If the Buddha Married

Creating Enduring Relationships on a Spiritual Path

Charlotte Kasl, Phd

5 star must reading.   [The following is what I highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my List of Peace resources.  My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work.  To properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the proper context.]

 

·         This book is about creating a loving, trusting bond with a special partner –a bond based on a deep level of knowing, understanding, and compassion that allows each person to flow easily between separateness and oneness.  It shows how vitality, spontaneity, and freedom emrge as we become able to see our partner clearly – free from images, illusions, and expectations.

·         ….understanding our attachments – how our expectations, fears, and demands lie at the root of our individual suffering, including our suffering in relationships.

·         …an open mind, sometimes known in spiritual teachings as Zen mind or “beginner’s mind.”

·         We stay alive to each other through an ongoing process of asking questions: Who are you? Who am I?  What do you feel, need, think, and want? What do I feel, need, think, and want? Thus, our relationship becomes dynamic and alive rather than static and predictable.

·         …Our individual spiritual journey and our emotional development are deeply entwined with our ability to create an intimate union with another.

·         ..The health of their relationships had far more to do with self-awareness, commitment, openness, acceptance, shared values, and the ability to embrace differences and handle conflict –along with a strong attraction and liking for each other.

·         …learn to come into the present so we are not controlled by these age-old reactions.

·         This book underscores how a commitment to knowing and accepting oneself and one’s partner helps create a context of trust and safety.

·          ...ever we disown within us will be reflected in the distance we keep from the others.

 

 

PART I

The Spiritual Path to Love

 

1.     Buddhism for Lovers and Partners

 

·         Our explorations of vital, loving relationships will include Buddhist concepts of impermanence, lovingkindness, compassion, attachments, the nature of our conditioned responses, and the underlying unity of All That Is.

·         ….and our task on the spiritual path is to be engaged fully in whatever is happening right now, without judgment or expectations.

·         We come to accept that for everyone, life is unpredictable, difficult, and wondrous.  This, in turn, allows us to cherish, forgive, and love our brothers and sisters on this imperfect human path.

·          ..Underneath our surface behaviors and thoughts lies the essence of our being, a  unifying  force that flows through all of us

·         .…embraces the belief that we harm others out of our own unconsciousness or ignorance.

·         …Buddhist principles that are central to loving relationships.

 

1.      Emptiness is form, form is emptiness:  we are all connected.  At our deepest level, we are essence – the universal I Am.  

2.      Using the four noble truths to create awareness. The first noble truth is that suffering is inherent to life. The second noble truth asserts that we suffer because of our attachments –our craving, clinging, and demanding.  The third noble truth is that Nirvana  - equanimity, peace and cessation of craving is  possible and available to all when we cease our attachments. The fourth noble truth is that there is an eightfold path that leads to being free of attachments.  They include Right Understanding, Right Aspiration, Right Action, Right Speech,  Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration, and Right Mindfulness, Right Relationships.  I learned that my conditioning and expectations created my turmoil, not the words or actions of the other person.  Whenever you agitated, upset, angry, mad, or hurt, you have an attachment to something being different than it is or you are afraid of the outcome.…..realize you are creating your emotional state.  In relationships, people become attached…they don’t depend on it from their partner.  Our attachments don’t disappear, but we see them for what they are – the chattering of our conditioned of our conditioned mind. 

 

3.      Experience lovingkindness.  When two people fully open their hearts, wanting only the best for each other….This is the essence of lovingkindness.   The foundation of lovingkindness is bringing an unconditional friendliness and acceptance to ourselves.

 

4.      Accept the impermanence of life…relationships are not fixed.

 

5.      Recognize samsara, the wheel of suffering.  Samsara is about the suffering inherent in living a shallow existence of habituated patterns without reflection, contemplation, or understanding.  Essentially, the Buddhist path is one of waking up – opening our minds, taking off our armor, and finding that tender spot in our hearts.   The end point is letting go of all of it and simply being present in life, with a loving heart and a free mind.

 

 

2.     Say Hello to Your Beloved: Sufism

 

·         If Buddhism is about meeting the emptiness and feeling at one with the void, Sufism is more about filling oneself up and surrendering to the ecstasy of nature, love, and being one with all That Is. 

 

 

 

3.     Learn to Trust Yourself :  The Society of Friends

 

·         Quakers make decisions by consensus…Consensus does not mean that individuals  wholeheartedly agree in all things. 

