by Devrah Lavall
A very wise meditation master once said, “The greatest suffering in the human form is that we are not seen as already perfect and divine.”
I’ve recently spoken with many people, all from very different cultures, who feel that they can no longer bear the conflict and pressure in their relationships. Such complaints are reflected in our divorce rates, which are unprecedented, and they beg the question “What is the real purpose of relationships?” Many people are coming to recognize that relationships based on externals such as sex or power or just not wanting to be alone, are like houses built on shifting sand. They won’t hold up when the waves and the storms come. The delirium of romance can be intoxicating, but once the honeymoon stage has passed, unless we deepen our connection to the real essence of Union, we will only flit to other partners, never experiencing the deep rewards arising from relationships based on true love.
The turmoil of personal relationships is exacerbated by stress arising from the acceleration of time and the proliferation of technology and is reflected in the violence and wars in the world, and in the destruction of our planet. The Hindu scriptures speak about this age as Kali Yuga – the dark age of man or the age of quarrel and confusion. At such a time, all of our ego tendencies are amplified, which is problematic on one hand, but also poses a unique opportunity for our souls to evolve more rapidly than they would otherwise. Just as coal, when subjected to intense heat and pressure, can become a diamond, the human being, subjected to the intensity of Kali Yuga, can become one with the God Self, which is the true source of relationships.
Our soul work starts with the ones we love, the ones who know our deepest secrets and our worst fears. These close relationships are the primary stepping stones to learning how to love unconditionally. But bringing love and compassion to one another in these dark times is more easily said than done. Our insecurities, disappointments or expectations that the other person is responsible for our happiness can get in the way. No wonder we want to run from or push away the relationships that most strongly reflect our darkness.
Just as Kali Yuga is an opportunity for the individual soul to evolve, it is also an opportunity for our relationships to evolve as we learn to embrace one another and to have compassion for the human foibles we all share. Those who have been in long-term relationships know the rage, hatred and disconnection that can arise as we mirror each other’s deepest pain. How can we bridge such separation? How can we become one with those we love? How can we transcend the endless conflicts about finances, domestic routines and intimacy issues, never mind the cultural, religious and political disagreements that create even more reasons for us to push one another out of our hearts? Communicating our feelings about these things may not necessarily help if they are not shared in an openhearted way, or if the other is not ready to hear what we have to say.
Perhaps we can take our cue from the 13th century mystical poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, who said, “Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.” This applies to our hearts as well as our physical surroundings. It expresses the “perfect” relationship to others and to life itself. When we can be the soul of the relationship we are in, when we can remember that this person whom we might be upset with just wants to be seen through the eyes of love, we can change the lens through which we are looking. Instead of seeing only the problems and accompanying flaws in the other, we can see their inherent innocence and divinity.
We can often shift out of our dissatisfactions in relationships when we focus on what we are grateful for rather than on what is lacking. When we focus on our complaints, we will reinforce others’ shortcomings, but when we focus on love, gratitude and forgiveness, we empower the other. This applies not only to our personal relationships but to our world as well.
Another practice that helps transcend blame and hatred in relationships is to ask ourselves this question: “What part of me is he or she expressing right now?” This is an effective way to own the deficiencies we so often project onto others. None of us is free from darkness. This contemplation can help us develop compassion and love for the other because it reminds us of our own foibles.
Where there is love there is no ego. When we make our love stronger than our greed, we will be able to protect each other as well as our Earth. When we make our love stronger than our judgements, we will listen to and understand the unique beauty and intelligence in others. When we make our love stronger than our pride, we will see God in everyone, even our enemies. When we make our love stronger than our criticism, we won’t sweat the small stuff. When we make our love stronger than our doubt, we will never feel alone. We will have a constant relationship with the Perfect One, who knows our every thought, word and deed and is closer than our own breath. Every day, we will see the whole world and each person in it as a part of us and we will experience the sheer joy of being in the most perfect relationship of all.
Devrah Laval is author of The Magic Doorway Into the Divine. She is a spiritual counsellor and has facilitated groups and workshops for over 25 years. www.themagicdoorway.com