I am very happy to announce that since Wednesday, Elly and I are engaged: we are getting married! Our families and friends have given us their blessings and support, for which we are grateful.
I would like to make use of this moment to write something about my perspective on love and relationships, because
- most conversations about spirituality that I have been in, are actually conversations about relationships and
- most people, that includes Elly and me (!), were pleasantly surprised to hear about our decision because they never thought I would want to get married.
When I observe the people around me, and the relationships that they are having with their partners, I only find very few people who seem to understand the purpose and meaning of that relationship. I believe this is the root cause for most, if not all, problems that are commonly experienced in relationships.
According to what I have seen so far, most people are directly or indirectly seeking ‘being loved’, ‘being fulfilled’, ‘being accepted’, etc. in their relationship. This is because they have entered into one
- because they have not learned how to enjoy aloneness and want to stop feeling lonely, and/or
- because the social habit of being in a relationship motivates them to engage in one, and/or
- due to social pressures forcing them into it.
One of the ‘secrets of life’ that I have discovered is that whatever you are seeking outside yourself, is something you haven’t found inside yourself. When you seek to be loved, you have not loved yourself. When you seek to be accepted, you have not accepted yourself. When you seek to be fulfilled, you have not found fulfilment within yourself.
I am now fully convinced that in order for a human being to be happy, he will have to find love, acceptance, fulfilment and all these within himself. Although it is definitely possible that another person leads you to the experience of love, acceptance and fulfilment, it never lasts. This is because that person cannot be around you all the time, and moreover, that person is probably also not skilled enough to express love continuously.
What you can gain in a relationship is a an enjoyable and safe environment in which love for the self and for others can be practiced. I explicitly say that love is practiced in a relationship because it is not an easy thing at all.
Love means giving the best and highest you have selflessly. In a relationship, you find all the barriers you have built within yourself against the love that rests even deeper within. You find your subtle and not-so-subtle selfishness.
Love means accepting everything and rejecting nothing. It is so easy to love the qualities of others, and it is so hard to love the limitations of others. And that is what you are confronted with in a relationship: the qualities and limitations of you and your partner.
When I see my partner, I feel inspired because of how far she already is in her practice of love. It is an inspiration to me. She gives me the space to make mistakes and learn from them and I sincerely wish that I give her that same space.
The best thing I know to say to another is not “I love you.” but “In my heart, there is a space for you where you can be yourself with all your qualities and limitations.”.
Although there is much more to say about relationships, I’d rather leave you with a saying of Swami Rama to contemplate upon. In a relationship, 1 and 1 does not make 2, but 11.