Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
I’m currently reading the book If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
by Charlotte Kasl, which is a great read for anyone trying to introduce more love and spirituality in their life. She has a version for married couples, as well. I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now, and I'm glad I picked it up!
This is not your typical dating book that describes how to attract someone by acting according to certain rules, dressing a certain way, or playing a particular part. Instead, the basis of this book is that the only way to ever truly attract a genuine spiritual partnership into your life is to love and accept ALL of yourself (yes, even those parts that you don’t particularly like!) and allow your partner to love and accept those sides of yourself as well. With the divorce rate being as high as it is today, I would venture to say that most marriages and relationships are NOT founded on this premise! Instead, relationships are usually more about finding someone to "complete you," to fill up the holes in your life, and to take the blame if you're not happy. What about taking responsibility for your own happiness, though?
I’ve been in my fair share of relationships where both of us did our best to show the other person how desirable we were, while blatantly hiding and denying any “negative” characteristics of ourselves that might find their way into the relationship. And if we did ever expose any “dark” sides of ourselves, it certainly wasn’t our fault! It was always the other person’s fault for causing us to act in such an ugly way. Ultimately, though, relationships like these never work because sooner or later the less-than-perfect aspects of ourselves always show up, whether we like it or not. At that point, either person A begins to run away so person B doesn’t see their "dark" places, or person B pulls away because they are uncomfortable with the dark places person A is showing (not accepting, of course, that they have their own dark places as well!).
I’ve known since I was a very little girl that I don’t want just any marriage. I want a deeply spiritual, life partnership, in which I am free to be me, ALL of me. Obviously, this also means that I will support my partner in being all that he is, good, bad, and ugly! Sure, we’d all love to live in a perfect world where we're always happy, constantly loving and kind, faithfully living our true purpose, etc., but most of us are not living in that world on a daily basis, myself included. I have very up days, and I also have very down days, very scared days, and very angry days. I’d love to have a partner who sticks by my side and supports me, even on the “off” days. Personally, I find it very attractive when a man can admit he’s scared or feeling weak or powerless, no matter how macho he may appear on the outside!
In light of the recent Tiger Woods saga, it seems especially important to remember what’s important in keeping a solid relationship together. Even with all the money in the world, good looks, unmatched career success, and a beautiful wife and kids at home, Tiger’s life and marriage is obviously not all it’s cracked up to be. I wonder how much of his situation comes from a reluctance to show and admit weaker sides of himself because he's trying so desperately to present an image of perfection to the world. I definitely remember seeing photos of his wedding and thinking to myself, "Wow, he really has it all!" It seems that in his quest to uphold his image of a perfect life, something went seriously wrong.
It takes a lot to open up to those parts in ourselves that may be particularly scary or painful. In fact, some of us may have hidden those parts of ourselves so deeply inside that we begin to uncover emotional scars still lurking from when we were five years old! It can be a bit startling to realize that something that happened to you when you were five years old is sabotaging your current relationships. The trick is in learning to practice compassion and kindness for yourself, and accepting yourself for being human. We all have good points and bad points, strengths and weaknesses, and successes and failures. Learning to make friends with all the various places in yourself and accepting them will not only allow you to develop a much stronger relationship with yourself, but will help you in attracting a spiritual partner who will also love you for all your good points and bad points!