·         It’s that they come to decisions based on a process of listening, understanding, and speaking their mind as they seek a positive solution that is agreeable for all concerned.

·         ….simplicity…

·         This helps create time for what is important – namely,  introspection,  pursuing our interests, connecting with the people we love, and being of service in the world.

·         …a belief in our interconnectedness; profound respect for others; being guided by a greater good beyond material possessions, status, and image; valuing silence and stillness of the mind; acceptance of differences; developing inner awareness of one’s perceptions and motivation; commitment to service and seeking guidance from within.

·         ….universal principles.

 

 

4.  Explore The Source of An Enduring Bond

 

·         “Stubborn, We’re stubborn!” “It means you don’t bail out when it gets tough. 

·         You have long-term thinking for a long term relationship. 

·         You really mean it when you make a commitment.

·         Some of the fundamental traits that typified the couples with successful long-term relationships included:

 

1.      A strong liking/attraction to each other, often from the moment they met; many said they were best friends.

2.      A deep level of commitment to being a couple as well as separate individuals

3.      An ability to resolve conflict

4.      Shared values, dreams and lifestyle

5.      Showing appreciation, respect, care, and consideration for each other.

6.      Taking pleasure and  delight in each other’s company

7.      A capacity to pull together during hard times

8.      Strong connections to community and a commitment to being service to others

9.      A good sense of humor and an ability to laugh at and reflect on themselves

10.  Supporting each other to be their best self.

 

·         Marriage…is also about delight, pleasure, shared activities, and friendship.

·         …Enduring couples understand that they both come as a package deal and they accept differences.

·         …”That’s just the way she/he is.”  “Abandon hope”

·         ….Ask yourself, How would our lives be if I just accepted her or him the way she or he is?……we speak  in the spirit of revealing ourselves, not changing our partner.

 

Sufferance

 

·         The marriage comes first….because the marriage is the central unit to all other processes.

 

Fortitude, Grit, Strength

 

·         First of all, the practice (of the art of loving) requires discipline…they met problems  as a team.

 

 

6 Tune In to Yourself, Tune in to Your Life

 

·         Our body becomes the barometer of truth….

·         Hypervigilant  - a common trait among children brought up in troubled families where the  threat of physical or emotional violence was present

·         …..a  protective stance born of fear.

·         Attunement comes from a relaxed, receptive state motivated by a desire to know, understand, and resonate with ourselves and another person. The purpose is connection, not safety.  With hypervigilance, the scanner is directed outwardly.  With attunement, we are resonating with ourself and another person.

·         By asking questions and listening carefully to our partner, we help them listen more deeply to themselves.

 

 

Part II

I, You, And Us: A Dance in Three Parts

 

7 Experience the “ US ” Place of Relationship: Becoming more than we could be alone

 

·         To be in true relationship requires two evolving people who attend to the trinity of I, You, and Us. 

·         To create the trinity of I, You and Us, we need enough of a separate self so we are not unduly afraid of being swallowed up or absorbed by the person

·         …..That is the foundation of the “us” place –two well-formed people who can be separate yet able to merge into union with each-other.

·         With truly happy couples, it is clear that the marriage is paramount to both of them.

 

 

9       Create More “Us” Consciousness

 

·         If you feel the “us” bond is shaky in your relationship, I have listed some actions you can take to help strengthen your bond:

 

1.      Think of what you have to gain by creating an “us” place.

2.      Learn the language and mind –set of “us”….never take our partner for granted…..awareness of the couple as a system

3.      Repeatedly ask the question “Am I creating closeness or separation?”

4.      Avoid unilateral announcements or decisions

5.      Listen beneath the surface of a behavior…and look for the positive intention…..there  is a positive intention underlying our behavior

6.      Take comfort in your bond. Pull together instead of isolating.

7.      Open up and talk about yourself…If the “us” place feels like a foreign concept, it’s likely there is unfinished hurt or trauma from the past that has led you to be self-protective or self-absorbed.

 

 

10    Feel the Healing Power of Connection

 

·         Ideally,  a loving union can provide both an anchor and freedom

·         ….trusting relationship…

·         One health risk factor that underlies all the others is a sense of isolation, loneliness, a feeling of  being disconnected.

 

 

Part III

Look In Your Own Mirror

 

12   Ask Yourself, “Am I talking about myself”

 

·         …it’s important to remember that judgments directed outward often reflect judgments of self.

