Relationships: The Path to Love through Suffering and Surrender
To get us started on the journey of relationship, Oriah Mountain Dreamer introduces us to the essential practice of being loyal principally to ourselves, the practice that will enable and empower us to love ourselves and through that, love another: "I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul... if you can be with failure, yours and mine... I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away." C G Jung takes us a little further, away from control and manipulation, towards surrender: "Where love reigns, there is no will to power; and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking. The one is but the shadow of the other." He goes on to inform us of the necessity of suffering: "Seldom or never does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises. There is no birth of consciousness without pain."
We emerge out of our early conditioning and formative relationships hidden and protected beneath the character which covers our true self. The deep inner yearning we experience for contact and connection is projected outwards onto the world and the people in it. We are not able to differentiate between ourselves and it, even though our imminent maturity demands our independence and autonomy. We remain dependent and refer outside ourselves for what we should do. We feel lost, but we are not really lost in an outward sense; we have 'lost' or forsaken our true self, and we have forgotten how we did it. It seems our salvation is in defensive/aggressive behavior, ambition, image, worldly and external concerns and, of course, relationship.
Relationship defines us and whoever we are in relationship with, unknowingly, carries the responsibility for completing and defining us, as a substitute for us making ourselves whole. No one else can do this but we are unaware as yet. We fall into jealousy, rage, uncontrollable passion, guilt, forbidden desire, envy, distrust, blaming, revenge, betrayal - all reflecting the nightmare of our predicament.
My relationships with others tell me about myself. How someone I am in relationship with treats me reflects how I feel I should be treated and how I feel about myself deep down inside.
Nothing will change until we learn to love ourselves. All our relationships with others will refer us back to this need until we are ready to do the work of giving acceptance, forgiveness and compassion to ourselves. All love between people begins with self-love and from this basis we can straighten out all our other relationships - with our life partner, our peers, our groups, our employers, our parents and with the divine.
The process of relationship reveals the true nature of love through awareness, acceptance and authenticity. First, we become deeply intimate with ourselves by deep inner knowledge of our true nature. Second, we extend our feeling and engagement to another in compassion and empathy. Finally, we experience the other as ourselves, separate but undifferentiated, together and alone, the fruits of relationship grow on the tree of genuine affection.
The path of relationship leads us through self-selection, profound significance and self-consciousness into dawning intimacy. Along the way we encounter fear, need, desire, lack and empowerment; we experience vulnerability and dependence. We work with the dynamics of closeness and distance, personal boundaries and attachment, projections, merging and separateness. To deal with the confusion and bewilderment of all these complex processes we require wise practices, awareness and deep acceptance of self and other.