Our happiness and wellbeing are all dependent on the quality of our relationships. Dynamic and harmonious relationships bring us joy, success and radiant health, toxic relationships are the pathway to sadness, frustration and suffering.
The Mind and Body
How’s your relationship with your own mind and body, the vehicle you have chosen to carry your soul on its spiritual journey? Take a moment to think of all the relationships going on within your body right now. The cells sending messages back and forth, everything flowing harmoniously. How amazing is it? Can you love your body with all its bumps and wrinkles? When it falls ill do you still love it or do you grumble and complain? Listening is an important part of any relationship. How often do you listen to your body’s signals of comfort or discomfort. These can warn you of approaching challenges or guide you when making decisions and discovering new opportunities.
If you have a good relationship with your mind it can be a great supporter, remembering important things and helping guide our journey. However, it can also create chaos, confusion and run wild, if you neglect your relationship. Make your choices consciously. The Vedas tell us that life is like a dream, where you have the lead role but are also the producer and director. You decide what happens. There’s a story of a man who was dreaming that he was being chased by a monster. No matter how hard he tried to escape, the monster kept following. Eventually he became exhausted and could run no further. Terrified he turned to face the monster. What are you going to do to me he asked? I don’t know replied the monster, it’s your dream.
Nurture your relationship with your body and mind. Let them support your spiritual journey, rather than creating obstacles. Pause, even if just for a minute, every day, to be grateful to them and appreciate them for all they do for you. The poet Hafiz wrote, “There are so many gifts my dear, still unopened from your birthday. O, there are so many hand-crafted presents that have been sent to your life from God”. As you grow and your relationship with your body-mind matures, stay alert, keep discovering and welcoming your Divine gifts.
The World Around You
How do you relate to other people and the world around you? Eric Butterworth said, “Happy relationships depend not on finding the right person but on being the right person.” From the point of view of karma, there is a reason for everyone we meet. Every relationship is a mirror, reflecting back whatever we project out, and therefore every relationship happens, to help us learn something about ourselves. Take a moment to ask yourself, what are the qualities that attract you to other people? Now do the reverse and ask what are the qualities cause you to avoid some people? If you mix all those qualities together, you are looking at yourself. The qualities you admire are those you want more of so, instead of running after other people for them, start developing them in your own life. And, the qualities you dislike are the ones you are denying that you have. When you accept them in yourself, you’ll be a lot more accepting in your relationships.
Deepak Chopra has suggested using the four “A’s” as a means for establishing good relationships.
- Attention - everyone wants to be heard. Are you a good listener, or a good interrupter? Do you give others the attention they deserve?
- Affection - we all want to be loved. Are you able to connect emotionally with those around you? Can you express your feelings?
- Appreciation - we want to be noticed for our talents and accomplishments. Do you give credit where credit is due? How often do you say thank you?
- Acceptance - we each want to be accepted for who we are. How judgmental are you? Can you accept that everyone is doing the best they can?
Every person we meet is like a new world waiting to be explored. As Mata Amritanandamayi tells us, “Be like the honeybee who only gathers nectar wherever it goes. Seek the goodness that is found in everyone.”
Just imagine our world if everyone loved it with an all embracing love, putting an end to conflicts, anger, greed. A world where everyone is treated equally, eliminating poverty, hunger, homelessness and war. Where we live in harmony with nature and the environment. The world we live in is a reflection of the collective consciousness of the people in the world. If we are surrounded by kind, loving people, we will live in a joyful, pure world. But it all starts with each one of us. As Phillips Brooks suggests, “Be such a person and live such a life that if everyone were as you and every life was such as yours, this earth would be God’s paradise.”
Your True Self
All relationships will eventually end, victims of time. Even your relationship with your individual soul, though having a shelf-life much greater than any worldly relationship, will ultimately end when you meet your True Self.
When the great exponent of Advaita, Ramana Maharshi was ask, “What about the others?” He replied, “There are no others.” Any relationship implies duality so the ultimate goal is to move beyond relationships to a state of Oneness with all. The Indian saint Anandamayi Ma told us, “It is duality which causes all sorrow and grief. Find the One everywhere and in everything and there will be an end to pain and suffering.” The One is that which connects everything in creation, the underlying field of pure consciousness to which we all belong. The Vedic tradition of India states that there is one Absolute which expresses itself as all the individual forms we see around us. While we can certainly enjoy all the aspects of our individuality, we need to recognize that they are all part of a greater universality.
This Oneness is our True Self, a field of unbounded joy and bliss playing as the universe. It disguises itself as the mind and body, and displays itself as the world and the environment, just for fun and entertainment. Unfortunately we’ve forgotten the fun and have become serious. We’ve lost our wholeness with the source of everything and, instead of fun, we’ve created a disconnected world of chaos and confusion.
The goal of our spiritual journey is to awaken from this darkness to light, from ignorance to bliss, from our self-created limitations to freedom and from fear to unbounded love.
All relationships, whether we judge them as good or bad, act as guides for growth if we are open to hear their messages. However, all external teachings ultimately lead us to remember that we are our own guru and all external relationships merge into one relationship, our Essential Self. By all means enjoy external relationships but know that true happiness is not found outside, we must look within. The merging of self into Self brings the relationship of Oneness with the Divine. Now we can add a fifth “A” , which arises spontaneously, adoration.