·          

 

13  Remember to Ask, “Who Owns the Problem”

 

·         In the exquisite dance of relationships, is important to sort out whether a problem belongs to an individual or to the “us” place

·         …..setting limits,  offering suggestions, being supportive…

·         .that’s enough…..

·         when we have a problem we have three choices –leave the situation, change the situation or accept it completely.  Otherwise it occupies tremendous energy, and keeps us from being present. 

 

 

 

 

14  Live  In The Center of Your Own Life

 

·         Ask yourself, what brings you pleasure and helps you expand? What have you always wanted to do? 

·         When you’re taking on new endeavours, remember that the purpose….it’s to feel the pulse of your own life.

 

·         The more we flow with ourselves, the deeper we can immerse ourselves in a loving relationship.

 

 

15 Notice the Stories You Tell Yourself

 

·         The single most vital step on your journey toward enlightenment is this:  learn to disidentify from your mind

·         …..We need to stop telling ourselves the same old tales and start resonating with the present. 

·         In relationships, we tend to make up a story about our partner that turns into an image of who he or she is…..rather than relating in the present to this living, breathing, everchanging person. 

·         Take a few minutes to reflect on all the stories you tell yourself about your  partner that keep you apart.  Then  imagine letting them all go and looking in your partner’s eyes and seeing who’s there today.

 

 

 

Part IV

The Daily Practice of Living and Loving

 

16  Treasure Trust:  Keep Agreements With Great Care

 

·         As in everything else, I must start with myself….I must do my  utmost to act in harmony with my conscience and my better self.

·         Keeping agreements nurtures trust and creates a safe haven relationships.  Being able to keep agreements also reflects self-knowledge.

 

 

17  Tune In to Your Deeper Motivation

 

·         Exploring our motivation is the groundwater of the spiritual path. And it’s often immensely uncomfortable. 

·         To become  more attuned to ourselves, we go beneath our first impulses to react, and ask instead

 

18 “That’s Not What I said”  Notice your Interpretations

 

·         Buddhism talks about clear seeing  in the present. 

·         Hearing what people truly say, without adding our own interpretations, allows us to see our partner in current time rather through the haze of our conditioned mind.

·         On the path of awakening, we need to realize it is our own filters that create our interpretations of what is taking place around us.

·         ……”have you actually asked him….You need to be very specific.”

·         ……..we don’t  “just know.”

·         …….recognize that it is her filter that is determining her reaction, she opens the possibility of having a completely different response

·         …….realize that he misinterpreted her request, and it was his responsibility to voice his desires, the conflict will dissolve.

 

 

19 Learn to Trust Your Intuition

 

·         Imagine operating from a deep level of awareness, free from your internal censors. 

 

 

20  Of Love and Litter:  Dealing with Compulsions In Relationships

 

·         To be in a relationship, we often need to navigate around each other’s foibles and weird little behaviors.

·         Compulsions, in contrast, involve chronic, often ritualistic behaviors that we use to calm ourselves and reduce tension.

·         …compulsions are highly charged attachments.  What separates a compulsion from a mere preference is the agitation and distress one feels if the compulsion is not satisfied.

·          Because compulsions keep us preoccupied, they also create separation in relationships in several ways.  First, when someone is compulsive, people around them tend to live in fear of setting them off.

·         A second way compulsions affect relationships is when the person with the compulsion blames others for his agitation.

·         ..On the spiritual path, we don’t ask the world to change for us, we reflect on our own attachments.

·         ….third way…we aren’t present for our partner or children.

·         …a final way …our demanding standards prevent us from having pleasure with our partner and family.

·         Delve beneath the compulsion and get at the underlying feelings

·         .…not wise to mould yourself around your partner’s compulsion.

·         …talk with your partner.

·         If your partner has a compulsion he or she is not willing to explore or give up, your challenge is to allow it to be, unless you see it as a cause to end your relationship.

·         Once you talk about its effect on you and say you’d like to see it change, it’s time  to step back and accept it. 

·         You don’t have to like it or accommodate it but it’s time for lovingkindness and patience.

 

 

21  Explore Meditation and Psychotherapy

 

·         The more we clear our minds of conditioning, entrenched beliefs, and expectations, the more we exist in the moment.

·         Relationship problems usually reflect developmental lags and stuck places from childhood that make it difficult to flow comfortably between closeness and separateness or embrace both states simultaneously.

·         Stillness and quiet and being completely present in the moment is meditation.

·         The point of psychotherapy is to clear out the habituated reactions, relieve suffering, and create space to allow consciousness to enter.

