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Neutralizing Likes and Dislikes
Shanti: What kind of vasanas do you think I have?
Ram: The same ones we all have. The vasanas outpicture as your likes and dislikes. One’s likes and dislikes generally disturb one’s mind. If you don’t like noise and your neighbor turns on the stereo full-volume, you will be disturbed. The neighbor is not disturbed, because he or she likes loud music. I’ve been trying to show you that the cause of your agitation about men, for example, is due to your attachment to your likes and dislikes and the futile attempt to get outer reality to satisfy them.
For example, you were upset with Tom’s downside because you had a vasana, a preference, that he be some other way. If you didn’t have that preference, it wouldn’t have mattered to you that he was like he was. In fact if you had a preference for high-risk investments, alcohol and flashy openings, you might have concluded that he was the guy for you.
I think maybe you’ve misunderstood what I’ve been saying. Perhaps you’ve taken it as an attack on your ego. This discussion about vasanas and the spiritual attitude toward life came about because of complaints in your emails about life in general, your work, Tom, etc. and what I perceived as considerable existential frustration. Since I had that kind of a mind at one time and the spiritual life helped me to purify my vasanas and give me a calm mind, I thought I would try to communicate with you what scripture and the wise people have come up with on the subject. Perhaps you think that I’m trying to convince you that you don’t need a man or to judge and attack your ego. I’m not.
I think it’s probably time for me to pack it in on this idea because it is one of those things that one has to be ready to see. When you are ready it is easy to grasp and it will transform your life.
Shanti: How do people narrow down who they are with if there aren’t some qualities one wishes someone had?
Ram: Well, the first thing has to be the core values. If they are all there, then you can start selecting on more personal criteria and hope that the person will fit into your likes and not exacerbate your dislikes.
But it seems to me the real issue is love. I think what you’re saying is that you can’t love someone unless they jibe with your likes and don’t jibe with your dislikes. That’s okay, but to me love is a much bigger thing than that. That sounds almost like business: “If you have what I want I’ll love you.” My approach is different. It is not really important what the person is on the personality level as long as they are decent, honest and open-minded. If these basic qualifications are there, I start loving. And invariably the love becomes what the relationship is about – giving and receiving it – not particular ego needs. In fact the personal stuff gets subsumed in love. The love neutralizes it. The positive stuff grows and the negative stuff withers. It’s quite simple. And the love object grows. And so do you.
Another problem with the likes and dislikes is that they really limit the field. If you have worked on yourself and removed many of them or gained some distance on them, it is a lot easier to love and be loved. But if you are very attached to them, let’s say “fussy” – want it just the way you want it and no other way – finding the “right” guy is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Shanti:The problem is that I am a fuzzy, not clear, person.
Ram: Yes, this is why I’m trying to help you get clarity. Honestly, Shanti, this idea I’ve been trumpeting is not rocket science. It is just common sense, Spirituality 101. But you do not seem to want to see it.
Shanti: Other women might not even try to get involved with someone if some basic, important things weren’t there.
Ram: That’s common sense, Shanti. The fact that the basics aren’t there with Tom and that you still are holding on to the idea of making a relationship with him indicates to me that you want a relationship badly.
Shanti: How do you surrender to the relationship?
Ram: You see that the relationship, not your ego needs, is the purpose of the relationship. By “relationship” I mean love. So you don’t make an issue when you don’t get what you want. You don’t resent having to let go of your issue. You see that it builds a good relationship to sacrifice the stuff that is getting in the way of communicating. You do not believe that you are “right.”I think your idea is that if your ego needs are met, then you will consider a relationship. This is what you see in the matrimonials and the personals. It’s fine for what it is because you don’t want to take up with somebody who is going to constantly agitate you, but if that is all there is, then how does the love come in? A relationship with someone who “fits” with your needs does not guarantee love.
Shanti: I find this very helpful and I also hope that you see that I find spiritual validity in a relationship too.
Ram: I agree that a relationship can be spiritually valuable, but only if it based on Spirit. I don’t believe, however, that a relationship based on needs guarantees spiritual growth. Most everyone in the society is in a relationship, and how spiritual is the society? There is nothing wrong with being lonely and wanting a person to be with, but imagining that a relationship will function as a spiritual path when either or both persons are not committed to a spiritual way of life is futile. Furthermore, if you want to grow in a relationship you need to find somebody who is more evolved than you. If you get somebody below your level they will do all the growing. And if you get somebody at your level, nobody will grow unless you both have in place a serious sadhana. I just met a lovely spiritual couple a few days ago; they really had unconditional love for each other, but both had been diligently doing sadhana for many years before they met and the relationship was about supporting each other’s sadhana, not about fulfilling ego needs. They were so happy with each other that they said they didn’t have sex anymore, as it was a kind of lower energy. You find many people who have been in relationship for years and years who still quarrel about the same things. Nothing gets worked out. Half of all marriages end in divorce – irreconcilable differences. And probably most of those people would at one time have sworn that their significant other was their “soul mate.”
Shanti: Thanks for all of your help, dear Ramji. I know that I’m a tough one and hopefully will see the light more soon!
Ram: You are a tough one, Shantiji, but you’re worth the effort. I love the heck out of you.