Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nonattachment in Relationships

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From The Joy Hidden in Sorrow, by Ayya Medhanandi:
Through knowing the transcendent, knowing the reality of things as they are – knowing the body as body – we come to the realization that we are ever-changing. We learn to rest in pure awareness and we touch that which is deathless.

In our relationships with each other, with our families, we can begin to use wisdom as our refuge. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love, that we don’t grieve for our loved ones. It means that we’re not dependent on our perceptions of our mother and father, children or close friends. We’re not dependent on them being who we think they are, we no longer believe that our happiness depends on their love for us, or their not leaving, not dying. We’re able to surrender to the rhythm of life and death, to the natural law, the Dhamma of birth, ageing, sickness, and death.
A little food for for thought this morning on attachment and relationships. This is kind of out of context for the whole article, but I liked what she was saying here. We must give up our attachment to people being what we want them to be, or who we want them to be. We will always be disappointed when the reality of the person does not match our expectation. We will be crushed when they leave or pass away.

When we love someone, or even simply know someone, is it not more honest and pure to simply allow the person to be whoever s/he is, and not to define the person by our expectations and needs?

If we can allow the person to be exactly who s/he is, without our colorings or shadings getting in the way, it seems we might then be able to truly love this other, and not simply love our version of who s/he is.

Getting to this place of freedom for ourselves and those we love requires practice, the giving up of illusions. We must see through our illusions to the essence of reality -- that we are all one, that self (both ours and theirs) simply vanishes when we try to find it. The insight is crucial.

Learning to live with that insight is the true work. We must navigate conditional reality, but the more we can bring our experience of conditional reality into alignment with our insights of absolute reality, the more we will be able to see our partners, our friends, and our family as who they are and not who we want or need them to be.

I work at this more and more in my own life. I try as best I can to honor those I know -- and her that I love most -- for themselves, and not for who I want or need them to be. This is much easier with friends and coworkers, much harder with Kira.

The more I meditate and know my own mind, the easier it becomes. But it is far from easy. It may be the greatest task in my relationship with Kira -- to love her as purely as I can, without attachments, without expectations. To do so will free me, and it will give her freedom within our relationship.

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