 

 

Part V

When I Was A Child I Spoke As a Child:  Am I Still Doing It  Now?

 

22  Ask Yourself “What Age Am I At This Moment?”

 

·         How old do I feel right now?

·         We are emotionally wired into a past experience that is affecting our response.  We need to stop and reflect before acting.

·         ….bring witness or observer on  board and gain an important sense of perspective.

·         …by recognizing that we are reacting from a child state, we can shift our focus and do something different.  In doing so, we can change the balance of our relationship.

 

 

23 Find Out Who Married Whom

 

·         some people are primarily motivated by needs that hark back to uncompleted tasks from childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

24  Recognize The Value of “Leaving Home”

 

·         ….through a process of reflection and experimentation choosing which ones we want to keep, and letting go the rest….’differentiation.”

·         Until we leave home, we are only partially married to our partner.

·         The key to transformation is to bring kindness, understanding, and compassion to the parts of us that feel so confused or shameful.

·         ....differentiation is just another word for someone on the spiritual path –someone who is learning to see clearly in the present and is no longer locked into automatic, habituated reactions to people and situations.

 

 

25  Explore Levels of Relationships

 

·         As we differentiate, there is an increase in the following:   As people differentiate, the following traits decrease.

 

 

26  Level One:  Afraid to Be Close, Afraid to Be Separate

 

·         What can be done? People experiencing such profound fear, lack of trust, and ambivalence usually need psychotherapy to heal the deep levels of discomfort with both closeness and separateness before they attempt to have an intimate relationship.

 

 

27  Level Two:  Sometimes I See You, Sometime I Don’t

 

·         What is fought out between the mates, at level two, is the problem that neither one of them has been able to address internally – the problem of how to be a distinct and separate individual while remaining emotionally attached to another human being.

·          The core issue for these couples is each mate’s inability to contain, internally, both sides of the autonomy/ intimacy polarity.

·         …called “projective identification.”

·         …the one appearing to want distance has disowned a need for closeness and the one appearing to want closeness has disowned a need to have more  of  a separate self.

·         What needs to happen for the couple to have a more complete relationship is for each one to become internally conscious of a need for both closeness and distance.

·         What we all need to remember is that as adults we choose our partner and we stay.

·         We are lacking internal awareness. We believe that something external will fill us up, rather than realizing that the emptiness persists because we are so unaware of our inner world.

·         We are initially attracted to someone with our disowned traits because it gives us a feeling of completion.

·         ….he keeps the fight externalized between himself and his partner, rather than facing the internal discomfort of realizing how inadequate and worthless he feels.

·         …afraid of seeking counselling because there is so much unconscious material inside they would have to face.

·         It is our willingness to bear our own internal discomfort and struggles that is the key to making change.

·         What You Can Do

·         ..Stop rescuing and parenting your partner.

·         ....Become aware of the parts of yourself  you have disowned.

·         The more we become aware of our inner polarities, the less they are projected and played out in the relationship.

·         …Listening…

·         Trading Intimacy Days.

·         …Explore all your escape hatches in life.

 

 

28  Level Three:  Knowing Yourself so you Can Know your Beloved

 

·         The key difference at level three is that even though the spouses are projecting unwanted thoughts and feelings onto one another, there is not so much unconscious process involved. 

·         …I looked at the house through Marie’s point the view.

·         …keep asking yourself if you can see yourself in your partner’s behavior.

·         Reflecting again on Buddhist principles, we exert ourselves to look deeper, go for help, and own up to our behavior.

 

 

29  Level Four:  Feeling At Peace With Closeness and Separateness

 

·         ..”tolerating ambivalence”

·         ....tolerance for inner complexity and can take responsibility for their feelings because they are conscious of them.

·         …our individual commitment to self-awareness is at the heart of both our spiritual journey and our ability to create intimacy in our lives.

 

 

30  Level Five:  I and Thou-We are One, We are Two

 

·         ..promised land of relationship.

·         The closeness and separateness polarities that were previously problematic have dissolved.

·         Conflicts that arise are negotiated primarily on an external level, because there is no underlay of meaning and wondering that keeps conflict simmering at an unconscious level.

·         …each member of the couple has absorbed the meaning of kindness and compassion

·         There are myriad ways people evolve through these levels.

·         Sometimes,  if one person moves to a higher level, it inspires their partner to follow.

·         …through your growing awareness of your internal world, you can  make dramatic shifts in your relationships.

