The True Purpose of Relationships

The Art of Meditation: Personal Development and Spiritual Growth:

Your relationship is not there to make you happy. It is not there to satisfy your needs. It is not there to help you escape your loneliness. Its purpose is not for you to procreate, although you might. It is not there to provide you with a tax break, although you should take that. It is certainly not there for you to exploit, by exerting power and control over the other. It is not there to hold together the so called moral fiber of society. It is not there because God mandates it. It is not there for divine male and divine female to merge through you and your partner. It is not there to play with Kundalini, although can be used for that. It is there as the mirror in which to see yourself clearly. That’s it.

Relationships

Let me tell you a story. In a land far away a beautiful princess was about to get married to her dream man. She had been told he was the perfect man. Full of love, compassion, strength and intelligence – and of course handsome as hell. She was so happy. The wedding day came and went, the whole kingdom celebrated and all was well. The morning after an equally wonderful wedding night, the princess brought her new husband tea and biscuits in bed. He smiled, ate, drank, told her how deeply he loved her and then slapped her flush across the cheek. They had not lied, he was strong and the princess was knocked to the floor by the force of the blow. She was dazed, in pain but mostly just in shock. What was more surprising was the shock on the husband’s face. He was even more bewildered.

The husband convinced the princess that he was just as taken aback by what happened and was genuinely sorry. His kind eyes and sincere tone clearly indicated to her that he was telling the truth so she forgave him and they moved on. Some years passed and soon both forgot the ugly event, until one day just as suddenly it happened again…. Whack! Then, soon after it reared its ugly head again…. Whack! Now it was too much for both to take and so they decided to seek counsel. Being royalty, all the best medics were summoned and consulted. Various theories were postulated and several cures were tried. Calming oils, exotic herbs, exorcisms, but every so often… Whack! It would happen again.

Desperate, they finally went to see a mysterious sage who lived high up in the mountains and was reputed as the wisest medic in the land, but one who would rarely accept an audience. After a long, hard journey they finally arrived at the sage’s cave. He was sitting on a rock outside in deep meditation so they waited patiently. Several hours later the sage opened his eyes and noticed the couple and much to their relief agreed to speak to them. He led them inside and then heard about the problem. At the end of the narration he asked to see the husband’s hands and closely inspected his palms. Once done with the husband he surprisingly asked to see the princess’s hand and carefully began to check her pulse. Finally he looked up smiling and said, “I will tell you what is happening here, but in exchange you must not refuse me what I ask.” Anxious to have this mystery finally solved they both agreed.

“Well, my dearies”, said the sage still smiling and looking at the husband said, “You sir are a great, healer. Your hands contain great power and you my dear princess have a terrible disease that keeps re-occurring every so often. By slapping you he has been curing you of this affliction time and again. If it had not been for those slaps, you would have long perished by now.” What relief they both felt. Overwhelmed by what they heard they fell to the feet of the sage and tearfully thanked him. As for the payment, well the husband wound up and laid one directly on the sage…. Whack!

What is the point of this story? Relationship produces pain for you so that you may awaken to what needs to be worked on within yourself.  In the case of the princess she was lucky as the pain was benefiting her without her knowledge, but in most of our cases we need to utilize the suffering caused by the relationship to inspect closely the disease of our attachments. The pain, upset, discomfort caused in the relationship helps to reveal the attachments we have and the inner working of our minds. It could be as simple as feeling bad for not being complimented on a new dress or as complex as getting upset with your partner for giving away too much to charity. All the upsets, big and small, simple and complex have their roots in our attachments. The attachments could be to security, money, sex, power, prestige, name, fame, religion, children, family, country, comfort, food, etc. It does not matter, our relationships, specially the intimate ones, will poignantly reveal them to us.

As long as we have these attachments, and they are strong within us, we live in fear and misery. Afraid of not getting that which we want, afraid of loosing it if we have it and fearful of those on whom we depend on for their fulfillment. Any relationship upon which you depend for your personal gratification and security will eventually lead you to the mess of anger, control, possessiveness, jealousy, fear and hatred. This is relatively easy to see if we watch relationships in action. So measuring the strength of one’s relationship by the level of attachment is quite silly. In fact, life will not allow such relationships to endure and by producing a few storms she will eventually tear it down and force a new one to be built. On the other hand, when two self-sufficient people meet, adore each other and enjoy each other’s company we have the makings of something special.

