Welcome to this ongoing column on awakened relationship. I am very excited to share my experience and insights about being awake together in relationship. I am also looking forward to hearing your experience. I hope that we can all engage in a dialogue about this topic, which is an important one for all human beings. I encourage you to post comments, and by doing so, enjoy more awakened relating right here, in community.
Awakened relationship is a topic of great interest to me, one that I have explored extensively for the past twenty years through my work as a psychotherapist as well as through being in a committed, intimate partnership for twenty-two years. For the past two decades, I have also been immersed in nondual teachings. These teachings have deeply informed my experience and understanding of relationship.
I would like to begin this column by defining what I mean by awakened relationship. Actually, I prefer the term “relating” to relationship because relating is dynamic and actual. Relating implies the present moment ongoing-ness of what occurs whereas “relationship” is an abstract reification of a process that has never actually been a “thing.” Therefore, the term relating more easily allows for a discussion from the perspective of nondual wisdom.
I will start by distinguishing awakened relating from “conscious relationship.” The idea of conscious relationship has been around for at least twenty years. This brought about a new level of relating. Intimate partners became “mindful” of their behavior and began looking at their conditioned patterns and aking responsibility for them. What had previously been unconscious and projected on the other was now becoming conscious. Yet it is possible to have a conscious relationship without being awakened to our true nature. Also, a conscious relationship may still be believed to be between two separate individuals—more conscious, but still two. In addition, conscious relationship has mostly been a bout changing and fixing all the patterns we became conscious of, which keeps them reified and appearing real.
Now is the time for relationship to take another step in its evolution into awakened relating. Relating becomes “awakened” when one or both in a partnership have awakened to their true nature. When awakened nondual awareness or being is on board in relationship, that changes everything. Not only is it possible to become more conscious of our conditioned patterns that interfere with harmonious relating, but also it is possible to truly allow them to be as they are. No longer is the focus on changing or fixing the conditioning or each other, but allowing it all arise and dissolve in the vastness of our true nature. This only becomes possible when there is direct experience with nondual being. The presence of our deeper nature provides the safety, wisdom, compassion, patience, love and detachment to make this possible. It is only through resting in being that we can allow the feelings, beliefs, project ions, etc. to arise and dissolve. As that is allowed, appropriate action or communication is spontaneous, obvious and inherently beneficial.
Awakened relating involves knowing through direct experience that the love we have sought in each other is what we most essentially are. It is an awakening to what is already whole and complete—that which lacks nothing, needs nothing and seeks nothing. To truly know that our partner is not the source of love gradually relaxes and dissolves all the ways we don’t allow ourselves and others to be exactly as they are, which is what true love is all about.
In my own experience, direct knowing of this truth has allowed me to let my partner be as he is, more and more through the years. When there is no need for him to be a certain way in order to get love, then he can be allowed to be as he is. And, when that does not happen because I begin to believe a story about him needing to be different in some way, that becomes obvious. I am fortunate to be in a partnership where both people are committed to embodying what is most true. Therefore, it just takes one of us reminding the other of what is true, and most often it is dropped right there. It becomes easy and effortless when there is a 100% commitment. Yet, it was not always that way! Embodying the truth of our being in intimate relationship is an evolutionary leap and challenge. I believe that it does take a 100% commitment. It must be the first priority, and our nondual nature must be rested in and relied on with whatever arises, no matter what. Challenges with this are what I am interested in writing and dialoguing about in this column.
I invite you to bring your own experience and questions so we can explore this together.