 

 

Part VI

Communion is the Purpose of Communication

 

32  Remember the Basics of Good Communication

 

·         Unfortunately, our habituated patterns of shame and fear often block the pathways of connection.

 

 

33  Give No Advice – Well  Most of  The Time

 

·         I feel with loving compassion the problems of others without getting caught up in their problems that are giving them lessons they need for their growth.

·         Advice giving is often a form of quelling our own anxiety.

·         If we accept that there’s nothing inherently bad or wrong with struggle, discomfort, anxiety, or making a mistake, we will be able to be a compassionate friend.

·         If you feel a powerful urge to give advice, ask permission first.

·         If our partner doesn’t comply or do what we wish they would, we need to shift the focus to ourselves, because we can’t change the other person.

·         Part of giving advice rests on knowing the disposition of our partner or friend.

·         So avoid giving unsolicited advice, ask permission when you do, and if you cross the line , do it with gusto and clarity, then step down and remember everyone has to find his or her own way. 

·         When we let go of control, we step together into silence, where truth  can be heard, where we can hear the beating of our hearts together, joined in love.

 

 

34  Ask For  No Advice- Except Sometimes

 

·         If  you tend to look to everyone else as an expert, including your partner,  you are discounting your own internal wisdom.

·         Sometimes, when are conflicted, it’s better to get out of our mind and put question or concern in our ‘holly middle’ and trust that the answer will come in time.

·         “What would I be feeling if I let myself know the truth about the situation?”.

·          Usually, when we are obsessing, we are avoiding knowing what we know. 

·         We don’t want to face an unpleasant truth that could disrupt our lives.

 

35  You Can Defend Yourself Without Being Defensive

 

·         We need to be able to discern if we are jumping in with defensiveness, or if we are honouring and protecting our essential self.

·         We need to find that core within us that serves as a guide- post and helps us rest securely within ourselves.

·         On the Buddhist path, we don’t want to create separation- and that includes separation from our feelings and internal experience.  When people remain silent because they are scared to speak up, they are allowing fear to control their lives.

·         Remember, relationships are about two growing, open, honest people coming together to help each other be their best selves.

·         From the “us” place we want to know the truth and we want to understand our partner’s point of view.

 

 

36 Learn The Art of Apology

 

·         When we hurt another person, we need to give something back.  It’s like putting our love  into action.

·         This must not be done out of guilt, rather, we do it in good faith knowing that to err is human.

·         We aren’t  attempting to do good, we are committing ourselves to be fully attuned to ourselves and live by  our integrity.

·         Perfectionistic people often have difficulty apologizing or asking forgiveness because it reveals their imperfections, which they experience as shameful.

·         It’s important to be clear with ourselves, because accepting an apology means putting the whole subject to rest and not bringing it up again.

 

 

37  Rebuild The Bridge: Forgiveness and Letting Go

 

·         Forgiveness is about releasing our resentments, pain, and desire for retribution against another.  It's like saying, I see you as human. 

·         We become able to forgive when we can step back and see the other person doing what they are conditioned to do.

·         …if we can fully grasp the Buddhist principle that hurtful behavior stems from ignorance, pain, and suffering, we may eventually feel mercy and compassion instead of anger and judgment.

·         Most often our real task is to forgive ourselves.

·         When we can forgive each other, we can reconcile nearly anything.

·         Reconciliation is the blessing of two people stepping past hurt, pride and ego, and revealing their hearts. 

·         We go from separation to connection, from dissonance  to harmony.

 

Part VII

Make Friends With Conflict

 

38  The Art of Handling Conflict

 

·         Crucial to the artful handling of conflict is the commitment of two people to enter into the “us” circle- to agree to be honest, vulnerable, struggle together, know each other, and work for the good of the relationship while not abandoning their individual needs. 

·         The commitment to the relationship provides a safe container for differences, the implication being that we’re in this together and we’ll work it out.

 

 

39  Meeting Our Differences:  Fight the Good Fight

 

·         Whenever there is confusion

·         ….you know there is something that somebody…

·         ..do not want to see…Enter into it.

·         The question is not whether we will have conflict as a couple, it’s how we’ll name it and deal with it.

·         To the extent we are in conflict with ourselves

·         …..conflict will feel contentious and scary because we are actually resisting self-knowledge.

·         ….think of dealing constructively with conflict as a process that can be learned. 

