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Justifying an Abusive Relationship
Sundari: There is a very important verse in our most important scripture the Bhagavad Gita, where the student says, “What is that terrible force within me that causes me to act contrary to my higher nature?” The teacher replies, “It is rage, born of rajoguna.” The student then says, “The mind (owing to the rage) is an entrenched tyrant, impossible to control.” And the teacher replies, “Yes, it is difficult to control but it can be brought under control by repeated practice and objectivity.”
The guna of rajas afflicts everyone in samsara to varying degrees from weak to strong. It is an unconscious force that causes a person to work against himself or herself. This unhealthy type of “relationship” you are attracted to is a manifestation of this force. You go to it over and over in your mind trying to find satisfaction and yet you reap only frustration and suffering. Both are symptoms of rajas, the power of projection. It causes desire, anger and jealousy. It makes you think that your lover is the problem or your mother is the problem or that the teacher is the problem (because he/she does not tell you what you want to hear) or even that you are the problem. But rajas is the problem. Well, rajas is not actually a problem, because it is just an impersonal unconscious energy, but failure to understand it is a problem. Sometimes it is very helpful. However, it becomes a problem when you identify with it and become complicit.
Identification with it is unconscious. Because you cannot understand it you are frustrated and punish yourself with anger; this anger is also the cause of jealousy. Desire always leads to anger. Fear of loss produces jealousy. Jealousy is the fear of losing what you do have or the fear of not gaining something that you want, because you believe you are inadequate and the object will complete you. Jealousy is a more socially acceptable explanation for anger or rage. The rage one feels is always rage toward oneself for not following dharma, respecting the wholeness and completeness that you are.
At the bottom of these negative emotions is the simple fact that you do not love yourself properly. If know what love is, that it is your nature, you would not try to find it in a relationship with someone else, particularly with a person who is completely confused about his or her real nature. You would not make romantic statements about the profound insights that this painful and stupid relationship supposedly brings. Even if the insights are profound, the rage/jealousy remains. If you loved yourself properly you would have good discrimination and be non-attached to the idea of relationships. Or you would choose a partner who was worthy, i.e. a psychologically healthy person with decent values.
This man you are “addicted” to is as dysfunctional in the love department as you are. You don’t love yourself because you don’t know who you really are. You have an intellectual appreciation of it, but you do not know why you are lovable and why this love frees you from the need for relationships and the rage of rajas.
The solution to rajas is “repeated practice and objectivity.” This means that you have to know that you are awareness and what it means to be awareness. You have to stand as awareness when Daphne’s craving for love pushes her to seek it outside. This is very difficult, almost impossible, when there is such strong rage. There is another verse in the same chapter talking about the power of rajas, desire, in this case the desire for love. It says that the love that you are is hidden by desire and it gives three examples: just as fire is hidden by smoke, a mirror is covered by dust and a foetus is hidden in the womb.
Some desires are like smoke; they blow away with the first winds of clarity (sattva). Others are more difficult to remove, like dust on a mirror. One needs to get out some cleanser and a cloth, and apply elbow grease before they yield. This is “repeated practice and objectivity.” We call it the practice of self-knowledge. The third kind is so deep within that it needs to work out naturally in the course of your life, just as a foetus needs to come out naturally on its own. You cannot reach inside the womb and pull it out before the right time or it will not survive. You will have to live out this karma.
Your need for love from a man is an example of the third kind of desire. This desire for outside love is really a desire for wholeness, i.e. self-love, masquerading as a desire for a relationship. If you understand the value of dharma, the power of desire would not put your life in the hands of that wounded rebellious little girl that rages within you. She knows there is something wrong with her but she cannot fix herself. That is why I said that you (speaking of her) is the last person to be an expert about either who you really are or who you think you are.
Before you can really heal this part of yourself you definitely have to admit your helplessness and surrender, not to a teacher or anyone else, but to God, meaning Isvara. Surrender to God is a lot more than just knowing there is God.
God appears as the dharma field, an intelligently designed matrix of physical, psychological and spiritual laws. Furthermore, you need to know that Daphne does not surrender. You surrender Daphne. But you cannot surrender her if you think you are her.
When you come to this understanding in life, you are ready for Vedanta and you may very well be blessed with a proper teacher. But if you have not come to that understanding, you will leave the power for your life in the hands of that damaged little girl, you will seek external solutions and teachers who will validate her.
If you have to work out a deep desire like this – you need to work it out – you cannot suppress it or pretend you don’t have it or worse, just declare any kind of relationship a non-dual relationship and expect it to work. It will only work when you are free of the need for a relationship. There are very few people who are free. One cannot bury such deep samskaras; facing them and working them out or waiting patiently until they work out on their own is what we call sadhana, spiritual practice. You cannot avoid it or the freedom that you are will not be free.
One way to face this desire is to work it out in the relationship with the karma yoga understanding/attitude. In this way the relationship becomes a spiritual practice that prepares you for freedom – from Daphne. But you cannot do a relationship as karma yoga unless you understand what karma yoga is and what dharma is and what liberation is. You think you understand, but you do not understand. If you understood, you would not choose to have a relationship with a sexually greedy person and justify it even when you know it is wrong, returning to it like a moth to the flames of suffering.
This is a psychological problem. Yes, it has a spiritual root which you vaguely, but don’t really, understand. Very importantly, you also need a deep and thorough understanding of the gunas and how to manage them (triguna vibhava yoga). This requires a fearless moral inventory; see what values underpin Daphne’s fears and desires; take a close look at all lifestyle issues.
The “therapeutic” branch of Vedanta is called yoga, and it is about negating desires and fears – vasanas – that disturb the mind, particularly rajas and tamas. It is “scientific” in that it is not ego-based. You do not “treat” yourself, except by living a certain way and thinking a certain way. When the rajas and the tamas have been reduced to manageable proportions, then you are ready for Vedanta.
If the desire for relationship cannot be negated, go into it fully. Forget about moksa. Don’t judge Daphne for wanting it, just embrace it, leave yourself open to the pleasure and pain that will come your way. If you are going to remain in the emotionally-abusive “relationship” do it with your eyes open and tell yourself the truth about: you don’t love and respect yourself enough to find love with someone who loves and respects themselves.
~ Om and prem, Sundari