True Love and Relationships, Part 1
A series about non-dual love.
This article is the first in a series about love and relationships. It may challenge your ideas about love, or it may serve as a clarification of what you’ve already seen. It will serve as an introduction to this topic, and (hopefully) open a dialogue. The style or aim is a little less philosophical than some previous articles, in an attempt to render true and practical pointers to living and being happy, as well as exploring areas of deep mutual interest. Enjoy!
Love is the greatest emotion.
Love is the only emotion.
Love is eternal.
All emotion arises and dies in love.
Everything else is emotivity, states,
transitions, all feeling that is in
time and space, bound to an object.
Love is without object.
It is completely unconditioned.
The heart of all existence is love.
All that exists is in our heart.
Love is unexpressed.
The radiation of love comes from love and
brings you back to the unexpressed.
When you love you come back to yourself.
You must be ripe to love. Be ready.
Knowing yourself in your absence of self.
Love is only when there is no you.
Love is in your total absence.
In total absence is total presence.
Excerpt From: Jean Klein, “The Book of Listening.”
An Invitation to Love
Everybody wants real love. The impulse is universal, and one of the driving forces of life. Most of us seek it in relationships of some sort, be it lovers, family, partners, pets, or even plants and inanimate objects like dolls or cars. It’s as natural an impulse as breathing and digesting. We are made of love, you could say.
So indeed at bottom the impulse is a good one, yet most people end up disappointed at least once (in the human game, the comedy-drama of human love), and sometimes many times, or sometimes all of the time. Some give up on the whole game, or settle with a state of resignation or bitterness because “that’s just the way it is.”
What is going on? Why is there so much pain and suffering around and in the realm of “love” — why do we seek it where it isn’t — and experience so much seeming difficulty, trickiness, stickiness, entanglement, complexity, around what we are currently calling “love”? Well, there may be no end to the “why” questions, so we have to look in another direction, a direction that will yield answers. What does an answer look like? It looks like, or rather is, an experience: an experience of certainty, of knowing, of happiness, and well, love. So if we want an experience, something real, and we are done with chasing and with the false, then we will want to see what is true, what are facts instead of beliefs – what is always true and always present (otherwise it’s just more seeking and chasing and problem solving…) instead of the endless analysis of causes.
One can see this not only in psychotherapy and other similar helping professions, but on the spiritual path as well: the areas of relationships are nearly always where the last and stickiest “residues of ignorance” (meaning un-awareness of one’s true self, or ignoring the awareness of awareness) of stuck-ness remain in the mind-body, where we get “triggered” and reactions come up, seemingly distracting one from the path of fully living in our true nature and experiencing happiness (not only relationships but also in the areas of money, work, and addictions, the body & health & death). We then learn that this is part of the path, to see where we have blind spots – that is, unconscious areas to release the unloving-ness, to open out and be who we really are: beautiful divine beings at play is an extraordinary life… to see all situations in life as our learning board, the Life School, all perfectly and exactly as it needs to be to grow. Or, “AFGO”: Another fucking Growth Opportunity. 😉
On Looking Within
So is it them — the family member, the girlfriend, boyfriend, husband… or women in general, or men in general — that are the problem, or is it us? The bad news is, yes, it is us, ourselves, the inner self, the inner “demons” as it were. The “bad” news, is, you have more “work” to do, to see more, until the pattern stops repeating itself in new relationships. There can be a tremendous resistance to look inside, as well as a lack of understanding what that really means to “look inside”. This is why it can seem like work: there may be an initial effort to un-clasp the hand that has been held in a tight fist so long that it became unconscious.
Socialization helps us learn practical and social things we need, and find new ways to enjoy life, yet also destroys our minds. “Destroys our minds” is a dramatic way of pointing to the fact that we also learn all the “conditioning” that is negative, unconscious, and imprisons us, that veils happiness and love as it were. We are brought up to blame others, see problems, criticize, judge, feel superior or inferior, gossip, categorize, see evil, take on loads fo beliefs and opinions, stand up for this false, self, and think we know.
Why are we so afraid to look at ourselves? Is it because we are afraid of what we would find, or afraid of the feelings we feel are lurking in the background, or the awful facts about ourselves? Well, it’s all of those: fear of feelings and fear of what we would find. The simple fact is though, if you are, at some level, making an effort to avoid or not look at, not feel something — in other words to ignore something — it doesn’t make it go away, but rather perpetuates it, or makes it grow larger. We are giving it reality, granting it some kind of significance or importance. We are holding on tight to what we don’t want to lose, perhaps that makes us feel special, as if it, what “it” is, were really important, as if we were separate from the All. It’s an oblique way of trying to get love, oddly enough since it is irrational and causes pain.