·         It is a worthy process that requires honesty, vulnerability, and a willingess to listen, reflect on oneself, and change.

·         The process involves naming the disagreement, employing a process of meditation, finding solutions, and implementing them.

·         …finding the mediatior within yourself.

·         To mediate a conflict means that we enter into the “us” place, where we are concerned with the needs of  both individuals and meditation helps us move toward listening, understanding, and comprehending what the conflict is all about. 

·         This necessitates revealing our needs and feelings. 

·         It is crucial to remember that we cannot mediate and at the same time remain distant and intellectual. 

·         It is our vulnerability that makes  us transparent to each other, softens our anger, opens  our hearts to each other, and leads to resolution.

·         ….solving a problem leads toward enlightenment and illumination…find solutions in the “us” place.

 

 

 

 

40  Practice Conflict Prevention

 

·         The agreement to keeping a relationship clear is one of the most profound commitments we can make.

·          It implies a commitment to know ourselves, to sort out our internal censors from our voice of wisdom, and often to speak up, even when we are afraid.

·          It means letting go of  the outcome and taking the risk of feeling wrong, silly or vulnerable.

·         Remember, if you feel uncomfortable our and start withdrawing  or building up resentments, it’s your responsibility  to bring yourself back into the relationship and open up the dialogue. 

·         When you blame your partner, or hide your feelings, you have stepped out of the “us” place.

·         Probably the most demeaning thing we can do in a relationship is to withdraw emotionally and stockpile hurts and anger.

 

 

41  Recognize Counterfeit Conflicts

 

·         ….it’s important to sort out ego-based reactions from childhood that need our individual attention, as opposed to true conflicts in the present that need us to negotiate our differences.

·         …here are some steps to help us break free of the small containers that keep us stuck in repetitive counterfeit arguments.  (Ground rule:  Keep the focus on yourself and do not blame your partner.)

 

1.      Notice repetitive arguments

2.      Ask yourself, “How old do I feel in this argument?”

3.      Ask yourself, “ What are we really arguing about?”

4.      Tune in to your feelings and peel them back to see if there’s another one underneath

5.      Become aware of what you are truly wanting and needing from your partner, and let him or her now.

6.      Talk about whatever you are willing to do in response to your partner’s request

7.      Voice your appreciation for your partner.  Again, be specific.

….Other possible avenues of help are to talk with friend, be in a support group, read books on relationships or spirituality, or seek counseling.

 

 

42  Remember, We are Animals with Neocortex: Recognize Fight, Flight, and Freeze Reactions

 

·         …we haven’t learned the basics for respectful conflict solution.

·         ….going numb with feat.

·         We need to raise our awareness of these automatic responses  if we are to have a relationship in present time.  Otherwise, we are prisoners of the past and projecting our psychological history onto our partner.

·         When we are in a fear state, we are basically in survival mode, disconnected from our neocortex, and unable to draw on our inner resources.

·         ….find a way to intervene as a couple on how you handle survival responses.

 

 

43  Recognize The Many Faces of  Anger

 

·         Being aware of our anger and exploring its source can be a powerful means for awakening.

·         …being able to say no and set limits is a prerequisite for feeling safe enough to say whole-hearted yes.

·         The agreement that helps relationships stay alive is, “I will say what’s bothering me and I will listen to what’s bothering you.”

·         Voicing our needs opens the possibility of a richer, more satisfying relationship, yet it also carries the risk of finding out our needs will not be met.

·         To the ego, this is frightening because a refusal feels like a withdrawal of love. 

·         From a spiritual perspective, however, it is just the what is of the moment -  people say yes, people say no, and it’s up to us to accept it. 

·         Very often, if there is a no we can find other ways to meet our needs and desires.

·         The important point was that all the successful couples perceived that they could talk about anything and it would resolved.

·         The traits that block resolution to conflict and are generally harmful to relationships are what Gottman calls the four horsemen of the apocalypse –criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. 

·         If you learn to recognize these automatic responses, you will take a big step toward a more peaceful, pleasurable relationship.

 

 

45   Learn Fair-Fight  Rules

 

·         Here are some of the basic fair-fight ground rules:

 

1.      Stick to one topic at a time

2.      Talk in “I” statements

3.      Avoid statements such as:  “You Always”

4.      Go beneath your anger, frustration, or fear to voice your needs

5.      Speak simply in two or three sentences at a time

6.      If you get frustrated, breathe deeply and ask for a moment of quiet

7.      If you get stuck in an argument, take a longer break so each of you can list all of the attachments or  demands that you are bringing to the table.

