Unburdening Spiritual Relationships

Posted on August 29, 2012

Lets make happiness work! That’s not an easy thing for two people with conditioned minds. But for a spiritual partnership to succeed, we must change how we think, feel and act – and especially what we have learned to expect from our partner. It’s fundamental, often confusing, and always wonderful work!

Unknowingly we are burdened by unconscious expectations of our partner. These expectations are deeply embedded in our culture and since childhood we have been told – what amounts to a lot of lies. And innocently we have believed them.

I’ll tell you the secret right away: your expectations of your partner are completely unattainable. They inevitably will lead to failure and tension. Let me explain.

Happiness arises from within. The state of your heart and mind is your own creation. In reality you are never anyone’s victim. You are deeply happy when you taste the pure essence of your being. It spreads from your heart into your emotions, your behavior, your body, your relationships, and your whole world.

The same is true for unhappiness. It too is your own creation. This is not so easy to see, because when the heart shuts down, the ego-mind is addicted to blaming and to complaining. When you see someone else as the source of your pain, you get to be right – but you also get to be a victim.

If you take a moment right now to sense how this has been true for you, then be aware of the feelings and sensations that shift through your body. Embrace them, treat them kindly – they are a part of you that needs help.

There is a happiness that is solid like the core of the earth. It is not fleeting, because it derives its strength from the deep well within you. You have tasted it many times. It is the solid joy and peace you have known, if even just for glimpses here and there.

It arises when the layers of stressful thoughts and emotions suddenly give way and you are able to feel your true heart. Circumstances may trigger it, but always – both happiness and misery are an inside job.

These are the basics, and you know this – but often it seems so definite that your partner causes you happiness or causes you misery. It appears so, because you believe your own mind.

It appears so because since childhood you have heard a million times how this special other will complete you, will make you whole. And you have innocently believed it, not realizing that you were expecting the impossible.

On the other hand many voices around you have confirmed thoughts like these: marriages are difficult, people hurt other people, men are insensitive and unconscious, women are manipulative and too emotional, and on and on, negative messages in millions of variations.

But let’s leave our conditioning behind for a moment and lets deal with reality. Let’s leave behind the unquestioned beliefs that have turned us into victims of our own mistaken perceptions.

Your partner serves you in two ways: first by being loving, kind and supportive. That’s easy. That’s why you’re with him or her. And secondly he/she serves you by pushing your buttons, by aggravating, frustrating and confusing you. Ouch! How could that be serving you?

You did want to get free of your anger, your fear, your confusion, didn’t you? How are you going to do this, if you can’t even see them?  Your partner’s job is to show you where you are not yet enlightened, your reactive patterns that have tortured you for a lifetime, or perhaps many lives.

Having that special someone push your buttons serves you IF you want your happiness to become solid and unshakable as a mountain.

> From a practical point of view, here is what you can do:

  1. Realize that your partner is perfect for you. Your personality picked him (or her) for his pleasant side – and your soul picked him because of the deep reality of love between you, and also because his/her personality can perfectly aggravate yours so you can become free, become permanently “un-aggravatable.” You can be upset about your partner’s blind spots only from within yours. In other words, what aggravates you in your partner, you also have in you in some way, but you cannot yet see it there. Once you do, you come to realize that his shortcomings are really your grace. The truth that you see depends on the clarity of your mind. Only a completely clear mind allows you to experience your world through the heart. Only the heart can make you happy. Only in the heart are you free.
  2. Your personality will react to your partner’s (perfect) button pushing in some of four predictable ways: by “fight, flight, indulge or complain.” At first you may completely succeed in convincing you that you know what his/her problem is, or – better yet – that he IS the problem. Then you will have an external or internal battle with him/her. This is of course a battle you can only lose. And you will ignore the only thing that can actually improve your situation: to look at you and change you.
  3. As soon as the drama becomes a little more transparent and your soul gets a say in the matter, you can begin to defocus from your partner and look at your own patterns. Here are some examples:
  • If your partner withdraws, your old pattern may be to feel abandoned and to do everything to reconnect with your partner – which, of course, will only push him further away. If this is your pattern, it is important that you deeply question your thoughts of abandonment and betrayal. It sets you free and in this freedom you may notice that his/her temporary absence is actually giving you some nice private time, some space to first reconnect with yourself, get grounded and look at reality with a deeper and peaceful awareness.
  • If you experience your partner as angry, you may go into fight or flight. If fighting back is your habit, try to separate for a while to cool off, or stay as aware as you can in your battle. Notice how addictive it is to fight and complain. Your brain is awash with the chemistry of your rage, your mind is completely clouded and your heart closed. Becoming a detached witness to this temporary madness will lighten it and eventually release you from its grip. If you tend to withdraw (flight) from his/her anger, you may well have to get away for a while to clear your mind. Notice however, how you are taking your partner with you, obsessing about him and getting deeply into his business. Instead try to calm yourself down, take some time off from your stressful thoughts and emotions. (Mantras work very well to refocus your attention). You deserve a break, not so much from him/her, but from your mind.
  • If your feel your partner is smothering you, either with attachment, emotional neediness, or with control, listen to your internal truth. Become still, so you can hear your inner voice and let it direct your actions and expressions according to your wisdom mind. In this way you will find the steps to not feed the attachment and not remain a victim of control. Your inner wisdom will guide you perfectly. It will let you know what the most loving ways are to improve your relationship.

