I recently received a letter from a friend who has been going through a rough period in her life. She told me she had been single for a long time but a couple of months ago she met someone who seemed perfect for her, whom she shared a real connection with. But then all of a sudden, the relationship ended, for no clear logical reason.
The question she asks is why she keeps attracting such experiences, since it’s not the first time someone disappeared from her life suddenly, and wonders if there is something in particular that she should change about herself.
In my understanding, the reason we suffer is not because we are bad people or because life is bad, but it is simply because we mistake certain basic principles of life.
“I open myself to him with the idea of learning and hoping to grow spiritually together, showing him how much I appreciate him and making him feel loved,” my friend says. That is very beautiful and sincere, I know she is saying what she really feels and believes, but often what we feel and believe is not completely correct.
We don’t grow spiritually together with another person. We grow spiritually with ourselves, learning from whatever experience arises in our life. We don’t need a partner to grow spiritually, and we don’t need to NOT have a partner to grow spiritually. We grow by embracing ANY experience that life brings to us, partner or no partner.
The reason why my friend – and most people – wants a partner (other than the innate force to procreate for the continuation of the species) and the reason why her and most people want to make their partner feel loved is that we feel empty with ourselves alone and we want company in order to make ourselves feel better. Then, the truth is that we don’t really love our partners for their own sake but we love them for our own sake.
Of course there is another huge reason why we look for love and that is that WHILE WE ARE IN LOVE we do feel whole and complete and expanded and blissful and joyful and radiant and bright and satisfied and what not. And that is wonderful, and there is a lot to learn and experience from it. This state is like a window from which we can experience our real self… except that all these beautiful qualities are borrowed to us from that state, and they will go the moment we fall out of love, which usually takes between two months and two years.
There is nothing unusual in this. Most people in our society are doing the same. And that is why most relationships either don’t work, or they create more unhappiness than happiness in the long run.
Maybe my friend is actually very lucky because instead of taking years – or lifetimes – to realize this, she was given the opportunity to see it now.
It is not something easy to observe. It takes a lot of courage to be able to see that the reason we ‘love’ somebody else (I put love in brackets because this love I am talking about here is not real love, but it is the love that most people think of) is because we feel something lacking in ourselves and we hope that by finding somebody else we will feel complete again.
There are theories upon theories upon theories upon theories about how to have a better relationship, how to find the perfect love, how to become a great lover etc. etc. but they all miss the essence of the problem. They all miss the fact that the reason why we suffer so much with relationships is because our interest in loving is most often based on our need to feel loved, in our need to be fulfilled, in our need to be given from outside what we cannot find inside.
When we feel something lacking in ourselves and hope to find love in another, we become attached to our object of love. And when we become attached to our object of love, we become fearful of losing that object. And when we feel fear, we lose all possibility to be what we really are, and instead, we create an act that we hope will keep a grasp on our object of love. And when we grasp, we become beggars, beggars of attention, beggars of company, beggars of love.
To me, a relationship is not meant (as it is presented in much of our literature and movies) to be a place where we can complete ourselves. A relationship is a place where we share our wholeness, our inner love, our freedom. But this sharing is not a necessity, but something extra we bring to our already fulfilled life.
In my view, as long as we are hoping for another person to give us the happiness we cannot find in ourselves, we are going to suffer disappointment. It may take a few months, or a few years, but the disappointment will come.
Love is not outside, in the world, or in another person, but love is what we are. And for me, this discovery is one of the most important things we can do with our lives.
For my friend, what she is looking for now is love, but it could also be a job, or adventure, or more money or power or fame or even food. All these and many more are crutches people use to escape from the void they often find in themselves. There is nothing intrinsically wrong in any of these things, except when they are used as substitutes, as fillers of our own sense of purposelessness.
The sense that we lack meaning is not a problem, but a whisper of life telling us that there is something fundamental that we have not realized yet. And that fundamental thing is the discovery of our own inner fullness.
For me, the deepest meaning of our life is the realization of that freedom.