Seeing the trouble that attachment brings and realizing that love and fear cannot coexist, what can be done? Change your attitude towards relationship pain. See it for what it really is, an opportunity for insight. Insight into the working of pleasure and its child – desire, or pain and its child – fear. The way of insight is through delicate observation. When any upset occurs watch closely how you react to it. Watch closely how the storm of thoughts start to take control. “I can’t believe he did this again, he does it every time, I have told him so many times before, he knows how important this is for me, he is so selfish and inconsiderate, I bet he would not treat his mother like this, why doesn’t he change, I am never going to speak to him again, … I am so right!” On and on thought takes over and one is caught in the chaos. This is childish and won’t help at all, and the worst part is that a golden opportunity is being wasted. An opportunity to observe the self in action and perceive the root cause of the attachment. Have you ever tried to observe the actual feeling, the physical reality of what is taking place without interfering and without getting carried away into all the mental threads? By doing so, you will allow the fact of what is happening, anger, jealousy, fear, etc. to reveal itself to you in its complete detail. This is to understand by direct perception and allow insight to blossom. This is the only approach that will root out and weaken attachment. Any other reaction on your part to suppress the feeling, or run away from it, or replace it with good feelings, or psychoanalyze it, etc, will simply leave the underlying causes intact only to have the outburst happen again when the time is ripe.

The princess had cancer, which was cured by life through her husband; life tries in the same way to cure the disease of attachment that we are afflicted with using our relationships. Observing carefully our internal reality, that is reflected in our relationships, is the beginning of meditation. And meditation alone brings freedom and self-sufficiency. Relationship provides the most useful opportunities for applying ourselves in this way, so be ready, prepared and poised the next time you get Whacked.

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90 replies
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  1. anna
    anna says:

    hi, I came to understanding that the partner is there to help you see your problems and work on them, my husband betrayed me, not once already, I’ve found out 2 times and maybe there more, I’ve been hurt terribly, bkz I try to be a good wife and supportive and we have 2 girls… I’ve learned that what got shattered were my hopes and believes that might not be neccecary true to someone else, and that I have to let it go and find the piece and love inside, and not to be looking for it in someone else. However.. from now on what should I do -be happy that my husband is fooling around? What is there to learn from an affair of your parnter? Its just keeps eating me from inside… I dont want it to affect our family and have kids growing up wothout their dad. So what should I understand from this and what to do next? Let him be the way he is and just accept that he will never be here with me for 100%?

    Reply
  2. Beginner
    Beginner says:

    I was always very fearful and defensive in my relationships, be it husband, friends or in-laws. My mother always used to tell me you should have people criticising you at every stage and step in your life, because that is the only way you can progress. I remember her words each time I am criticised although it is not as easy to control my emotions. But overtime, I realise this is the only absolute truth. Like Swami Vivekananda said “This world is a place you come to refine yourself”.
    I accidentally came across your site as I was searching for sites to control emotions and attachments by meditation and I think I am blessed.
    With deep reverence

    Reply
  3. Chris Phone
    Chris Phone says:

    I was a little confused as well by the concept of a mate simply being a mirror. I understand that you must see yourself in another, but is that it? I certainly think of my wife as more than that. Maybe I just don’t understand or am not “developed” yet?

    Reply
  4. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Melania,

    Thank you for such deep, kind thoughts and wonderful insights.

    By observation I am indicating a third person view whereby to see that which is underway within due to the relationship pain. So this is actually not a self oriented practice, it is actually a non-dual or dispassionate practice. Like the non-egotistical part of the mind watching the ego in action. So in this case, you are actually building the non-ego so to speak.

    This observation applies to all situations and all kinds of pain.

    Forgiveness though is absolutely a part of this practice. It too applies to all situations and all kinds of pain. From the view of just Observation, forgiveness is implied unconditionally even prior to the pain taking place, is it not? In other words, since one is not going to react to the pain in the typical hostile way, forgiveness is already granted. But having said that, an outward expression of forgiveness will sure make the other feel nice :-).