What is actually “the cure” as it were, is opening to love, opening to what we are. But instead we do the opposite. This is the funny game we are playing. An analogy is the child who whines and scream about wanting some toy, let’s say, when really what they want is attention, to be loved. But given the attention they will need some more down the road a bit, until they really feel a genuine safety and global love. “More, more more” the child says. It’s never enough. Until it is. Can you start to see how it can never come from outside?
If It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It
The purpose of life, if it can be said to have a purpose, is to be happy. The problem is, we don’t really know what that means,”to be happy”. We mistake it for something temporary and objective. A bottle of wine, a night of love making, the big house, a trip Hawaii, the spiritual retreat or the high from meditation, and the revelations of a magic mushroom trip are all well and good (enjoy every minute of joy) but when it’s over and it’s back to business as usual, we are left seeking and yearning again. We tried to squeeze happiness from the person or place or experience, but can’t control its ending.
How do we achieve, or find unconditional love in relationships? How do we know it and live it? We may have experienced it many times — perhaps easier with our pets or children — and so know it in the heart. But for almost all humans, judgement and other “stuff” come in the way with partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, family, wives, husbands, even our children. The past, the hurts, the “challenges”. The wanting. The un-honesty, fights, dramas, betrayals… this is one thread to explore: how to see past all this, and “reset” love and forgiveness, and get back to the Now, the heart-felt goodness of wholeness?
Some will blame it on society, or that we are “bloody animals”, or despair or be cynical, or pose as worldy-wise, which is actually worldly-foolish. Or they will say that we should be focusing on saving the world. This is misdirected energy based in beliefs. You have not the right thing to give until you have it yourself: the happiness and love you are put on earth to know. Then you will do “great things” simply and easily (still takes energy and time, relatively speaking of course). The struggle and fear and meanness, groveling after crumbs like a beast with a brain is not the real you, the true essence of your nature. There is a good fight, and a bad fight, and a no-fight that area all part of the play, the beautiful scenarios unfolding. There is a flow that is harmonious with all creation. That is what you want to find.
There is No Such Thing As A Relationship
It seems like a paradox, but that’s the nature of things. To see there is no such thing as a relationship in reality, frees you and up, frees life up, to have a real relationship, and let go of mind games and emotions. You become more like two children having fun than serious heavy adults in a soap opera (unless that’s what you want, and many of us do, apparently!).
Imagine a little play, a skit: a couple is sitting in chairs in a room with a counselor. The woman earlier had uttered those dreaded 4 words to him “We need to talk”. And now here they are, hoping to see past an impasse. The therapist says
“So, what seems to be the problem?”
The couple look at each other and the woman, being the more extroverted one of the pair, says,
“Well, it’s about our relationship,” with a pained expression on her face. The therapist says,
“OK, well let’s bring them out so we can talk, shall we?”
The couple looks a little wide-eyed, bewildered, as soon out walks The Relationship (looking rather heavy), who sits in a third chair…
A funny skit, but you see what I’m driving at? The Relationship is a concept, an idea, and for each mind, at any given time, there may be some kind of image of the other person, who in reality is an unknown, and ideas about them and “The Relationship”, and this is all entirely and completely made-up mental activity that has nothing to do with reality, with fact. It is a fiction. Not only does it have only an oblique connection with relative reality (at best), but it has nothing to do with absolute reality, the being that we are, with Truth. But the mind feeds on this kind of thing, thrives on it. It’s the stuff of drama everywhere.
On a sociological note, talking about love in terms of “relationships”, as far as I know, is a relatively new phenomenon. It arose as part of the psychobabble of the 70’s (if I’m not mistaken), when it got abstracted. Before that, what was there? Teens “going steady” or talking about “my girl” or “my boyfriend” or getting engaged, or who knows… The point is it got abstracted and became a thing. Then you can pull out “the relationship” or “our relationship” and go over or use it in all kinds of ways: as a weapon (for continuing to feel separate), as a reason to be unhappy, as a way to hold onto an identity…
The Truth about relationships… So hard to come by, yet it’s staring us in the face, every day. We simply refuse to look at it, look at ourselves. And, so many unconscious and conscious forces are at work, desires and fears driving thinking, to keep us blind and subservient, that it’s a bit of a chore to untangle it, work ourselves free (mentally, emotionally speaking – and it is all a mental game, an internal thing). Yet this bondage if you will (no I’m not into that kind of thing…) is ultimately voluntary: we forget that at some point we signed up for the gig, leaped into it, and forgot where we hid the key. The good news is, the key to freedom still in our pocket, right where it always was.
