The Paradox of Relationships and the Mind

Building balanced relationships has somehow become a challenge that I don’t know how to fix. I’m unable to figure out how to apply human values like kindness and compassion to a world moving away from them. With the pursuit of the spiritual path it has become increasingly difficult, when it should have become easier. The trouble started when I began to experience people as a part of me. I began to relate to them in the absence of my ego and personality but it backfired. The more compassion I showed, the more attention I gave, the more empathy I expressed, the less they valued it. They began to perceive me as some kind of a naive who did not know the workings of the world, an Alice that they could use to their advantage. I began to live in some kind of a paradox with everyone cranking up their selfish quotient around me by seeking more and more attention. I did not understand how I could stay true to myself without upsetting the balance outside. Then, a school friend whom I had supported through many tough life situations, quite simply, pushed it too far and it made me realize a few things. For one, I realized that I was doing more harm than good by rampantly applying something that had not yet come into the person’s perception. I was relating to others in a dimension that was not familiar to them.

Keeping relationships strong and healthy requires balance, especially since self-identity is so dominant in our interactions today. We have created a world where kindness comes as a surprise and even seen as a sign of weakness because we are expected to be smart. And smart people don’t give off freely. Smart people know how to use others. They know their ‘worth’. They have their ‘self-esteem’. So how did we move so far away from the better side of us? I think the answer lies in psychology. Society psychology. We are making ourselves in a certain way. ‘What can I get out of this’ or ‘What does she/he want out of me?’ has become an automated thought process in any interaction.

When I was little, I would visit people’s homes with my grandmother and the kindness with which she interacted with others was always returned effortlessly. Today things are very different. Most transactions don’t go beyond utility. We are also very picky with whom we associate. I have seen everyone from orphans, students, strugglers, poor women, rich women, eminent women, come home for tea and conversation to my grandmother’s home. Today, we judge everything, overlook nothing, unless we are benefitting from it. Connecting to another human to offer the best of us, to respect the divine in them, to enhance ourselves, is a laughing matter now. We are a different race, over-flowing on the mind, restraining on the heart. But by bringing psychology every now and then in this beautiful seamless creation, we are limiting our own potential to be who we really are or can be. Our authentic nature of love is being replaced by the clumsiness of an unruly mind.

When I had reached that point where I could not see how to connect my inner and outer world, I found the answer in acceptance. Once there is acceptance, nothing bothers the mind. It makes room for a good balance, which means one can maintain distance while sensing closeness. This is possible only because our whole life is one big relationship. We relate to people, to things, to places, to stars and the beyond. Like the cosmic hum, our relationships have a sound. This sound is alive, resounding from the imprint of our own being whether we are alone or together.

Whatever I have experienced through relationships tells me that we are ‘on’ all the time, even if we have lost someone, are fighting with someone or have cut someone from our life. Some relationships are formless, speechless and without physical presence, like the one we have with an enlightened being. Everything is relating to everything in a continuous vibration and in equal importance. Love is fundamental to our nature. There is love in hate. We are consumed by the one who causes us pain because deep down we are driven by love. In Tantra, a wild cat killing a rabbit for food is considered a great act of love because of the inclusion it brings to existence. The rabbit becomes a part of the cat, the cat a part of the rabbit. We could be either one in our lives, but we still belong to each other.