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  5. melania
    melania says:

    “Relationship produces pain for you so that you may awaken to what needs to be worked on within yourself.
    I want to ask you if you think this “law” applies only to events and facts that trigger negative feelings in us like jealousy and fear and lack of trust. Or do you think it applies to all situations. What about when this happens to persons who experience and practice true love, compassion, prayer, meditation, kindness, persons, who try to live a more spiritual-oriented life and by living like this in time they get more distant from “anger, control, possessiveness, jealousy, fear and hatred.” What if someone betrays you as and fails in recognizing you as a whole ands unique human person?
    What if a friend really betrays you? Isn’t this a situation when forgiveness rather than self oriented thoughts/analysis/recognition is necessary? Maybe, at certain points in life we have to deal with situations when we are not the central character when they make it so that it has nothing to do with us anymore. I personally have only really suffered from these kind of situations, though I try to embrace it and move on with it.
    Anyway thanks for the article, it has been of great help for understanding all other past situations.

    Reply
  6. Mandaravan
    Mandaravan says:

    Namaste Anmol,
    Thanks for your kind words. It is worth saying, although I believe you are now understanding this better, that the parables we use to teach are better if
    1. they do not have distracting or even counter-productive elements;
    2. the closer, more true, more ‘apt’, the analogy, the more clear the transmission to the receiver.

    Since during current times, confusion, lack of clarity, and inability to discern, are so rampant, it is crucial that teachers not inject further confusion, and present a model for clear thinking to others. As we reach toward a global awakening, aligning more deeply for clarity is crucial. So i appreciate your willingness to rethink a story which might have embedded damaging messages, cross-cultural confusion, or give anyone an excuse to engage in behavior without integrity based on a ‘he did it in that spiritual story’.

    I’m very pleased to see you reacting with integrity, i know it is not always to easy! Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hey KL,

    :-D

    Very well put.

    Although I am comfortable with the slightly controversial ;-) and shock mechanism I used to make this story a captivating read, due to certain polarizations it can distract from the very important points the article is trying to make with regard to the purpose and value of relationships (which of course have nothing to do with the mechanism). Perhaps I need to write another without the fireworks :-D.

    In any case, without a doubt, understanding and living this article’s teachings with regard to relationships is very liberating.

    Thanks for stopping by and offering you insights.

    Cheers,
    Anmol

    Reply
  8. KL - Prana Flow Yoga
    KL - Prana Flow Yoga says:

    Hey Anmol,

    Something I’ve loved about this article (and I come back to it again and again), is watching the discussion unfold.

    It’s fascinating seeing the differences in how people perceive the message and what it says.

    It reminds me that what we think about a thing says far more about us that it ever does about the thing we’re thinking about.

    Blessings,
    KL

    Reply
  9. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    Hello Anmol!

    So you say that i`m … on the right way? That there is nothing bad in my words and my will of love? That is fantastic… I sensed myself buried under a mountain! And thought that my dream is to build a science lab and develop a new weapon… How i was wrong… and i`ve thought that is my true wish… but now i see how i “wish” that… I`m free… much more free than ever… my will, my wish is to love a girl… and somehow i think that i`ll find it soon… I will continue my SM meditation cource… that is the most fantastic thing ever… as well as my greatest dream – to love… I sense myself as light as wind… and happy on my way to find love… I sence that when i proceed more – yoga siddhis is becoming available to me! I sence some new powers… gonna test them with caution… And i want to say that i`ve experienced another energy blast or more exactly – kundalini energy rise, suddenly, but it was so powerful that now i can inderstand even why it is so dangerous! This is cool…. I`m going to advance in Yoga and meditations, and seeking love of my life…

    All the best!
    Andrew

    Reply
  10. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Love is finally what everything is all about, but love cannot coexist with fear. That is where the mirror of relationship comes in. It is where we can study the movement of fear, born of attachment, and thus move beyond it to the dimension of Love.

    You are on the right track and have the right energy to fulfill your aspirations.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  11. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Dear Mandaravan,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to present your thoughts. I guess the mechanism used in the story to indicate the pain of relationship is hard for some to just view symbolically. It can be replaced by anything you like, the purpose here is to view relationship pain in a different light that is all.

