

If spacious stillness is missing, the relationship will be dominated by the mind and can easily be taken over by problems and conflict. If stillness is there, it can contain anything.

True listening is another way of bringing stillness into the relationship. Usually, the greater part of a person's attention is taken up by their thinking. At best, they may be evaluating your words or preparing the next thing to say... or not even listening at all, lost in their own thoughts.

True listening goes far beyond auditory perception. It is the arising of alert attention, a space of presence in which the words are being received. The words now become secondary. They may be meaningful or they may not make sense. Far more important than what you are listening to is the act of listening itself, the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. That space is a unifying field of awareness in which you meet the other person without the separative barriers created by conceptual thinking. And now the other person is no longer "other." In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.

What if we could do this, give this, to each other..? How different would our relationships be? How different would the world be?

At the root of all relational conflict and drama lie the basic egoic patterns: the need to be right and, of course, for someone else to be wrong; that is to say, identification with mental positions. There is also the ego's need to be periodically in conflict with something or someone in order to strengthen its sense of separation between "me" and the "other," without which it cannot survive.

In addition, there is the accumulated emotional pain from the past that you and each human being carries within, both from your personal past as well as the collective pain of humanity that goes back a long, long time. This "pain-body" is an energy field within you that sporadically takes you over because it needs to experience more emotional pain for it to feed on and replenish itself. It will try to control your thinking and make it deeply negative. It will also provoke negative emotional reactions in people close to you, especially your partner, in order to feed on the ensuing drama and emotional pain.

Ohhhhhh, to be able to remember this, when in the thick of either personal negative thinking, or the relational dramas that occur in life ...!

How can you free yourself from this deep-seated unconscious identification with pain that creates so much misery in life?

Become aware of it. Realize that is not who you are, and recognize it for what it is: past pain. Witness it as it happens in your partner or in yourself. When your unconscious identification with it is broken, when you are able to observe it within yourself, you don't feed it anymore, and it will gradually lose its energy charge.

There it is again: Awareness. Acceptance. Letting it be. Realizing that it is not the Real Me.

Human interaction can be hell. Or it can be a great spiritual practice.

When you look upon another human being and feel great love toward them, or when you contemplate beauty in nature and something within you responds deeply to it, close your eyes for a moment and feel the essence of that love or that beauty within you, inseparable from who you are, your true nature.

My absolutely favorite moments in life, are when that profound love, that deep beauty, overwhelm me ... getting lost in that, getting caught up in that, is my truest experiential joy...!

THAT is who I Am.

Ultimately, of course, there is no other, and we are always meeting ourselves ... and my hunch is that when we get that, really get that, and take full responsibility for our own life, for our own reactions, our own responses, we begin to truly live ...!

Shalom, Dena


MysticBrit said...

It's a mighty little book, Dena, and you're seeing some mighty big truths in it. May it take root in you, and all who read this. There's simple, powerful, transformative power here. World-changing power.

See you about, my friend:)

cwtpmom said...

Everything must relate back to and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, if the Atonement is to remain central to our lives.

The Atonement is the center force of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Imho, the love experience you describe at the end of your blog, has the power to complete engulf you, but is fleeting.

It feels like you are on a mission to re-invent love, separate from the atonement of Jesus Christ. All love emanates from God, no matter through what lens you view it.
love is
love is

Anonymous said...

Thank you Dena. I am getting this book today. I also read the book you recommended "The Fall" and loved it. I appreciate you and your words of insight. In the "One Love". Sylvia