In your most important relationships, you search for love and acceptance, although you may find that this is not easy to attain. Everyone has an unloving side; everyone has their own stubborn way of doing things. You bring mixed feelings into your interactions with everyone else, this is simply the reality. Finding love and acceptance can turn into a difficult challenge.
It would seem, then, that rising a step higher and achieving a spiritual relationship is even more challenging. The things that people look for in a spiritual relationship used to be fulfilled, not by someone else, but by God alone. God grants such things as grace, forgiveness, unconditional love, pure ecstasy, redemption, and salvation. Can you really expect anything like this from the person who sits across from you at breakfast?
Yet today there are millions of people who are on the spiritual path, and it is only natural that they wish to travel it with someone else—usually a spouse, partner, close friend or family member. Let me discuss this aspiration and what it involves. Then a realistic judgment can be made about how to relate spiritually to someone whose positive and negative traits are compatible and accommodating to your own.
The Ego and Egoless Levels of Relationships
In everyday life, relationships are based on the individual ego, the “I” with its stream of demands, likes and dislikes, personal memories and conditioning, etc. The ego personality is based upon self-interest. It wants more pleasure and less pain. It wants its own way, not someone else’s. It craves satisfaction through appetite, power, status, and achievement. Seeing the “I” and its agenda, you need to recognize that the ego personality is not the right vehicle for achieving a spiritual relationship.
Fortunately, there is another level of relationship that is egoless. You experience it twice in your life— usually, first when you were a very young child, and second when you relate to your own young children. In this relationship, you suspend the demands of self-interest. You experience a range of things unknown to the ego, such as innocent delight, selfless love, trust, intimacy, a desire to cherish the other, and pure joy in someone else’s existence. Two beings merge in complete acceptance of each other.
Can these qualities emerge in a relationship between two adults? It would involve voluntarily leaving your ego at the door, which may seem impossible. There are moments in a loving relationship where egoless experiences occur, of course. Spiritual qualities like trust, intimacy, and the desire to cherish another person are part of how you relate in private with those you love as opposed to how you relate to the outside, public world. But inevitably the ego enters in. “My way” leads to a clash with “your way,” and somebody has to give, which builds up tension, stress, arguments, and resentment over time.
So the real question is how to live without this split between selfish and selfless. Everyday relationships must contain an element of the selfish; spiritual relationships are as selfless as your relationship with a young child—that’s the ideal, at least.
A Spiritual Relationships Starts with You
The path to a spiritual relationship depends on one thing that may come as a surprise. The other person is irrelevant. Everything depends upon you because how you relate to yourself determines how spiritual you are toward others. Go back to the pure love and innocent delight you find with children. Nothing is expected of them. It is enough that a child exists; you place no demands on them to give you what you want. Therefore, no ego agenda is involved. Now, look at yourself. Do you accept and love yourself simply because you exist?
I am not looking for a yes or no. Everyone experiences moments where being here is enough. You feel inner peace, contentment, and acceptance without even thinking about it. Where does this selfless state arise? Oddly enough, in deep sleep. When the mind’s restless activity and the ego’s ceaseless agenda are suspended at night, what remains is pure consciousness.
You will likely be skeptical about that assertion because deep sleep is without personal experience. Yet you wake up refreshed and renewed, and traces of sleep’s peace and contentment linger in the morning if you had a good night’s sleep. I bring this up in order to point out that everyone has journeyed to the selfless state of pure consciousness many, many times. The question is how to reach the same state of wholeness while awake.
Using Meditation to Access Pure Consciousness
This is where meditation comes in because you don’t fall asleep in meditation. Instead, you relate to yourself without an agenda. You go inside to meet the selfless state, which isn’t blank or empty. It is the meeting point where existence is enough and consciousness is enough. In meditation, as the practice matures, the ego’s agenda becomes more and more pointless. If I am enough in myself, I don’t have to make demands on anyone or anything else.
Once you relate to yourself without ego, it is natural and easy to relate to someone else in the same way. You invite the other person into your own fullness and fulfillment. It’s the very opposite of needing another person so that you won’t be lonely, isolated, weak, insecure, and so on. “You complete me” is a fantasy of the ego-personality. In truth, consciousness completes you—your very existence completes you.
That’s the vision that sustains you on the path of finding a spiritual relationship because, after decades of conditioning that place “I, me, and mine” front and center, it takes time to undo all the conditioning. The middle of the journey is filled with a mixture of selfish and selfless experiences. This keeps the path alive and active instead of static and boring. The selfish experiences expose the areas where you still need to wake up to your true nature. Eventually, however, you will prefer to relate to yourself in a simple, uncomplicated way that indicates your state of self-acceptance, and this opens the door to a true spiritual relationship, first with yourself, and then with anyone who wishes to share in the state of completeness.