Relationship As A Spiritual Path
Dr Thanh-Tam Pham - 11/10/2020
A relationship can be an exciting path of discovery of the unknown. When you both met, there is a strong magnetic physical attraction that can be described as magical but in reality the majority of relationships will fail in time.
Every person comes into our life for a particular reason or for a special purpose. Some will teach us love, some will teach us how to feel pain, how to be strong and recover…If we ignore all the negative signs and try to make it into a long lasting relationship than it is meant to be, sooner or later we will be disappointed.
There is a belief in our culture that we cannot be whole until we find our other half. We heard it in almost every fairy tale and it is drummed into us by our parents, family, friends and society. There must be something wrong with people who are unmarried or are unable to find a partner. From my experience as a general practitioner meeting with patients, relationships can be the deepest sources of regret, disappointment and depression in life. The truth is, no wholeness can ever be found outside of ourselves and it is impossible to search for someone to complete us by entering a relationship.
Very few people, it they are honest to admit, are completely happy and fulfilled in their long term relationships. So why, we must walk blindly into the trap of relationships like our parents and their parents before them? Is there another way?
There is another way but it requires a complete reset of the intentions and the thinking to achieve a fulfilling partnership: a relationship as a spiritual path.
Spirituality emphasizes the importance of the mental aspect of life over the material or sensual factors. It provides an inner path of self discovery, of developing a sense of peace and purpose, and beliefs of the meaning of life and the connection with others and with the cosmic universe or the divine. Spiritual people have positive relationships, high self esteem and moral characters such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, responsibility and harmony with others.
There are some principles that we have to practice in our spiritual relationship:
We must have a complete faith in our partner. It is difficult to surrender our well being and self worth to another person and conquer our fear of rejection. We have to abandon the idea of controlling the relationship as when we are afraid of losing our “self” and become defensive, we end up hurting our partnership.
2- Truth and trust:
With faith, we gain the courage to speak the truth, to be honest even though we may make a mistake and may face the displeasure from our partner. By expressing our vulnerability, we invite the other person to be vulnerable as well. Any communication needs to be honest and truthful and we try to avoid attempts to please and manipulate our partner for our gain. We have to openly communicate our feelings such as feelings of hurt, anger or other emotions and do not assume that our partner can read our mind. This is the cornerstone of an honest relationship based on mutual caring, respect and love. This also builds the trust between partners and it strengthens our spiritual power, resiliency and autonomy.
3- Compassion and unconditioned love:
Everyone has good and bad personality and behaviour including ourselves. Acceptance is essential for a satisfying relationship. We cannot enter a relationship with the idea of changing the thinking, the beliefs and the behaviour of our partner. For a successful relationship, it requires we surrender the demands of our ego for the partner to live up to our unrealistic, unforgiving demands and expectations. We have to develop compassion to ourselves and to our partner so we can listen without judgment and without taking our partner’s thoughts and feelings so personally so we can come to a deeper level of understanding and acceptance. We have to stop clinging to the expectations and ideas about how our partner should be. Anxiety and the need for defensive behaviour that cause problems in relationship gradually disappear. As trust in each other grows, the relationship provides
greater freedom and spiritual meaning and forms the basis for the unconditioned love to develop.
We have to practice mindfulness and to be aware moment by moment of our thought and behaviour so we do not let our anger and negative thought s affecting our partnership. Another most important thing that a lot of people do not appreciate, is the need to practice to be aware of the feelings of our partner. We have to try to put ourselves in our partner’s shoes and think about how we would feel if someone acted that way to us. Our partner’s behaviour, words can teach us a lot about ourselves. Our partner often sees our “blind spots” and can reveal to us about ourselves even unintentionally about our shortcomings. Remember that our partner can teach us important lessons to help us to grow spiritually.
By holding on grudges from past hurts, we will feel more distant and isolated from our partner. Let go of the past grievances and open our heart to forgiveness. We may need to openly communicate how we feel in a respectful and nice way to seek closure.
Can a relationship survive when one partner is not spiritual?
Sometimes people are stranded in a relationship trapped as a victim or a perpetrator. We can consider that relationship as a “school of life” and our partner as a teacher in disguise. When we first met, we thought that the love was intense and will stand the test of time. When we fast forward three, five, ten or more years and both feel tired and burdened and sometimes we stay together just for the sake of the children. The spark in the relationship has dimmed especially if it was based mainly on sexual and physical attraction and we are struggling to find a sense of connection with our partner.
In that case, if we want to stay together, we have to practice more on being mindful of our emotions and feelings to avoid from being angry and hurtful toward our partner. We need to practice empathy and compassion to be able to deal with the conflicts that arise from the relationship. If we are good in our practice, our partner becomes a valuable teacher to teach us on letting go of the anger, greed and ignorance to achieve a happy spiritual life. May be with our compassionate behaviour, our partner can change and become more understanding and in that way improvement can be made in the relationship. But if the relationship is too toxic, we can choose to move out without feeling guilty.
A spiritual relationship is when the two persons experience harmony, understanding and peace. Every action must come deep within the heart. This relationship can be compared to having a Soul mate.
It is rare and we are lucky if we can meet a soul mate in this life. A soul connection is when two people feel they are linked at a soul level in an extraordinary way. We might feel that we have known each other in the past life or that our souls agreed before this life to meet up now. We may feel that the link is so strong and transcends this earthy life and we are designed to support each other emotionally and professionally to accomplish what our souls planned to do here in this earth.
According to Dr Brian Weiss M.D, psychiatrist and past life regression expert, two souls could agree to reincarnate and navigate towards each other after spending 1000 years apart. This is quite a romantic phenomenon and it demonstrates the strength of such a spiritual connection that transcends space and time.
Karmic soul mates.
We create Karma with other people all the time through social interactions. Every interaction with another person creates energy that can turn into Karma that can be positive or negative. Karmic soul mates can come in our life to teach us lessons that we were unable to grasp in our previous life, change us to resolve the Karma from a past life and then leave when the job is done. Karmic relationships are not meant to be easy. No matter how hard we try, these relationships are not meant to work out.
Life will take us through many twists and turns and we can have failed relationships but the purpose of the relationship or the life lesson will always succeed whether we want it or not. The lesson here is to be strong enough to let go and move on when the time comes.
When relationships are unbalanced, when one partner try to control the money , the time and the whereabouts of the other partner or one partner’s extended family always take priority, the tie between two partners are severed beyond repair. Or when we demand things of our partner without consideration to the partner’s wishes or we berate our partner of not meeting our standards or expectations, or we ignore our partner’s expressed needs, the relationship has to be fractured.
In summary, a spiritual connection is basically a deep closeness felt between two people beyond the superficial personality traits, likes, dislikes or shared interests. A spiritual connection is about sharing the same fundamental values, beliefs, life goals and dreams. Two people who share a spiritual connection will meet each other on the same wavelength and could be able to share everything with each other.