To free yourself of your reaction patterns is the great work of awakening from the trances of unconsciousness that keep us imprisoned. Your partner’s role in this is precious, to show you where you are not yet enlightened. Do you appreciate it? Have you told him or her so?

Unconditional love does not say, “I love you if… you don’t aggravate me, you only tell me what I want to hear, you are the way I want you to be.”

Unconditional love only loves. It loves the bad with the good, and realizes that for a yogi – a conscious being – nothing can ever be bad, because everything is sent to us as a necessary step to our liberation.

A spiritual partnership is the Divine Self awakening itself in two people. It has the highest possible purpose. Your partner is God in disguise, doing what he/she does to help you to awaken. The fact that he/she aggravates, saddens, scares, or confuses you means that precious learning is in store for you.

When you look very closely at what actually happens between two people, you will come to see that in reality no one but you can ever cause you mental and emotional pain. It comes from your reactivity. Just look: if your partner says one angry word, how long are you dwelling on this? Hours? Days? Has it become a deeply held conviction that you cannot be happy with him unless he changes?

These are the habits of victims, victims of their own folly and blindness, and we all have been conditioned for it. If you are abused for a moment, how long do you abuse yourself by replaying the scene in your mind and justifying your stressful reactions?

Freedom comes from within. Your partner holds the key to it, both in his/her light and his shadow, his warmth and his coldness, his gentleness and his roughness. It is you who can use the key to let you out of the self-created jail of your inability to see God everywhere…to see reality as it is.

Finally, lets take this even further. Let’s elevate our view beyond this dance of personalities. Since God, pure Being, is everywhere, then He/She is also in you and your partner. Your task is to help each other increase this awareness.

But whenever you give into your enchantment with your desires and aversions, you define yourself erroneously not as the majestic Self, but as an ego, a tiny wave on the surface of the infinite ocean of God. Your true identity is not the wave. It is the depth of your being, the ocean itself, with its unshakable and eternal peace.

Once you have the sense that you are the ocean, then look: How could the movement of two waves with each other upset the ocean? Rather, it is the ocean of wisdom who creates the movement of the waves with each other, so they can remind each other of their true, vast, and always peaceful identity.

In the deepest view we do not live these lives, but we are lived by a higher truth, a higher reality, a consciousness beyond our small human understanding. This vast and caring awareness lives as us and awakens us to the ocean of Love in our hearts.

With this understanding you can then get down to the practical work of undoing the ways you make yourself miserable, step out of the habit of being a victim of people and circumstances, and come to know the immortal Source of all wisdom and peace within you.

And in this endeavor, your partner will be your best friend.


With love,

and the Skills for Awakening team


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4 Responses to “Unburdening Spiritual Relationships”

  1. Kamala
    Aug 29, 2012

    Although I don’t have the type of partner you are referring to, your words hit a perfect note. Life itself gives me all the challenges you are speaking of. I feel as if God is my partner — my beloved, and in such God finds ways to push ALL my buttons in such a perfect and maddening manner. Your words helped me see this more clearly.

  2. Inge Sengelmann
    Aug 30, 2012

    Masterful, Ram Giri. I am happy to say that I fully agree, and therefore I am ever grateful for all the ways in which my partner “triggers” all those responses. They arise so I can heal, and so I can learn to truly be the love that is the only true reality. Much love to you and thank you for your teachings.

  3. Cristine, the Human
    Nov 04, 2012

    I wish I could be conscious enough to see reality AS IT OCCURS, rather than after the fact…
    Thank you for your words – Practise makes perfect and I trust that because of the love I have for this partner, I shall become a better one myself!

    Thank you and Bless you!

  4. Administrator
    Nov 04, 2012

    Hello Christine,
    The key to becoming increasingly aware – and thereby save yourself future suffering – is a regular daily spiritual practice, as well as satsang, keeping ‘sacred company.’
    Learning each time from past actions is also perfect. The development is gradual.
    Let your love inspire you to practice and all shall be well.
    Much love
    Ram Giri

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