    Love, Light & All Good Wishes for you,
    Anmol

    Reply
  12. Mandaravan
    Mandaravan says:

    Wow, Anmol, this story is TERRIBLE. You are really confusing me. On the one hand you seem to have some true wisdom, on the other..this story about the princess and the king is not acceptable by someone who is being treated as a guru – you must look deeper for wisdom than this!!

    Although i’m sure you would deny it, many men, especially Indian men, will take this as an excuse to hit their women: “oh, i’m curing you, think of that story Anmol told”. But the REALITY in that story is, the MAN has the problem: subconscious, unexplained anger, exerted *without cause* on his wife. SHE is the mirror of purity and good faith in which HE should be seeing his true self in, and how causeless his actions are. You should be advising to look at the true reflection, not for people to look for ‘some other reason’ than one’s own responsibility.

    No cancer is cured by a slap, and the fact that so many built-in cultural assumptions are present (like there is ANY excuse for powerfully slapping your wife) – should warn you to look deeper at this story. The wife, yes, could learn from the pain – whether she wishes to be with such an unconscious and ‘accidentally’ violent man, or choose to take on blame for something that is not at all her fault. The man’s pain of relationship should come from such a wonderful wife leaving him, because he is neither appreciative not conscious/enlightened enough to deserve her. Your story should be illustrating the pain the husband gets, for not striving to reach a higher level of awareness. I am shocked you can be so confused. As you know, the karma of confusing others this way is not beneficial.

    You really blew it on this one. If you reverse the roles you will see this would not turn out the same – a wife would be beaten in India for slapping her husband and told to cease it all costs, or be further punished. She would not be told that she was ‘curing’ her husband! As you well know.

    The husband here should look at his own flaws, his own karmic lessons, his own ego and lack of control. He is responsible for his own actions and they should be honorable and compassionate, not excuse-seeking or willing to blame others’ “need” to be slapped!

    Very disappointed in you. I will be interested to see if you can take these constructive comments (look how many people you have confused by a story which lacks fundamental clarity around personal responsibility!!) and deepen your own understanding. It is truly needed in someone that others are looking to for guidance.

    Namaste of course.

    Reply
  13. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    Hello Anmol!
    I have a question – why this is so tough called – a mirror? You mean that if i love a girl, she must be a mirror to me and nothing more? Sorry, but i want to love, after some SM meditation, i`ve realised that love is that i`m truly will! I will love, no one gonna stop me from that, i want to be happy with the girl i love, not just beacause it is a mirror? Is all yoga is so brutal? Why this is called attachement? I`m studying martial arts to protect the women i love, and i wish to love, this is my most clear, most strong and most pure wish… Or i simply do not understand the article?

    Reply
  14. Anmol Mehta
    Anmol Mehta says:

    Hi Glaya,

    The pain of transformation, is the psychological suffering related to the sense of self or ego. The tool I use to determine “should I stay or should I go now”, has to do with if it is beneficial or not to my spiritual practice and growth. So in general, does it help or hurt you with your true love or passion in life.

    I know it’s a tough situation, but the important point is to realize that leaving or staying is far less important than witnessing and learning.

    Best,
    Anmol

    Reply
  15. Galya
    Galya says:

    In the “If the Buddha Dated” Charlotte Kasl also talks about pain in relationships and how it is there for a reason – to help us learn about ourselves. But the pain she talks about is “one of transformation, not third degree burns”. I wonder, how can you be sure which one you are experiencing? When is it time to forge ahead through pain, and when is it time to get yourself out of the fire? Or does my question not have a definite answer? I’ve heard of “just listen to your heart” and “think about things carefully” – I guess this battle between the heart and the mind is never-ending. I wish one would win already.

    Reply
  16. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    Hello Anmol! I`ve just read all this and i`ve revealed much of my internal fear and saw the cause of it. But i do not completely understand it? If relationship is a mirror? We just see our own weakness? I must battle it? I really want to know that, and what target is pursued in the relationship? is there any harm?

    Reply
  17. yajni
    yajni says:

    hi anmol
    how did you get to be so ” knowledgeable” many thanks for your amazing insight into all things that seem so difficult – regards yajni

    Reply

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