Relationships are the toughest part of the Path.
When we are alone, dealing only with our own thoughts and hang-ups, it’s very simple to feel Eternity. We simply sit and dissolve into meditation, into Light. We let go completely. (Notice I said simple, not easy.)
When we add a relationship into our practice, whether it’s friends or something more intimate like a mate, it complicates things. Suddenly, in the middle of feeling absolutely as One with Eternity, there is this other person, smiling at us, wanting to spend time with us, showing us there is Two.
Casual friends understand when it’s time for us to meditate; it’s easy for us to close our eyes to them, and the friends disappear. We know if they are truly our friends, they will understand.
But how do we do it when we have connected with an intimate partner? Is it that simple, to close our eyes?
Yes and No. (Typical Buddhist answer, sorry.)
The practice of seated, silent meditation is the foundation for all other aspects of practice. So yes, we must give time for ourselves to dissolve into the Light, alone and united with all that is.
In our movement on earth as humans, we use the relationship with our partner as an opportunity to experience Love manifest. We look into our partner, and see the One, the Beloved. With practice, we can extend this to everyone we meet. But in the beginning, we start with just one other person.
With true love, not the conditional crap of: do this for me and I’ll give you affection, but real love, there is total respect and trust. Respect for oneself and respect for the Beloved. Trust that we know our own path, and our Beloved knows his or her path. We know sometimes those paths will be together, and sometimes not, and that love rules all action no matter what.
Is it easy to find someone with whom you can experience that level of total trust and respect and love? In this world, it is a challenge because of the deep mistrust and suffering, and because having that type of relationship requires getting over yourself while at the same time taking care of your own needs, supporting your beloved in his or her goals, and caring for the relationship you two create. Do such relationships exist? YES! Is it a ton of work? YES! Is it worth it? YES!
Your ideal partner may or may not meditate. He/She may or may not be interested in talking about spirituality. Sometimes it’s easier to be with someone who is not doing the same practice. Sometimes it’s more fun to be with someone who is.
In other words, don’t block yourself from interacting with someone just because they don’t meditate and are not interested in talking about spiritual development.
All that’s important is if they support your practice.
And if your practice is truly important to you – that is, you meditate and practice mindfulness no matter what – then you won’t be around someone who doesn’t support it for very long. There simply won’t be room in your life for someone who impedes your practice.
Relationships, while challenging, provide us with a tremendous opportunity for growth. Not everyone needs or wants an intimate relationship. That type of relationship is not necessary. But having at least one other person with whom you feel completely comfortable helps you see where you really are on the Path. After all, it’s those we love the most who we often treat the worst – because we have taken down the barriers and the masks we use to face the world. When we face Eternity, ready to dissolve into Enlightenment, there will be no masks, no barriers. So having someone to call our Beloved prepares us for that Eternal Moment.