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Seeking a Relationship to Work Out Vasanas
Seeker: One thing I’d like to ask about. I have a vasana for suffering in a relationship; I think it stems right back to the death of my grandmother, the vasana seems to be dependent on an intimate relationship. I’m not sure whether to engage in intimate relationships and see if the vasana will burn itself out or to disengage from relationship and let it linger in the darkness. It only seems to manifest in intimate relationships or perhaps it’s just more gross in such cases.
Sorry, heavy tamas right now. I guess it just boils down to whatever helps satya-mithya discrimination?
Sundari: Well, everything regarding self-inquiry boils down to satya-mithya discrimination. If you see the vasana and understand how it works, know that it does not come from you but from the causal body – the “darkness,” or unconscious. It is an eternal and universal vasana, not personal. There is nothing right or wrong about repeating a particular behaviour. Certain habits are good and certain habits are not, depending on what you are trying to achieve. As discriminating inquirers, we are interested in the psychology behind our behaviour, not the behaviours themselves, although certain behaviours are completely off limits, such as those that violate dharma or cause injury to ourselves or others. The basic psychology operating behind most of our unhelpful behaviours is fear, a sense of lack. Fear is always originates from ignorance.
Suffering invariably accompanies romantic intimate relationships because they are entered for the wrong reasons – with the hope that they will deliver something you do not already have or solve a problem – which as an inquirer, you know is impossible. Nobody can give you anything or be the solution to any of your problems. Only self-knowledge provides permanent solutions to anything in mithya. As a psychologist, you must be all too familiar with the fact that unconscious motivations are behind most things people do or don’t do. Until we have some level of self-knowledge or at the very least self-objectivity, we do not realize that we are never in relationship with another person, but our vasanas are in relationship with their vasanas.
As an inquirer, you know that the joy or the solution to anything in mithya is in never in mithya – in another object. It is in you, the self. There is no need (and it is not advisable) to enter a relationship for the purpose of burning up a vasana. Isvara will give you plenty of opportunities without the additional karma of a relationship. And as an inquirer, you no longer seek a relationship for any reason, because it is contrary to self-inquiry. Seeking implies dependence, and self-inquiry is about freedom from dependence on objects.
So the correct approach for you to this binding vasana is to continue doing inquiry into it and instead of acting upon it, take a stand in awareness as awareness, with the karma yoga attitude. In time, karma yoga will lessen the pressure of this vasana and eventually, assuming you keep your attention on the self, it will burn up in the knowledge.
If this is a deeply-seated pratibandika, which it sounds like it is, remember this:
There Are Three Types of Vasanas
There are basically three types or categories of vasanas – smoke or fire, grime on a mirror and fetus in the womb.
1. Smoke or Fire: These vasanas disturb the mind but are negated without too much effort. Like smokes dissipates on its own and fire is extinguished by water, we can dissolve this type of tendency quite easily. Examples of this are things that we can forgo relatively easily – like wanting an ice cream, for instance (unless we have a pathological addiction to it!), anything patently gratuitous.
2. Grime on a Mirror: Grime on a mirror, which has been there for a while, needs elbow grease to remove it. These tendencies are not so easy to negate and require diligent practise of self-knowledge. Examples of this are habitually talking too much, eating too much, indulging any of the senses too much, frantic activity, manipulating to get our own way – any habit that is binding but we are aware of it.
3. Fetus in the Womb: Just like a fetus in the womb takes nine months to gestate in order to develop fully, so these tendencies cannot be removed before they come to fruition. This kind of vasana usually creates samskaras (conglomerations of vasanas) or pratibandikas – deeply entrenched, and most often deeply unconscious, habits.
I think you already know all this, but it bears keeping in mind.
~ Much love, Sundari