Sunday 12 Feb 2017
The most important thing that we depend upon in our lives on this earth is our relationships. None of us is an island and even if we end up living life reclusively as a hermit or a monastic, this statement remains true. Our relationships give us a reflection of ourselves. As a baby and a child we are getting constant feedback from our parents and family. We learn how to fit in, how to survive in a world that can sometimes be unforgiving and scary. We are wired to learn and understand what we need to do to have our basic needs met. The individual conditioning we receive from our parents, families, schools, countries, and governments varies enormously. Then beyond this, the individual conditioning that we receive varies much more. This will depend on our race, our creed, whether we are a man or women, old or young, whether or not we are smart or dumb, attractive or ugly, even powerful or weak, all these variables reflect to set us up in our niche of life.
It is also instructive to notice that the resonances and structure of any given relationship strata’s into many layers. Whichever niche we may find ourselves in, we can also see that its foundations are invariably supported by our relationship back to the earth and then back into the Universe. Our lives in each moment arise dependent on what has been conditioned into us and they move into the future based how or what we do with the conditioning presented. There are always choices but these choices do depends on how deeply we can see into the conditioning. If we have no insight we will continue to grasp at the instinctual conditioning presented and basically continue on in the same way, but if we develop insight, we can choose to not to grasp at an instinctual pathway. Insight can allow us to move and change direction in order to rejig the conditioning that is being presented more skilfully. Humanity does have this wonderful ability to self-reflect.
Self-reflection is generally something that happens in the present moment. This is a space where past and future can be set aside. When someone is present it is usually a signal that the person is aware of themselves and what is happening in that moment. Instead of being involved in their experience externally, so to speak, lost in the feelings and reactions of any given situation, they have created enough space and stillness in their mind to allow a reflection before the instincts take over. There is enough time and space in place to enable a choice in the reaction. When that space is not present things can be said and done that are not so skilful. When an unskilful behaviour happens it can lead to trouble with perhaps guilt and anger toward our self or maybe ill will to the other party. Either way it makes us unhappy. It can lead to racing thoughts of anxiety when there is a flow on to the future, or conversely a depression if there is regret from the past. It is all recorded in our consciousness for replay. The ability to develop space and stillness of mind is a truly wonderful practice that sets our lives up for good results in our relationships. It is a recipe for happiness and freedom. It opens the door to our jail!
My wife has just sent me an Email with a link to a TED talk. A man and a woman are discussing how they have come together in forgiveness after years of anguish for them both. They are courageously revealing and reconciling an event that happened when they were young. This Australian man was an exchange student in Iceland and he raped this lady back then after she had become his girlfriend. It is a story that I am sure will resonate strongly with both men and woman. It dramatically shows how blind, conditioned, instinctual behaviour can damage us and remain unresolved in our consciousness until it is released. It also shows the power, truth and freedom people can bring into their lives when there is space given over to explore such things in the space of forgiveness.
The TED talk can be seen by clicking the YouTube button here:
As a Buddhist Marriage Celebrant since 1986, I have been privy to witness hundreds of men and women coming together in marriage. It is always an exciting, happy and beautiful occasion. There is however a certain mystery involved in the whole process when you see how certain the couples are in wanting to be together. How do they know they have found the one? In my last blog I spoke of consciousness connecting after it has responded to metaphorical/real antennae that waves and signals it requirements. Borrowing a term I had heard from the science of lightning strikes, I called these antennae “ticklers”, and a deficit or a requirement in someone’s consciousness can be fulfilled when we respond to the ticklers to share a relationship. When the mutual benefit is there, there is an attraction. The chemistry is right and the certainty follows. It is a mysterious thing but a beautiful and happy circumstance to be involved with.
Happily for me, my couples are generally very self-aware and are ready for the end of the honeymoon period and are able to settle into beautiful marriages where each partner can help the other grow. I have this vision of them holding each other and their families in this safe container of marriage, so that each partner can explore the reflections at the edges of their learning envelope in safety and love and go deep into the present moment to develop and understand truth. It is beautiful to see couples doing this for each other. It is also a wonderful conditioning for any children of that family to see. The wider community also benefits. Personally I believe in marriage as a positive thing in men and women’s lives, but do recognise it does not work for everyone.
Sometimes our conditioning takes us on another pathway that may make it difficult for couples to stay together or even consider marriage. Their positive relationship reflections may end and then reset in different forms. Learning may come from good friends, family, or unconventional relationships --- even very meaningful relationships with pets and animals. A good relationship with nature is also very instructive. It remains true however; that where ever their conditioning takes them, the learning described above is still up for grabs when space in the moment is created. Witness the beauty in the relationship formed after the ugly event in Iceland! Both parties have obviously benefitted, their families and friends will have become wiser and now the wider world, that includes us, all are beneficiaries.
Whichever way we receive reflection from the good skilful relationship’s we form, it can help us develop a trusting and loving relationship with our self. When space is there in the present moment we have an opportunity to see the fears we might have, and the tensions that fear creates. The space naturally allows for these tensions to unravel and relax. It is a virtuous beneficial circle, because as the mind relaxes, the stillness and space that we are creating comes more to the fore. This causes the tensions to unravel more and relaxation becomes even more apparent. The fears dissipate. This allows the mind to be more available, to be spontaneous and creative. We are not trying to force a change in ourselves, just letting go and relaxing to allow the stillness to be present. When this happens the stores of wise experience we have can be skilfully accessed without tension. Opening up in this way develops our confidence along with self-esteem. Everything starts to flow naturally and in the right context. This in turn allows us to see more deeply into the truth that is always present in the moment. This is where we start to see and understand the relationship we have with the earth and beyond into the universe. It shows us the consciousness that is present in the world and how it connects us to everything and everyone. It is the pathway to enlightenment.