Week Seven at-home reading

 

 

 

Week 7: The Role of Relationships

 

 

Note: The first half of this reading is organized into 6 “rules” of relationship, with corresponding passages from the Guides. They are really more concepts or principles than rules, but they come from an evening workshop I offer called “The Spiritual Rules of Relationship,” so I kept them as is. The sections in bold are my synthesis, and the italics as always are the Guides. The second half of the reading, from the bottom of p. 10 on, is more elaboration from the Guides on these ideas. Enjoy!

 

 

•••

 

Rule #1:

“Perfect” human love is myth.

Human love is by nature imperfect, and designed that way in order to help our souls along their journey of growth.

 

The idea of “true love” on the human level is a bit of a trick. That is to say, the expression implies a condition that does not exist on the human plane, at least not for any length of time. And the idea of “true love” or “merging”—the “you complete me” school of romantic thinking—sets people up to fail, to feel disappointment within relationships that may in fact be lovely in every other way, perfect vehicles for them to become who they need to become at that time and at that stage in their evolution.

 

This is not the endpoint. This human relationship, this marriage, this love, however “true” or “perfect” or flawed or frustrating, is not the end goal but a means to an end, a mutual agreement between two souls who want nothing more than to support each other’s growth, regardless of what that may look like on the human plane.

 

The souls are not confused. The souls are not disappointed or frustrated or disillusioned. Not in the least. Not even if the relationship fails or falls apart. Our souls understand what we do not, at least not consciously: that our love for each other is not bounded by time or expectation or roles or obligation.

 

That our love for each other is part of a much bigger Love, a grander endeavor, of which our small human interactions are only a tiny part.

 

 

•••

 

 

Rule #2:

Conflict and hurt between loved ones is normal and inevitable on this plane of duality.

The closest we can get to “true love” in our human form is to accept that such messiness is OK, to forgive ourselves and each other (even in advance), and to practice repair and/or loving release.

 

Human beings hurt each other. It is part of human love. There is no need for shame about that. Ask for forgiveness and try again. That is all you are expected to do. That is the highest form of human love.

 

You are each at your own individual levels of development, all of them different, all of them perfect for what they are, all of them ruled, by a little or a lot, by the human ego, with its grasping, injurious ways. And so, inevitably, there will be hurts and disappointments, betrayals and aggravations, all over the place. And that is OK.

 

To get to a point where you can allow the fact that you, your human self, incite feelings in others which cause them to suffer, and to forgive that fact, both in themselves and in you—is that not great love?

 

Is that not a beautiful gesture toward your own and the other’s humanness? Is that not a way of saying, I love and accept you despite your humanness, because of your humanness, just as I love and accept myself?

 

What then can destroy that love? If hate cannot destroy it, if violent feelings cannot destroy it, then what you have is truly eternal.

 

That is the power of accepting the presence of “hate” within yourself and another. The promise of True Love in human form.

 

 

•••

 

Rule #3:

We don’t owe one another anything, and we’re each on our own separate soul paths.

Letting our loved ones go—freeing them from expectation and respecting their distinct paths even if we don’t understand them—actually yields greater closeness.

 

As relates to adult relationships, to consensual bonds, the rules are clear from a soul perspective. No one owes another anything. Let there be no sense of obligation. Not because you may not choose to make a commitment to another person. But because obligation tends to snuff the light out of Love.

The freedom to let others walk their paths and the freedom to walk one’s own is what the heart longs for. This does not mean separating from a person physically or even emotionally. It just means realigning one’s expectations or assumptions about the level of ownership or control one has over another, and turning the attention to God and the Self.

 

The Love that then rushes in to fill that empty space, and the gratitude that emerges once we realize that another person does not “belong” to us but is nonetheless in our life as a Divine gift, is truly remarkable and worth all the effort and courage it takes to let go.

 

Relationship is not an exchange. It is not, you give me this, and I give you that. It is, this is Who I Am, and this is Who You Are, and we are free.

 

 

•••

 

 

Rule #4:

We can’t “save” or “rescue” anyone, and when we try, we actually impede their growth as well as our own.

