“When our hearts are open and our feelings are flowing as they’re designed to do, we’re all vulnerable to the divine”
Candace Pert, (2006).
It occurred to me during a recent workshop that all of the questions that I have regarding my life and the ways in which I should conduct myself can be answered quite succinctly; to let go of the things that stop me from loving more and move toward the things that nurture a greater capacity for love, kindness and peace.
The process of emptying ourselves of ego, pride and self provides a direct experience of the universality of human emotion and response to emotive stimuli. When we are aware of the influence of our ‘stories’, the conditions within which these stories arise and the habitual clinging to particular aspect of these stories we gradually become more competent at setting these inhibiting aspects aside and connect with the deeply shared nature of human experience.
Humans, by nature, are social animals, we thrive in conditions where relationships with other humans serve to provide our basic needs of food, and shelter. We take refuge in our relationships with others, seeking validation for our experiences and our interpretations of those experiences, however, it is only through withdrawing from those relationships that we can experience interdependent co-arising as it pertains to our own being. This coming and going between self and no-self, between showing up with others and retreating into emptiness seems, for many, to create a struggle, at least initially, between the being and connection to the divine. It is only through sitting with this struggle, allowing it to play out intra-psychically and inter-personally and observing the results that we may eventually find harmony in being human and inter-being.
In healthy relationships with others it seems essential that we are able to create a healthy differentiation between self and other, that we can respect that conditions exist for the other person that may lead them to thoughts, feelings or actions that we cannot understand or find unacceptable. At the same time, I must take responsibility for the fact that I am the one finding your behaviour confusing or offensive and it is that part of me, which you have just revealed to me, that I must then take responsibility for and let go of in order to move toward greater love. Without this differentiation we close ourselves off to opportunities to grow and experience insight, however, if we do not find a way of flowing between differentiation and inter-being, any insight gained will not come into full fruition.
It seems then, that relationships are an essential element of the path to enlightenment or full awakening. Without others we cannot know our self; without interpersonal experience we cannot come to know love or those things which stop us from loving; without the desire to love more we cannot develop the motivation to develop an understanding of inter-being; unless we experience inter-being we cannot open ourselves completely to love and peace. Understood in this way our relationships with others can be considered in two ways, as an opportunity for growth or as the gift of refuge, together with full openness and connection to the prana of universal consciousness we may find ourselves inhabiting the conditions that give way to enlightenment.