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The Vedanta of Relationships
Ram: Dear Alicia, well, the resolution to quit worrying about relationships is probably a good one. I hope you’re able to stick with your spiritual program. It may be difficult at first, but once you get over longing for a guy, the energy can flow in the right direction. I always thought that your near obsession with relationship masked the real need: a spiritual longing, one that can only be satisfied by understanding that you are complete as God made you and that nothing external is required to make you happy.
I thought it interesting that you felt and you and John wouldn’t be friends because I believe that one should not even consider an emotional involvement with someone who isn’t a friend. Only friends can deal dispassionately with relationship issues. Friendship is a lot closer to real love than sexual/emotional love. Friends will still love you if you fail to satisfy their emotional needs. Friends will not burden each other with unreasonable emotional demands, like “being there” for you all the time. Sex and emotion are a natural part of life, but they need to be contexualized by love, not expected to stand on their own.
Often the issue is deeper than just sexual/emotional needs. Very often they are just a gross representation of the need to feel validated by someone else. I think perhaps women have this need pounded into them more than men. By this I mean the view that one isn’t really a woman unless one has a man. And beneath this idea is the even more difficult issue of identification with one’s gender. I know I’m a bit ahead of the curve on this one, but I don’t think of myself as a man. Believe me, I didn’t always see it that way.
But as I worked out my sexual/emotional stuff I realized that it really had nothing to do with who I really am. The way I see it now, and I think this is the healthiest view, is I see a man’s body stuck to my immortal self – but it is more a funny appendage that has nothing to do with me, like an appendix or a set of useless tonsils than anything real or important. Sure, the sexual/emotional feeling are there, my pathetic 2.2 hormones are still capable of kicking up a bit of a ruckus, but I know how impermanent they are and refuse to give them more weight than they deserve. There are so many things in life that need to be taken care of first – health, money, meaningful work, recreation, etc.
The spiritual side of the relationship issue should be concerned with the “why”: Why do I want somebody in my life? Why am I not content with myself as I am? Why do I think that somebody else can improve my life? Am I actually bored with myself? Am I actually lonely? Why am I lonely in a world of six billion people? Who is lonely? Who is needy? As you know, this is what the sages are saying. Who is this “I” that seems to want things? Is this “I” really me? Will this “I” be able to give me lasting satisfaction? You are a spiritually-awakened person. You are nobody’s fool. You question so much in life. Why don’t you question this need for a man?
There is one more issue that comes to mind from your last email: the idea that relationships are valuable because they show you what you have to work out. I don’t agree if it means that what you work out in relationships is more valuable than what you work out out of relationships. It seems to me that one’s unconscious mind is outpicturing all the time, whether or not anyone is in front of you, and you have to deal with this stuff no matter what. Often relationships just distract you from dealing with your stuff. You often believe that if you are excited enough and loved enough the subjective stuff won’t be a problem. But this isn’t how it is. It is going to come up no matter what. It seems to me that a spiritual person is someone who understands that his or her primary responsibility in life is dealing with unresolved unconscious issues, laying them to rest once and for all. I believe that our real task here is to gain the kind of equipoise that comes from having examined one’s beliefs and opinions, one’s needs, etc. and discarded those that don’t serve one’s highest need.
Yes, I know it’s not easy, but the alternative, just leaving it all there so it can come up over and over and disturb oneself and others, is much less appealing.
Anyway, Alicia, these are my ramblings on the subject of relationship. None of it is aimed specifically at you, although some of it may be useful.
As for me, things are just fine. The Bavarian spring is lovely. I’m staying in a lovely house in a small village of nine families out in the rolling hills of upper Franconia with nothing but forests and fields, and have been taking some very nice walks. The wildflowers are in full bloom, the birds are twittering and life is just grand. My friend and his wife have just had a baby and even the baby is quite peaceful, so I don’t have to listen to much racket. Sometimes I act as babysitter, but I have to admit that I’ve got a long way to go on that one. I am not that good at being non-stop entertainment for someone who is so tuned-in that if my mind wanders for a moment, it immediately lets me know. Perhaps this could serve as a metaphor for relationship, eh?
Anyway, Aliciaji, you need to know that I love you totally and that you are one of my absolutely favorite people for a variety of reasons, none of which will be enumerated here.
~ Much love, Ram