The light-dark (yin-yang) aspects can hover over one like a shadow. Emotional turbulence can exhibit itself in frustration, anger and, worse, we stop feeling love, we stop feeling freedom, we stop feeling happiness, we lose ourselves in opposing another. The archetype plays out like so.
We fall in love. We fight. We roar. We want. We need. We never get all our needs met. We strive for more. We lose. We fall. We break up. We cry. We yearn. We get back together again. We love outrageously.
We will do anything because we're so afraid of losing love and connection.
Relationships are always an adventure - we can't outsmart them, avoid the pain or avoid doing the work.
Whether requited or unrequited, what happens when there is doubt or hesitation on either side? Or the fire starts to dim and flickers or, worse, goes permanently lukewarm? Or if one's chosen bedmate is spending too much time at work, at the health club or with his secretary?
"What hurts you, blesses you.
No matter how fast you run, your shadow keeps up.
Darkness is your candle.
Your boundaries are your quest.
You must have shadow and light source both."
Don't fight the shadow. Don't fight the darkness. Don't fight the unwanted feelings. Darkness can be a friend. Without darkness, there would be no light.
Relationships merely hold up a mirror to what is real and waiting to be addressed, felt, acknowledged. As needy and complex beings, relationships are the field in which we express our neuroses, our needs and complexities.
When it feels like it sucks - or it does just suck! - is there a wellspring we can tap into for answers? Is it possible to tap into the infinite and unknowable field of oneness, love and compassion that pervades existence and just stay there (like forever!)? Do we ever need to come back (and do the washing)? Can we find the answers we need in Bodhisattva?
Bodhisattva practices in Tibetan Buddhism involve selfless love for others without any self interest.
In relationship terms, this would involve completely surrendering to love another unconditionally. The active part of love would involve a willingness to know another without judgment or attachment - yet at the same time investing one's full attention in caring for one another wholeheartedly. One would always remain faithful to the unselfish component, putting another's needs first - always!
Sound simple enough? It's easy too!
For those narcissistically inclined amongst us (I daresay, a vociferous minority), how is it possible to put another first unless it's one's own child? How is it possible to give without wanting or expecting reward? How is it possible to love unconditionally?
This would entail serving another's needs as more important than one's own; refusing to cling to another person under one's own volition, pure acceptance, pure lovingkindness.
"No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path." Gautama Buddha, Sayings Of Buddha
One can be of pure heart, pure mind and pure body while knowing that life is ephemeral, and maintain a detachment to the maya of another person, as one retains a detachment to the maya of oneself. But surely, sometimes we just want things, sometimes we still just expect things from our partner? Sometimes, we just NEED things.
Sometimes, we think and feel things (selfishly focused on the self). Also, we get accustomed to certain behaviours, we get attached to things, like for instance, when your partner brings you coffee or tea in the morning. If they were to suddenly stop, wouldn't you feel "deprived"? Wouldn't this lead to suffering?
I believe the answer lies in setting one's mind to zero, letting go of everything. Reaching a zero point is like starting all over from nothing, much like resetting your computer - no attachments, no addictions, no sankaras.
If your hard-drive got completely cleaned, you could start your computer like starting it for the first time at point zero. Clinging to nothing. Hence, discovering boundlessness, freedom and happiness.
"If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free." - Thích Nhất Hạnh
When we think about something, it gets stored in the memory. The mind becomes habituated to patterns of thinking and feeling. A reset is required to clear the residual memory and begin again from nothing.
When we think something, it gets loaded into the software of the mind, and hardware of the brain. It will stay there until deleted. Negative thoughts can be replaced by positive thoughts with attention, intention, awareness and meditation. If one intends it, it will occur effortlessly over time.
Reaching zero point in a relationship means starting again from ground zero, forgetting everything, and hence being allowed to be completely present for one another, coming from love.
"The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself." - Thích Nhất Hạnh
Then you can forge ahead again, walking the path of dhamma together, knowing that you may not always face the same direction, yet remaining compassionate whatever your personal mood or leaning.
Mettā is an unconditional altruistic love that cares for another without attachment. It is far removed from the experience of love as sexual desire. Yet, many who follow this practice will verify that however unselfish one's practice, the more one loves others, the more one touches Bodhisattva and feels complete bliss. If I cause love, then I will experience love.
There is a spontaneous and natural fountain called love. It springs from within, yet arguably it comes from Union with the Divine. Whatever, its source, it is boundless, intelligent, infinite, omniscient and equanimous. Love wishes that all experience love; compassion wishes that all experience compassion. Love and compassion wish that all beings cease suffering and find joy.
There are many levels and personalities within the field of love. Love is something that cannot be defined or reduced in the definition itself. Definitions are in themselves limitations, the type of narrowed 'thought compartments' that go against the flow of love. When we focus on left-brain hypotheses, we can easily get stuck in the cerebellum and never move beyond it! This is not the way of love.
Love is being and doing without effort, something that is beyond quantification, requiring experimentation, exploration and experience.
In relationship terms, a true Buddhist must refuse to cling to another person, detached enough to know that all of life is ephemeral. A perfect relationship works when love is friendship without neediness, service without obligation, giving without the expectation to receive.
Is it possible to ever reach perfection? Only if we reach enlightenment, and the Buddha didn't reach enlightenment within a relationship, so perfection does not exist.
Rather focus on being real, focus on love and contentment that is authentic; focus on contentment; focus on giving; focus on resolving your own shadow, your own neediness, and not blaming your partner for your feelings, for your unmet needs. Let the authenticity of who you are shine through and allow you to be who you are with your whole heart.
Take responsibility for everything you have in your relationship and that will be the start.
The whole purpose of a relationship is Divine - to set ourselves free - and in doing so to set our partner free.
David is a channel for Divine wisdom. His intuitive coaching, speaking and healing sessions invoke purposeful shifts into deeper connection, confidence, self love, abundance and happiness. An empath, David's healing is focused on bridging the gap between addressing core wounds and reaching limitless possibilities, to living an extraordinary life. David’s passion for synthesising Eastern and Western approaches to spiritual wellbeing, has seen him immersing himself in the biblical tradition as a monastic, studying Western Naturopathic Medicine and Buddhist / Taoist Healing under three living masters － Master Chen in China, Grand Master Mantak Chia (Time magazine’s top 100 most spiritually influential living people) in Thailand and Ajahn Brahm (one of the world’s foremost masters of meditation) in Australia.