We all seek happiness and peace, even if it’s via a roundabout way through a relationship that we believe will bring us security or pleasure or comfort or whatever the goal appears to be (conscious or unconscious), even if in our mind we think we are pursuing or wanting what we are calling “love” in a relationship. The fantasy we’ve been brought up with, of the man or woman of our dreams, regardless of the form, is somehow supposed to make us happy.
One of the central truths I want to convey is that is you must focus on happiness first and foremost — real happiness and peace (and we will go into what that is) oneself — and not love-as-relationship, or you will be setting yourself up for suffering sooner or later: disappointment, pain, hurt, bitterness, etc. Simply put, if you make yourself dependent on a relationship (or any thing), you are headed for pain. In fact, if you seek happiness in any “object”, meaning an object of experience, such as a substance, a relationship, a place, a material object (which is really an idea in your mind), an activity… you are on a roller coaster headed for the exit that says “Ouchland”.
The fundamental problem of love is that objective love is mistaken for true love. Why? Because we believe ourselves to be an object, a body, a person, a man or a woman, when we could be having fun playing those parts in the cosmic dance. We take it seriously. We identify as that character, that story. Personal desire and fear operate at some level, with the “noise” generated clouding the natural clarity of thinking, keeping us hostage to the programming, blind to reality, to facts.
We do not realize our true nature. If we examined our experience closely, saw it with clarity, disabused of beliefs and presumptions to know, and truly admitted that we don’t know what we are, in that knowing of unknowing, that openness, love would not be a problem: at worse it would be an opportunity for dissolving more of what we are not, when a discomfort arises in the body (for example).
Physical love is a beautiful part of the dance of life. The mistake is projecting love where it is not. What is objective love? It is love for end-gaining: mistakenly pursuing an outcome such as an orgasm via another body, or physical pleasure as a substitute for happiness, or as a way to cover over feelings (emptiness) or pretend to be happy, or uncover happiness briefly. Then we mistake the happiness as coming from an object (addiction).
When there is the release of the tension from desire, when a desire is fulfilled, or in a moment of fulfillment of a desire, there can be a loss of the sense of separation from the One Being you Are. The filters fall away and there is temporary peace and happiness. The mind then associates this with the object: the person (the lover), the activity (shopping), taking the substance (the drug)… This repetitive training reinforces the idea that the happiness can be found in the person or activity or substance or location. This is how addictions get a foothold and maintain themselves.
Maybe the relationship was meant to last, maybe not. There is no knowing ahead of time what will happen – that’s part of the fun.
Remember how you were as a child? It wasn’t so complicated. Playing and being happy were natural and easy. So was loving. To become childlike, or uncover that, but not childish – that is the goal, the unveiling. The simplicity. It’s there, “hidden in a form” as the sage Sydney Banks used to say…
The Yoga of Relationships;
Looking For Love In All the Wrong Places;
Falling In Love;
Sex is Not Love But Can Be Loving;
Slave and Master, Controlled and Controller;
Expectations and the Hidden Rulebook;
The One, the Perfect Life Partner: Myth and Illusion?
Not sure if I god the gist of this, but I kept waiting for the reference to Bach, hoping the “Preludes and Fugues” wasn’t just metaphorical.
Evidently, the “Goldberg Variations” (which was named after a real guy named Goldberg) ends, in the 30th variation, with a relationship joke. The two main themes of the variation are taken from German folk songs. The words to one of the songs are “It’s been so long since I’ve been with you” and the words to the other are “Cabbage and turnips [something to do with gas?] have driven me away.”. An interview with two of Bach’s sons apparently confirmed it was, indeed, a joke.
But back to relationships – I’ve been intrigued for many years by women’s friend relationships. At least in the US, SO much more passionate than male-to-male. I was surprised when we visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to see men walking in pairs, holding hands, carrying on passionate, intimate converasations, walking along the Bay of Bengal. So maybe it is cultural, not genetic.
Also I recently discovered that male friendships in the 18th and 19th centuries actually had as many expressions of what we now think of as romantic love as those of women. And as far as “working’ on relationships getting started in the 1970s, I’ve seen references recently to both Latin and Greek philosophers describing the need to work on a friendship for many years!
Finally, Jan and I have both been studying with Andrew Hewson (who I think you’re familiar with) for the past year. One of the practices we do is contemplative writing (I’m just about to get started for the evening session, in fact:>). One of the aims is to take 110% responsibility for all one’s reactions (without identifying with the reaction as “me” or “mine” – a particularly crucial component in relationships!)