Instead, we can practice healthy boundaries or “energy hygiene,” staying in our own energy and neither giving away what is ours nor taking on what is someone else’s.

 

If you take on another’s challenges, you deprive him of his own. You deprive him of the opportunity to learn.

 

Do not try to rescue another. Do not try and fix him. Do not even try to steer him in what you perceive as the “right” direction.

 

The compassionate soul wants to help, wants to intercede and save and bless and do anything it can to lessen the suffering of another. This is a beautiful thing. But it is also a dangerous thing, in that it can prevent growth on the part of both individuals.

 

The “savior” gets drawn into his or her role just as much as the “saved,” and both are hamstrung, one by the help, and the other by the helping.

 

There is no fault here. The heart wants to help, and the other wants to be helped. And yet, at a certain level of consciousness, there is a need to move on, a need to detach oneself from the (apparent) needs of others, a need to set limits, a need to learn to love in a new way entirely.

 

To help others, bless them. Pray for them. Love them. But love without attachment, without expectation. You do not need to heal them.

 

They are perfect as they are. They are where they need to be, as are you. Bow to them, and to yourself.

 

 

•••

 

 

Rule #5:

Even the toughest relationships deserve our gratitude.

On a soul level, no relationship is worthless or failed, and every one is full of gifts. The most difficult ones can break our hearts open and turn us inward and toward the Divine.

 

The appropriate attitude [toward any relationship] is gratitude.

 

As in, thank you for sharing this time with me. Thank you for loving me.

 

Or, thank you for not loving me, as much as that hurt—and the grief involved here may be enormous and a huge task in itself— because of what that taught me and who that made me be.

 

Thank you for being the you that you are or were in my life, even if I didn’t like it, or even if it didn’t last, or even if it didn’t turn out exactly like I planned.

 

Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my guide—the guide to my own heart, even to its emptiness, even to its pain and what we call heartbreak, which always has the potential to break the heart open, making way for more Love.

 

Thank you for not being perfect, so that I may see where I am not perfect, or I may see where I am misled, in expecting you to be so. Thank you for being fully human with me, for that is the greatest gift.

 

Thank you for not filling up my every need, or even for abandoning me, for that turned me toward my Self, which was the goal all along.

 

For the Self is reached, in some respects, through the imperfections of human love. Or the Self is reached for, more eloquently put, once the imperfections of human love have become apparent and yet the inchoate longing for something more remains.

 

It is that feeling—the need for “more”—that leads us to God.

 

 

•••

 

 

Rule #6: The one true and reliable source of Love is the Divine.

Ultimately, as we grow and develop on a soul level, we turn inward and find an inexhaustible source of love within, the Divine as accessed through the Self.

 

With the release of the other from the “bonds” of love in the form of expectation—and the free flow of Love that results—comes also the freedom of the soul to seek the Divine within the Self. Because at last the location of the search has then become clear. It is not in the other but in the self/Self.

 

Eventually we find in ourselves, among the ruins and the pain and the disappointments of many lifetimes spent looking in the wrong places, what was Here all along—

 

The Fullness of the Self, the Fullness of God, the Oneness that obliterates all “need” for the other but leaves in its place a boundless acceptance and love for all Beings, near and far, distant and close.

 

This takes many lifetimes.

 

And then the role of the person in the world becomes not just the Beloved but the Lover.

 

The Source of Love—the conduit of Divine Love to all. The focus changes from “getting” love, from seeking it, to giving it out as a way of Being. Not with effort. Not by trying. Just by Being.

So turn your attention away from what you believe you “need” from other people. Grieve what you have lost or what you’re missing if you must.

 

And then turn inward to the Source of all love, the thing you have been looking for all along. And rejoice in the turning, the seeking, the finding, and finally the radiating of what you have found out into the world.

 

This is truly the completion of a great cycle and something to celebrate. The transformation of love, which is seeking and grasping, to Love, which is full and radiating—within the soul and at long last.

 

 

More from the Guides:

 

There is so much confusion about the role of human relationships, the limits of human relationships, the purpose of human relationships, that we would like to clarify that here.