8.      Apologize if you cross the line

9.      Remember, the point of conflict is…..to get to the other side so you can enjoy being together.

10.  Keep the conflict in the “us” place.  It must be focused on finding a win-win solution that both of you can live with.

11.  Do your best to keep an open mind to new ways of thinking and handling the situation.  It is only your ego that stops you from trying new ways that take you beyond the old conditioned thoughts in your head.

 

 

46  Learn to Self – Soothe

 

·         Healthy self-soothing calms the nervous system, stills our mind, and helps us see a broad perspective.

·         At  the deepest level, self-soothing is about staying steady in the midst of stress:

 

1.      Breathe deeply and soften your belly.

2.      Repeatedly  tell yourself  “it matters, but It’s not serious.”

3.      Ask your partner is she has a request

4.      Remember a phrase, poem, song or saying that is soothing and use it repeatedly so it becomes like a hypnotic cue.

5.      Imagine both of you in the “us” place

6.      Check out your interpretations

7.      Ask yourself “how old  am I acting?”

8.      Say, I get to make mistakes

9.      Go into “Big Mind”

10.  Observe your fight as if you were seeing it on a movie screen.  Watch with fascination and interest

11.  Distract yourself

12.  Call a trusted friend

13.  Remember the big picture

14.  Write in a journal

15.  Practice Tonglin meditation

16.  Seek counselling

 

 

48  Making Love:  The Union of  Body  and Spirit

 

·         …a union of commitment, passion, joy, humour, kindness, knowing, and honesty. 

·         The sexual bond becomes an expression of all we are – physical love within the union or context of all we mean to each other.

·         …a healing glue.

·         …Without commitment, sex is ….a sweet taste but no meaning.

 

 

 

49  Sexual High or Sexual Connection: What’s the Difference?

 

·         Being sexual in the present with our beloved, without expectations or ego.

·         ….Western mind brought up in a culture that teaches us to fixate on acquiring, owning, possessing, controlling, and getting what we want, sometimes at the expense of the others or by sacrificing our values.

·         Sexuality with attachments becomes an I-object experience.

·         …we render both of us into objects.  Emptiness will follow an.

·         Sex that is about high, and has absolutely nothing to do with relationship or coming into awareness of who you are. 

·         To use another’s body without connecting to that person in a knowing, loving way is to create a violation that penetrates all for our being.

 

 

50  Finding Out Why The Fire has Faded

 

1.      Medications, physical illness, depression, and anxiety.  Check with your doctor or naturopath to see if this is possible.

2.      Lack of knowledge about sex, sexual arousal, and the possibilities of sexual union.

3.      The relationship has lost its meaning.  Complacency has set in and the couple isn’t talking, spending time together, and making the relationship a priority.  It may also mean that the individuals lives are in a rut and there is little joy, creativity, spontaneity, and pleasure in life in general.

4.      One or both people have been having sex out of duty because they are afraid to say no

5.      There is a convert form of ‘using” underlying the sexual relationship.  If either person is using sex to fulfil a need for a physical high, for security, as a tension release, to vent feelings of anxiety, or to shore up the ego.  It’s like toxins creeping into the relationship.

6.      Hormonal changes related to age and / or menopause.  This varies immensely and there are some remedies that help people maintain sexual desire.

 

 

51  Deepen your Sexual Bond

 

·         Whatever reasons resonate with you, the first steps are to reaffirm your commitment to each other, name the difficulties, and reveal you true feelings.

·         Be willing to know yourself deeply.

·          A first step can be to say “ I am willing to feel whatever is happening inside myself throughout the day, during sex. 

·         “I am willing to reflect on myself, to meet whatever is hiding.”

·         Become open and vulnerable to your partner.

·         Tune in to your motivation for being sexual.

·         When you are sexual, go very slowly.  Allow  the expansive energy to move upward     

      into your heart.

·         When you are sexual allow the energy to build.

·         Take turns giving and receiving.

·         Explore the ways in which you take good care of yourself in the whole of your life – health eating, exercise, meeting new people, exploring your interests, stretching your capabilities, being of service, become more conscious and aware.

·         Put away pornography in all forms.

·         Refrain from alcohol or other drugs, particularly before being sexual.

·         Be willing to stretch your edges.

·         Make love throughout the day by touching, being playful listening, and taking a full part in all facets of your relationship.

