Relationship Questions & Issues for the Spiritually Inclined

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?


My Response: 

 

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.

  1. If they have the same passion/vision they become a great team.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


Conclusions:

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.


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9 replies
  1. Sinnology
    Sinnology says:

    Hello friends.
    I am pretty much new in meditation scene but have a question which in some sort is connected with relationships.
    I came out of almost 3 years long relationship 4 months ago.
    It ended in pretty confusing way and I still have mental baggage of it.
    Now what I wanted to ask you what is the best case, to get rid of leftovers, nostalgic memories and wished to get back into it with that specific relationship for which I know is not healthy for me?
    Despite the fact of knowing that I just cannot allow myself to go on with my life peacefully and without day to day emotional storms.

    Best regards

    Reply
  2. Atul
    Atul says:

    Hello Anmol

    I liked your answers. I would like to give link of a topic about relations, which I hope will be useful.

    Relationships

    Thank you
    Atul

    Reply
  3. Mital Patel
    Mital Patel says:

    Thank your for this post Anmol! It’s funny how I came across this today, being that just yesterday I was contemplating this topic. I fall into the second category, where me and my wife have different passions, and our relationship works great! Mainly because, we are both full of passion and love and bless with the ability to live life freely.

    The funny thing is a little over a year ago, I didn’t want to get married, because I thought it may hinder my spiritual path and I was truly happy alone. I was and still am my best friend and I love my own company, therefore I saw no need to get married, I had no desire as I believed it would disturb my peace and hinder my spiritual progress. In that, it would be another attachment I would form in this world. Why would I create more attachment, when my purpose is to be completely detached?

    Where, when and how I got married, I still don’t know. It all happened so fast, so naturally, it’s really a thing of beauty. Rather than creating more attachment, I actually feel more freedom than ever through this relationship.

    I agree with you on our relationships acting as a mirror, I have learned so much about myself, I would never have realized without this relationship. I’ve learned things about myself through self-observation as well as through my wife.

    Relationships really help you grow! The ultimate destination on the spiritual path, for me, is a state of absolute love. I am grateful that I have someone to share that love with, as it grows within me.

    Namaste,

    Mital

    Reply
  4. Dig Deeper
    Dig Deeper says:

    Great post Anmol!

    I don’t know where to begin.

    The cool thing about waves is by nature they interact with other waves. Only particles collide or crash… but this leads us to the question, can you and your partner appreciate your experience in general (and your experience of one another, specifically) as wavelike? If so, this is already the beginning of dissolution of the ego, and in my experience this is enough.

    I can’t agree with the purist approach completely, I think there is much more available in a good relationship than just a mirror of ego. However, this is exactly how I view negative aspects of relationships of the past (she was just offering me a reflection of my own ego).

    Obviously, every relationship is unique, but I think your ‘relative’ view offers excellent ground rules to start with. If someone is adamantly against your path, then it might be interesting to discuss this with them, but it will usually be very problematic to be involved in a long-term relationship with them.

    Again in my experience, this is a function of acceptance (or non-judgment, equanimity, etc.). Partners with diverse views but enough acceptance to allow the other to be as they are, and grow as they like… they can be of great service to one another. Incredible insights can be mutually experienced.

    If one has truly seen past the ego, and is truly committed to transcendence, then any experience can serve that path. A painful and conflict filled relationship might be a quick path to enlightenment. But personally, I still like to enjoy my comforts… maybe that’s my ego speaking…;^)

    keep smiling,

    ben

    Reply
  5. isabella mori
    isabella mori says:

    many years ago, i asked my father about what makes a great relationship. he said, “be as similar as possible and as different as necessary.” this is great wisdom, i believe.

    i disagree with you re the contradiction. i wouldn’t want to be married to someone who doesn’t contradict me (and i am most decidedly not :) ). but maybe that’s not what you meant?

    really like what you’re saying about opposing waves, however – that makes total sense to me. there must be ebb and flow, not constant crashing.

    Reply
  6. Chris Cade | Spiritual Stories & Parables
    Chris Cade | Spiritual Stories & Parables says:

    On a topic like this, I couldn’t possibly know where to begin :)

    I would only serve to point out that the original question is ironic because one coming from a place of non-ego would never ask a question about whether their non-ego and ego counterparts can/should co-exist.

    Discussion of that irony alone gives rise to an entire article… or more likely an entire book. :)

    Reply

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