 

The role of another person in your life is not to fill your empty “holes.” It is not to take care of you. (Beyond the role of parents in raising up a child to the point where that child may care for him- or herself.) That is not to say that one person may not choose to take care of another, out of love or obligation, and that is fine and good. But it is not your “role.” That is to say, it is not why you are here.

 

And the role of a human person/a human relationship is not to validate the existence of another, to make another “feel OK.” Love may make someone “feel OK,” but that is not love’s job. Nor is it the job of the one who loves.

 

So what are human relationships for?

 

They are for learning and growth. They are for seeing ourselves and others for who we are, and accepting ourselves and others, eventually, for who we are.

 

They are for walking beside each other for the appropriate time, whatever that is, and then parting ways when that time is done. With no guilt or animosity, in the end, but rather a sense of gratitude for what has been given and what has been learned.

 

And this is where you go “wrong,” as a species. Not really wrong, because you are learning, and this is how you learn. It is the hard way, most of the time, which is why we offer these insights, so that it may become a little less hard.

 

The confusion is this: You don’t owe each other anything.

 

Does that sound strange? It does, doesn’t it? It sounds wrong and perhaps scary. Your society is built on a sense of duty, on obligation and roles. Who should do what and when and how and for whom and why. Here I’m speaking specifically of human relationships, one-on-one bonds.

 

A friend should do X.

A husband or wife should do Y.

My partner should be more like this. My spouse should be more like that.

My parents are doing it wrong, or did it badly.

My children are poorly behaved.

If only I had a partner, everything would be fine.

Or if I had a different partner.

Or if my partner were better.

Or if I were better.

 

There is a sense of lack. Something is wrong. Because it’s not supposed to feel like this. This discontent. This dissatisfaction. This underlying need for something else. For something to change.

 

And so we find fault in the ones we love. Or find fault in ourselves. Or go on an endless search to fine “the One” who will fill up the hole. Or believe we are doing it “wrong.”

 

Or believe in the fairy tale, the happy ending, the myth of the perfect marriage or the perfect family or the perfect friendship or community or neighborhood that we haven’t found yet, and in which we would finally feel “at home” and together and complete and correct and understood and met and witnessed and validated and fulfilled and seen and known and loved.

 

Do you see what kind of pressure, consciously or not, we are putting on other Beings? Other Beings who are also struggling from moment to moment and day to day and hour to hour just living their lives and juggling their desires same as us?

 

And the pressure we are putting on ourselves, as well, to “solve” the puzzle in the form of other people? To “fix” them or fix ourselves or find the right ones or get it right? To somehow, somehow, fix this mess and feel better about the whole thing.

 

Here is the crux of the issue. There is a way to feel better about the whole thing. But it does not involve anybody changing or doing it “better” or finally understanding or whatever the fantasy is about for you, whatever the illusion is about “filling the hole.”

 

The correct answer is—if we may put it so baldly—changing the way we see each other. Radically. And changing, in that sense, what we expect from each other.

 

It goes like this: Every human person is on a journey, same as you. Every human person is on a path that is different from your path. A path of their own, with its own lessons and challenges, some of which you may in no way understand, others of which you may only have glimpses.

 

The reality is, their path is not your business. Even if that person is your closest loved one. Your mother, your father, your lover or spouse, even your child. We repeat, even your child. Yes, you have a role to play in the paths of these people. And they have a role to play in yours.

 

But you do not “belong” to each other—not in the sense that your “need” for that person trumps the requirements of that person’s own path.

 

The appropriate attitude is, in other words, gratitude.

 

As in, thank you for sharing this time with me. Thank you for loving me. Or, thank you for not loving me, as much as that hurt (and the grief involved here may be enormous and a huge task in itself), because of what that taught me and who that made me be.

 

Thank you for being the you that you are or were in my life, even if I didn’t like it, or even if it didn’t last, or even if it didn’t turn out exactly like I planned. Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for being my guide—the guide to my own heart, even to its emptiness, even to its pain and what we call heartbreak, which always has the potential to break the heart open, making way for more Love.

 

Thank you for not being perfect, so that I may see where I am not perfect, or I may see where I am misled, in expecting you to be so. Thank you for being fully human with me, for that is the greatest gift.