·        If you repeatedly have a hard time responding, feeling sexual, or become flooded by past painful memories, get professional help.

 

 

52  Support Each Other Being Completely Honest

 

·         When we are sexual out of guilt, duty, or to keep someone from leaving, we are etching a message in our brain that pairs sex with self-betrayal. 

·         We become divided.

·         …..be encouraged to say no to sex without being guilted or shamed. 

·         This opens the door to saying yes.

·         ….get past the idea that she was rejecting me –that my worth was measured.

·         …as men become conscious, they, too, want sex in the context of care and connection and must feel absolutely free to say yes or no to being sexual.

·         Part of everyone’s evolution is to be clear when we come together to make love.

·         That we bring our mind, body, and spirit into the “us” place, to mutually express love, pleasure each other, and feel at one.

 

 

54   Understand the True Meaning  of Monogamy

 

·         ..If we want to dissolve into the arms of beloved, to experience that mystical union, we need the safety and depth monogamy.

·         Sexuality in the heart of the beloved is about complete surrender to that person, to being connected at the deepest possible level. 

·         We become as one, which reflects our union with God, or Spirit.

·         ....If we bring another being in there we are polluting that essence.

 

 

55  What to Do With Attraction to Others

 

·         Keeping this boundary clear is the task of a committed monogamous relationship.

·         Women have affairs because they feel they are dying in a relationship – they feel lonely, unhappy, and unappreciated. 

·         When someone shows romantic interest, it arouses those long-forgotten feelings of delight, anticipation, and sexual energy.  It feels like coming  alive.

·         …she didn’t do it to him so much as she did it to herself – she broke her vow and compromised her integrity.

 

 

56  Make Love With a Beginner’s Mind

 

·         With a beginner’s mind, we make love to our beloved for the first time, because there is no past, no future, and no expectations.

·         We are here with our lover to know each other, to feel the pleasure and wonder of these amazing bodies.

 

 

Part IX

I and Thou:  Even Good Relationships Can Get Better

 

57  Keep your Relationship Dancing

 

·         The concept of exertion, one of the six paramitas –or instructions on wholesome behaviour – means going beyond resistance or complacency to find something more expansive and wonderful.

·         If you want to bring more vitality into your union, take time with your partner to talk about the things you enjoy doing together as a couple, and then go even further to discuss any new interests you’d like to explore together. 

·         Then make plans.

·         …come back to the present – the only place where love exists.

·         …no matter what style your marriage follows, you must have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together if your marriage is to be stable.

·         What’s important is for both people to take time to explore what feeds them as a couple, break through any resistance, and take action.

 

 

59   Remember, Our Task is to Expand Our Love  Not to Change Others

 

·         …when someone is being cruel or unkind, it stems from his or her internal suffering or ignorance.

·         When relationships become our spiritual journey, we see our beloved just as she is  - foibles, flaws, and wondrous traits.

·         “All we can go on is today, and how your partner is right now. 

·         The problem is not with him, it’s about your  images and attachments.” 

·         Can you look at  a package as a whole and know it’s all part of who he is? Can you stretch yourself to love more fully right now?

·         That is the task of love – to see your partner clearly, to let go of your images and enter the dance of relationship with this flesh-and blood, perfectly imperfect being you have chosen as your beloved.

·          It’s to journey side by side, both becoming more of who your really are, enjoying the drama and the dance.

 

 

60  Accept Life’s Daily Losses

 

·         …when we get attached to it and can’t accept change, we get stuck.

·         ….We need to let go.

·         To feel free, we need to remember that all things pass away and we will too.

·          One of Us will probably die before the other, and one of Us will be left alone.

·         Don’t let the ground under your feet get to solid.  Don’t get too secure or caught in your ways, because it puts you to sleep.

·         When love is ripe and rich within us, we have a safe harbour inside no matter what dramas are unfolding around us.

 

 

61  Relationships Need Tending, And Tending Takes Time

 

·         We need to invest time and energy in each other for our relationship to flourish.

·         …ponder the need to tend a relationship.

·         …If a gulf has grown between you, it won’t get better by doing nothing.

 

 

62  Your Loving Relationship Blesses the World

 

·         Love is not emotion, not attraction, not sentiment, not sensation,  not attachment, not possession, not dependency, not need;  it is not using someone to fill an emptiness, to make us feel important, or to shore up our ego. 

·         No words can capture love because it is eternal, beyond thought.

·        …..is a story of two people who brought out the absolute best in each other.