We’ve found it’s been very powerful in terms of trust and intimacy. Our worst arguments tend to be about things we’re working on (we’ve written a book together, created websites, and spent the last 4 years creating an online course on effortless, non-dual mindfulness and the brain, so we generally work at least 40-50 hours a week together, in addition to doing most other things together).
We tend to get very controlling and manipulative (generlaly, me more than her) about writing. For video and music, we have our own spheres (she does the video, I do music) but we’re both about equal in terms of writing, so there’s no automatic hierarchy, which tends to lead to more arguments about who is right).
We had an amazing exchange the other day, where we paused, reflected and then went over what had just transpired. We said to each other, “Ok, please tell me what you saw as the most egregious problem with me, and I’ll try as hard as I can to see if I can see it as you do.”
Owning one’s stuff, in other words, rather than blame; listening for understanding rather than agreement or disagreement. Not that we always do it, but with a shared aspiration, some amazing exchanges and intimate understandings can take place.
Hi Don – Alas, “Preludes and Fugues” was merely metaphorical. I may get rid of it (since few might appreciate it), and replace it with Introduction and Chapters or something boring like that.
I certainly have observed that about women’s friendships. I saw it very up-close and evident at Francis Lucille’s satsang, which I was going to every weekend (for about 4 years) when they were in-person and not online. Women greeted each other with much expression of emotion and hugging and touching – something the men, even if felt, kept in check. I was frankly envious and wanted to be one of these women haha! I wager that it is cultural, and a particular quirk of the male code of conduct in this emotionally-repressed society (be the warrior and all that). I also wager the women are complicit in it, and don’t *really* want a “sensitive” male (that didn’t work out – wasn’t that the 70’s again?).
Regarding “And as far as ‘working’ on relationships getting started in the 1970s, I’ve seen references recently to both Latin and Greek philosophers describing the need to work on a friendship for many years!”:
The reference was about the concept “relationship” and the use of that word functionally, and the fact that there *is* no such a thing as a relationship. It’s a reification of a virtual dance of one.
Yes I am familiar with Andrew. We used to talk on Skype when he was just getting started making videos and I’d give him feedback. He reminded me of a young Steve Jobs, and the white boards and illustrations he used were unique. He was very sincere, and he’d set me straight on my overly-scientific way of seeing things, being relatively new to non-duality at the time. I also did a video interview with him (he has a fascinating story of how he came to his “state” of non-duality via severe drug addiction, a big car crash, being in a hospital jail, and total surrender and miraculous recovery, etc.). After a while I lost interest, and we just couldn’t see eye to eye regarding his metaphysics (he lacks clarity about the crucial mind/consciousness distinction) and unfortunately has adopted the pseudo-science terminology of the hinky and litigious David Hawkins (who of course rates himself very highly in his silly scale of consciousness). Unfortunately Andrew, given where he was living at the time of his awakening, didn’t have access to any spiritual resources, and ran across Hawkins and glommed onto him.
As regards to responsibility for one’s reactions (and total life in fact, but not as a person), that is indeed crucial. I just posted a couple things to Facebook that I should put on this website:
Was contemplating the painful divisiveness even between friends sometimes (such as when politics comes up), over what amounts to beliefs, and wanting to change, save, fix the other, or improve the world, fight injustice, make it better, see wrong in another… beneath the sorrow and pain of humankind there must be common ground, there *is* common ground.
Then happened to listen to this meditation of Francis Lucille, and transcribed the ending, which is poetic:
“When all things become indifferent to you
your indifference becomes sacred
The present reveals presence
The present was made of this presence
and when the present was the past
it was also was made of this presence
and when this present will be in the future
it will also be made of this presence
And whatever is present is the present of our neighbor, of our friend
is also made of this presence.”
And I also posted this:
True Listening Is
Where we can see the other’s point of view, see the grain of truth in it, stand in their shoes as it were, so there’s an understanding – it’s not 100% agreeing but it’s seeing the innocence without any judgement, of how they think, feel, see things. This can happen when you are *open*. The mind is not jumping off onto it’s reaction tracks when you hear certain words or ideas or even an intensity of feeling. It’s is just open, listening, hearing, seeing: a “benevolent indifference” in other words.
How do we foster this is “the other”, so there can be a connection, a true meeting – even when their views seem the polar opposite – we had called it “crazy” or bizarre” before? By our own openness, relaxed listening, understanding, honesty. Then healing can take place.
If they cannot now be open, that is not under our control. We do the best we can in the moment, according to our level of consciousness.
This can be a solution to not only divisiveness in relationships (be it from political, religious, or *any* kind of belief system), but to healing and lessening loneliness. Finding our common ground.
A return to fact of human beingness – we call it “love” but it has no name – rather than entangled in thoughts. A welcoming to truth.