Spirituality & Relationships
Spiritual Views of Relationships
One of the most complex aspect of life is relationships and I have noticed that for those who are deeply spiritual, relationships, specially the long-term serious kind, pose additional challenges and issues. Questions such as, should I get married? Should I have children? Will a serious relationship be an obstacle to my obtaining Enlightenment? Should my partner by equally spiritual? Are just a few of the difficult issues that many spiritual aspirants often tussle with.
I am sometimes asked for advise on these issues and I wanted to share with you my response to such a question I received from a fellow aspirant. Although I don’t believe there is one right answer for everyone, my response looks to provide some models within which to view your relationships, and hopefully these models will help in giving you some perspectives with which to approach this complex topic.
Below is the question I was asked.
Question About Relationships for the Spiritually Inclined:
I just felt, it is very difficult at this point for me to relate with someone who has not at least had a glimpse of what is beyond ego and thereby entered the stream toward true freedom and Self-knowledge.
Do you have advice about whether I am on the right track in feeling that there must be an alignment of spiritual vision for a successful partnership? Or at least being somewhat similar stage of development?
I have divided my thoughts into 2 categories. Pure and Relative.
Pure View of Relationships:
For spiritual growth a successful relationship is not needed, only the mirror of relationship is needed. The survival of the relationship will, in this context, be determined by the needs of the practice. (I discussed this is detail in the article True Purpose of Relationships).
Another pure way to looking at the above is that relationships are a channel for the greater expression of life. Those that suit her purpose survive her tests. From this perspective, spiritually aligned relationships will undoubtedly be a powerful channel for life to express herself through and these will survive and flourish.
Relative View of Relationships:
To step out of the pure is asking for trouble, but, what is life without some danger, so here goes ;-).
As I indicated above, spiritual alignment will be very beneficial, but, I don’t think it is necessary. Here is a relative model which I think captures what I am trying to say.
If we think of ourselves as a crowd within, you can think of your partner as adding to the crowd with their various "selves". I think these various selves with their own demands can exist in three ways.
- If they have the same passion/vision they become a great team.
- If they have different passions I don’t think its a problem. One loves art, the other music. Ok no problem. Or from a spiritual perspective, one’s path is of Gyan Yoga (Intellectual) and the partner’s is of Bhakti Yoga (Devotion), I think it will work fine.
- If their passions/views create contradictions then we have a problem. As the waves now oppose each other and both parties are diminished.
So from the above I see relationships in category number 1 and number 2 capable of flourishing. Those in number 3 run into trouble for sure. I know that I am perhaps over simplifying, as relationships are complex and there are many facets to this discussion, but, I think the above gives a broad view under which to approach this topic.
Life is a movement in relationships and as I indicated in the pure view above, their real purpose is to provide a mirror in which you can observe and study the ego in action. From this perspective relationships are only important in that they are a means for self-study and are there to help you practice observation. From this view, they obviously take on a very different nature. The relative view I suggested, of course, gives us more to chew upon.
In that view, relationships can be seen as a combining of forces, whereby these forces align and give each other greater strength or they create contradictions and weaken each other. Here was my final conclusion based on this relative model, which I gave to the reader…
Now at a very personal level. You have experienced what is beyond and have great depth, I don’t think seeking a partner with the same level of experience or depth is necessary. I think a partner who does not contradict you and perhaps grows as a result of your steady abiding in the Truth, could provide for a wonderful relationship as well. So here I am saying that more than an equal, a person with the right inclination and goodness, who you really like, is enough to take a chance with.
Given the incredible variety and dimensions of human relationships I am sure there is a lot more to come on this topic. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts below, I am sure this subject is of interest to many.