‘Relationship is the best seminar in town.’ – Ram Dass
Have you noticed that things are changing rapidly around us now in all kinds of ways? People have been talking about the shifts of 2012 and ‘the end of the world’ for so long, and to me, it’s becoming impossible to ignore that these changes are finally happening. With ‘the end of the world’ I mean ‘the end of the world as we know it’ – we are transitioning from one way of living into another, with the consciousness of humanity rising rapidly. I can see evidence of it everywhere: old useless patterns are falling away, people are struggling for freedom and justice and are coming together to create more authentic, sustainable ways of living.
This shift is particularly noticeable to me in Germany, where I live right now. I have been abroad for twenty-one years and maybe this is why I see it all the more now. I’m amazed at what has happened to the country. Suddenly, famous TV chefs are vegan and organic; organic shops are sprouting everywhere; fair trade and ethical banking are becoming more mainstream; the once conservative magazines like ‘Spiegel’ and ‘Geo’ are running special issues about yoga, meditation and downshifting into simple ways of living; more and more people are giving up stressful jobs to live less lucrative, but more fulfilling creative lives in the countryside. The smallest villages now have yoga studios that focus on introspection as well as health. Of course, there’s still much room for growth and change, but the important thing is that it’s happening and that there is a noticeable shift in people’s consciousness.
Also our relationships seem to be changing drastically. We seem to be realizing now more than ever what the true, or perhaps, the spiritual purpose of relationships is, and how to conduct within these new boundaries. It’s like the outdated concepts of both patriarchy and matriarchy are finally merging into a marriage of male and female energies within, and that we are starting to connect from a more balanced and powerful place now.
This brings about much disquiet and confusion in some of us. If many of the old concepts and securities are falling away, then what do we want our relationships to look like in a conscious age? What are our relationships really about now? And, if personal and spiritual growth is on our agenda, then how can we reflect this through our partnerships?
Personally, it has taken me a long time to understand what relationships are really about. Brought up, like many of us, on a diet of romantic movies, novels and ideals, it took me many years of trial, error and heartache to finally understand that relationships are mirrors and accelerators for our growth. Intimacy, if we have the courage to allow it, can be one of the greatest transformational powers in our lives. It takes much introspection, awareness and humility to understand and work through our samskaras, our conditioning, and not blame our partners for our problems and inner conflicts. This can be painful at times, but ultimately, also very liberating. As I wrote in my forthcoming book ‘Meeting Shiva’, which is all about the spiritual purpose of intimate relationships, ‘no knife cuts as swiftly, deeply and precisely as the blade of the Beloved. ‘And what is being cut away are the layers of the false Self, of the immature ego, that hold us back from being who we truly are.
Sometimes, our commitment to personal growth may also mean that we have to let go of a relationship if it doesn’t support us or the other person any longer. In fact, sometimes, letting go, as hard as it is, can be the greatest act of love because we understand that this is what is best for the overall situation right now. When we overcome emotional attachment and focus on love, we realize that there is no separation. Love is always going to be there, even when we are apart, and when the time is right, this very love may bring us back together again. It’s about trusting the mystery of life to unfold itself and knowing that when we are committed to our path and to growing into all we can be, everything will fall into place.
When I look around me now, more and more people are engaging in a new kind of relationship that is based on honesty, transparency, personal responsibility, freedom and conscious communication. I am very excited about this new form our relationships are taking – mature relationships that are based on complete freedom and trust, and not on emotional attachment. Such connections, which are hard to find and quite possibly even harder to maintain, have the potential to truly revolutionize our lives.
I recently listened to a satsang with Adyashanti, in which he shared a beautiful experience he had with his wife. One evening, they came home from a seminar and she had just had a powerful awakening. She turned to him and said ‘I don’t need you anymore!’ For him, he said, this was the greatest declaration of love she could have made him, and he was so happy to hear it. We so often confuse need and emotional fear with love, when need is the very thing that can turn love into dependency. Furthermore, Adyashanti said that sometimes, when he’s on retreats, he can go for days without even thinking of his wife. But when he sees her again, it’s a totally different story because then he’s there – present with her. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her, it just means that he is present in the moment, and that love has nothing to do with need. It just is.
As Rumi says, there is no separation. ‘Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such things as separation.’