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The Spiritual Issues of Our Time 3

Relationships - a matter of helping ourselves

It is probable that more words are being spoken and written about personal relationships than any other matter under the sun. Yet for all those words, when it comes to breaking out of conditioned expectations, we are as helpless rabbits caught in the glare of headlights.

The spiritually minded might like to call this being powerless before love which confers a certain dignity, but the reality is that when it comes to relationships we do not want to have to reckon with ourselves or even to think intelligently.

We want to believe that love is a miracle-worker: able to make good any shortfall, no matter how obvious, to bind together, no matter how unsuitable, and to defy the law of probability in order to give us what we want.

The hope of a long lasting relationship is opiate of our time.

Many of us admit to being kept going by the hope that one day we will find lasting love. We focus upon what this will give us and do not think of what, in a time of rapid change, it will take. But provided we are getting on with our lives whilst we are waiting for what we may or may not recognise when it arrives, this is relatively innocuous.

Less innocuous is the process where by we allow unrealistic expectations to lead us into destructive situations and then refusing to acknowledge our own responsibilities in this send out bitterness and resentment out into the world. 

What is the difference between hope and unrealistic expectation? Self-responsibility.

Relationship is the means by which we develop consciousness. Our experience in incarnation is an experience in relationship. In incarnation we meet with ourselves. We meet our own contradictions and problems in external forms, principally our personal relationships, so that eventually we may acquire a different consciousness. At a time of rapid change we are required to face many different aspects of ourselves.

The opportunity to do this is a gift of the Holy Spirit but we are receiving it like a slap in the face.

There is nothing wrong with relationships, our own or anyone else's.  They are doing the job that they are designed to do. Our problem with relationships is that we will not move on in our thinking and let go of old ideals.  That is something quite different.

The problem that we are caught up in now is not that the personal relationships are breaking down to be replaced by others -degeneration is a fact of form life and at a time of transition forms will break down quicker - but that we do not have realistic expectations of what will be the eventual outcome of a union between two people who are involved in change. When the probable occurs we consider that this is aberant. We feel wronged by life and love and burden our children with our bitterness and cynicism.

Spiritually aware people who accept this in theory tend to forget it no less quickly than anyone else when they meet problems in their own lives, because when it comes to personal relationships we have our own ideas on what relationships should be and do for us.

In fact, they are not our own ideas at all, they are inherited ideas and they take no account of the fact that we are not as those before us have been. We are not even as our parents were. We inhabit a different world. We have a greater awareness of individuality, a different value system and different opportunities.

We take up the challenge of change, we commit ourselves to growth but we do not want to consider in any intelligent way why we cannot have the kind of stability in relationships that our parents had.

They belonged to a generation committed to continuity and security. They made sacrifices for that stability that we consider a denial of individuality and an obstacle to development. We hold onto their ideal of longevity without thinking of what that took from them or the appropriateness of it for ourselves.

We are living in a time of accelerating change. That change is working itself out through us. How then can our relationships that are simply reflections of ourselves tell a different story? They cannot and they will not and we have a better use of our time than mourning the loss of something that we have helped bring to an end.

We could be thinking about how much better it would be for our children if we gave up on the old expectations and started working purposefully and positively with the idea of serial relationships, and all that that involves for children, rather than with resentment, grief and a sense of betrayal and aberration.  These are the greatest toxins in children’s lives, not the fact that their parents are not still together.

But where relationships are concerned we do not seem to want to challenge basic assumptions. We prefer the familiar pain of investing in romantic ideals featuring the one true love. Perhaps that is that because no matter how debased they may have become since the twelfth century mystics put them in place to emphasise that human love was a reflection of divine love, we know that they have their origins in soul consciousness and deserve our respect.

But we forget we have to work our way back and the way to the one is through the many. That is true on all levels. Love is not eluding us; but we need still more of the learning that our relationships are giving us before we can understand it and recognise it in all its appearances.

Love is not metered out to us in the form of one person and one relationship, and it is still the greatest power on Earth regardless of what is happening to the divorce rate.

The function of love in human consciousness is to draw us to those things that will eventually enable us to recognise what we are. It will not make us what we are not. Nor will it make relationships other than they are which is the principal agent of self-recognition, no matter how hard we scream at the reflections that we do not like.

Ideals that produce a backlash in the form of anger and other emotionally negativite states are not helping us.

Generally speaking, New Age thinking has not tackled the problem of expectation in relationship in any constructive way. It has retreated into quasi-mysticism, which is always a good place in which to avoid hard facts. If anything, it has encouraged indulgence and a lack of realism by supplying concepts that enable us to dress up common-and-garden sexual attraction, and loneliness, in self-dramatising terms that overlook the fact that relationships have a job to do in the process of spiritual development, and that is to make us more conscious.

The Jungian astrologers did not forget this, however, and some of their best work was done in providing the concepts that would help us understand ourselves and our relationships better. Liz Greene, Stephen Arroyo, and Howard Sasportas deserve honourable mentions in this respect. Any one, astrologer or not, who would try and better understand their relationships should read their work.

In my own work with clients there are three statements made often and with which I will always deal briskly because they are helpful. They are made from resentment, self-pity or laziness and they fuel unrealistic expectations.

       All I want is a lasting relationship.

If you think that, you do not understand the nature of your own unfulfilment. The relationship situation is being allowed to obscure other issues that may even be more important. It is short-hand for ‘I am dissatisfied with my life but don’t want to take the responsibility for dealing with it’.

       We have known each other in past life.

This has nothing do with anything that is of the slightest use in trying to deal with any relationship situation. It is a big, self-dramatising distraction. Do not go there.

       Everybody else has a loving relationship

Look at the divorce rate. Clearly this is not the case.

Our lives are ours to what we will with them, but if we want freedom from the torments of yearning, disappointment, anger and bitterness we must help ourselves and embrace concepts and ideals that will move us on. As it is, holding onto old ideals, we feel only the lack of security and certainty and do not see the gifts being made available to us in this time of rapid change and crumbling structures.

Suzanne Rough.

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