 

Thank you for not filling up my every need, or even for abandoning me, for that turned me toward God. Which was the goal all along.

 

THAT is what I am trying to say, the misconception at the heart of your suffering where people are concerned. The goal is not them. Not perfect human love. The goal is God.

 

And God is reached, in some respects, through the imperfections of human love. Or God is reached for, more eloquently put, once the imperfections of human love have become apparent and yet the inchoate longing for something more remains. It is that feeling—the need for “more”—that leads us to God.

 

And so we venture inward. And we find in ourselves, eventually, the “more” that we were seeking. In the deep silence of the Self. In the boundless love of the Self, which is the Love of God.

 

Among the ruins and the pain and the disappointments of many lifetimes spent looking in the wrong places for what was Here all along. The Fullness of God, the Fullness of the Self, the Oneness that obliterates all “need” for the other but leaves in its place a boundless acceptance and love for all Beings, near and far, distant and close. This takes many lifetimes.

 

In the meantime, there is much bumbling about, and that is OK.

 

Even as we approach this state of Oneness, there is still the temptation to find fault in one another, to feel that if only the other person could do X or Y, we could be happy.

 

And this is not to say that the behavior of others has not impact on us, nor that it shouldn’t be “corrected,” if such correction is needed. Not all behavior should be accepted, as it relates to and affects another.

 

But that path of each person should be accepted. The destiny of each person. The lessons of each person. The extent to which each person is separate from us and to which his or her path is a mystery. One that we may not direct. One about which our opinion has little relevance, and should not. It is not our business, nor should it be.

 

That is the hardest pill to swallow, in a sense. The sense that we do not “own” anyone. Not even our spouses. Not even our children.

 

That we may not understand them. That we cannot control them. That we cannot get from them whatever it is we want, and we cannot always give to them what we want, either. The thing we may want to give, for whatever reason, may not be what they need or want.

 

And so we must let go.

 

But in the letting go, there is no loss of love. This is the misconception, and also the fear. We mistake holding on for love, when the opposite is true. Holding on is fear. Letting go is love.

 

Letting go doesn’t mean the other person gets to treat you however they want. You have a say in how you are treated. And you get to say “no” and walk away when that is what is necessary. You get to say “no more.” You get to have control over what you do and how you respond, and that’s all.

 

The beauty of letting go is the way it will make the other person feel. Free. And loved, accepted for who they are. Free to walk their path.

 

The space that is created by letting go makes room for more love. Not love as obligation. Or love as duty. But real, free-flowing love, the kind of regard that springs up between Souls who recognize each other for what they are—separate Selves on a separate journey toward the Divine.

 

Which brings us back to the other key point. With the release of the other from the “bonds” of love in the form of expectation—and the free flow of Love that results—comes also the freedom of the soul to seek the Divine within the Self. Because at last the location of the search has then become clear. It is not in the other but in the self/Self.

 

Not to say that there is not great spiritual work to be done in the human relationship, especially when both partners are conscious of the role of the awake relationship to promote such spiritual growth. But the understanding is clear—that the source of the love, the source of the learning, the source of the sense of fullness, is not in the other but in the self. From the Divine, through the Self.

 

And then the role of the person in the world becomes not just the Beloved but the Lover.

 

The Source of Love—the conduit of Divine Love to all. The focus changes from “getting” love, from seeking it, to giving it out as a way of Being. Not with effort. Not by trying. Just by Being.

 

And once that happens—be it years or lifetimes—the Circle is complete. The Beloved has become the Source of Love, unleashed in the world. Radiating that Love on others, making them the Beloved, awakening them to Divine Love, if only for a moment. And so on, and so on.

 

So turn your attention away from what you believe you “need” from other people. Grieve what you have lost or what you’re missing if you must.

 

And then turn inward to the Source of all love, the thing you have been looking for all along. And rejoice in the turning, the seeking, the finding, and finally the radiating of what you have found out into the world.

 

This is truly the completion of a great cycle and something to celebrate. The transformation of love, which is seeking and grasping, to Love, which is full and radiating—within the soul and at long last.

 

Amen. Thanks Be to God.