Love and the Ego Featured
Love... this word has been used (and misused) for so long, and people define it in so many different ways, including into the definition a wide range of emotions that includes anything from pleasure and bliss to pain and suffering.
I think it's interesting to look at how the same idea is expressed in different languages. I like referring to Sanskrit as it presents greater depth of meaning and precision. In Sanskrit there are three different words that we can translate as «love»: kama, prema and bhakti. Kama is love that is based on sexual attraction and lust, and associates with physical craving. Prema is conventional love, which is pure enough not to be counted as kama but yet not selfless to get to the next stage, it will involve emotional craving. Bhakti is the highest form of love, unconditional and infinite, and it is commonly linked to devotion and surrender to the Divine.
It's important to understand on what type/stage of love a relationship is being based. If we talk about kama, then obviously there is no way the ego can be out of the game. It's all about satisfying one's desire. In this type of relationship one can't find peace and contentment, the ego just won't let it happen.
In case of Prema, there is deep emotional connection, to the degree when one's heart sings «I can't live without you». However, it also operates from the ego platform. That «I can't live without you» usually is followed with «You can never leave me» or «Don't you dare treat me like this» (read «you must satisfy ME»). Even if one decides to be loving and compassionate, and to do all possible to serve her/his partner, it's often just a trick of the ego to get pumped up with «I’m so selfless, I'm so good», and it eventually (if not at once) will get followed by «and you... how could you...» (again, «you must satisfy ME»). This type of relationship also brings lots of suffering as the ego can never get enough, and nothing is permanent, all is bound to constant change and the final ending at one point.
Now, Bhakti... What is this unconditional love that can last forever? As the only thing that never dies is our Soul, Bhakti is love at the Soul level. To get THIS high, we must start seeing our partner as the Soul, the Divine Self, the Cosmic Consciousness (put any other name for the Highest Self to suit your cultural background and beliefs). If there was GOD (again, use any other word if this doesn't appeal) in front of you, would you make that negative remark, would you not find time to help out, wouldn't you serve him/her well?... I hope you got the point. Never expecting anything in return, yet giving the whole of your Self. Without holding back. Constantly. With devotion. With joy. Maybe then we can have an experience similar to Mother Teresa's who said once: « I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love».
I know we are all far from being saints, yet we can bring more Bhakti into the Prema relationship by learning to surrender our ego in devotion and humility (not humiliation), and treating our partner as a Divine Self (which he/she is anyway, as we all are!). A relationship is the best opportunity for self-development and spiritual growth. Take it!
The Way to a Happy Marriage Featured
Celebration time - it's been 7 years since I'm married! I am certainly not an expert on a man-woman relationship. After all, it's only 7 years. But somehow I feel that if we've made it through these 7 years of marriage, and came out even more in love and in tune with each other than before we tied the knot, maybe it’s worth sharing a few points with those who are in love and want to keep it up.
I have to admit that for the first years of our life together (which coincided with the first years of our marriage, as we jumped into it barely knowing each other) we constantly argued and fought our way to happiness. Now when I look back, I don't even understand how we survived through these intense times filled with blame, guilt, anger, grievance and hurt. But look at us now! People often think we are just dating, or have married recently. No one believes we've been together for so long. So what's the secret of keeping it gentle and perky?
Other than loving each other, it's primarily important to have determination to stay together, no matter what. I am lucky to have an example of my parents who are still together after 40 (!) years of their married life. So from childhood I've always thought I'll be married once and forever. If one enters marriage with the mood of trying it out, «to see if it works», the divorce is guaranteed. Every couple goes through many troubles and hard times, and that's where determination makes a huge difference.
Not less important than determination is our willingness to change, to constantly work on ourselves. And this starts with learning about yourself through your loved one. That’s why we come together, I believe, a life after life, we use our partner as a mirror that perfectly (and permanently!) reflects all we have to show. And if we might know of our pleasant sides, or love to find more of them at any time, we commonly find it difficult to accept our shortcomings, especially when this awareness comes through someone who is so dear to us. However, the moment we get closed for self-improvement, we jeopardise our marriage. Accept where you are, and do your best to become a better husband/wife.
The rest is just common sense but many of us are far from doing it. (Excuse me writing only about the way you should treat HIM, it works the same way in relation to HER (in case you are a man and reading it))
- Try to please you loved one! Don't you love him? If the answer is yes, the truth is – you can only be happy when he is happy. So make him happy, it equals to making yourself happy!
- Don't expect him to make you happy. In fact, just don't expect anything. Period. When there are expectations, there are disappointments. Wouldn't you rather be surprised with something nice, than expect it and didn't get it?
- Find joy in your family responsibilities. Transform it into your love meditation in action. May everything you do for your partner remind you of your mutual love. Serving him equals making him happy, which equals...? If you didn’t get the answer, look at point 1.
- Make him your best friend. Trust is crucial in any relationship, especially in such intimate one as with your life partner. Talk about what matters to you (any thoughts, desires, dreams) and ask your partner advice on all you do. Also listen closely when your partner shares with you his heart, and never betray him by talking about it with others (unless he advised otherwise).
- Never complain about your loved one to anyone except those people who can help to see the solution. Judging your loved one behind his back never brought anyone happiness. Instead why not try and see positive things in your relationship? Then talk about those things and make them bloom!
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: «Loving is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction». Dream your future together, make time (and mood) to talk about things that make you both thrive so you can choose and agree on direction that you are moving towards.
I didn't realize I've got so many points, and I could have continued:) But that's all for now.
Well, just one more point – if at any time you've got a desire to do something opposite to recommended above, please stop and ask yourself: Is at this moment the amount of ego in me is overpowering the amount of love?
That's what love is all about. Loving someone as yourself. Or even more! To be able to truly love (yourself or someone else), you must put aside your ego. (How to? that's a long topic for another post). But dealing with the ego is absolutely essential to finding your true self and your true love which lasts «happily ever after».