PART FIVE: Who Makes A Meaningful Partner?
You’ve all been told by others what you should look for in a romantic partner.
We’d like to ask you: How can ordinary beings possibly know what is best for another person?
Certainly, others may feel they know you very well, but why should one person think they know what is best for another in terms of emotional well-being? Many people might believe that since they ‘love’ someone, they’re entitled to give this kind of advice. This is a myth that needs to be completely dispelled before we go any further into this chapter.
First of all, the people who give this sort of advice usually assume they know what will best make another person happy. Secondly, they assume they know what kind of person can provide that particular sort of remedy.
Nine times out of ten, these advice-giving people are just plain wrong.
(We’re referring in particular to American culture here.)
The reason these people are usually wrong is that they’re usually also making some incorrect assumptions about what constitutes happiness.
These people usually believe that two people, in order to be happy, must:
- Share a domicile
- Be physically near one another as much as possible
- Have many similar interests
- Have many similar opinions
- Like the same things
- Be of similar types of ‘attractiveness’
- Be of similar age
- Be of similar ethnicity (or ethnic preferences)
And then it’s considered a special bonus if two people can share vocational interests and economic status.
Those are a lot of criteria to meet, when really all two people need, in order to enjoy a meaningful relationship, is to feel true happiness together.
Now that sounds simple enough, but the expression ‘true happiness’ lead us to explore even more myths that need to be dispelled.
What exactly is ‘true happiness’, when we’re describing a relationship between two lovers?
Simply put, it is when two people can sit together and neither of them feels the need to speak.
We agree; this is quite uncommon. To clarify, we don’t mean the couple never speak to one another; that is, sadly, quite common. What we mean is that they can be content to sit quietly and enjoy each other’s company without feeling the need or compulsion to instigate any particular kind of activity between them (including sex). Now it’s certainly okay for them to engage in activity. To explain it in more technical terms, we’re looking for the possibility of an absence of the sort of quiet (or not) agitation that can occur between two people when one of them wants something from the other.
So we could begin to summarize by saying that two people are compatible when they want nothing from one another, but when you hear this, you know there must be something missing from the equation. What makes the difference between highly compatible lovers and disinterested acquaintances?
In a word: cherishing.
‘Cherishing’ is when you automatically want to do whatever will make the other person happy – at all times.
This sounds like a challenging goal for a relationship. But there are other factors that come into play in these very special types of relationships, and fortunately most of them are easy to spot early on in the acquaintance.
In Book One, we talked about how some people have strong karmic connections. These people have spent many lifetimes together, in different roles. They know each other well, and know what to expect from each other in terms of all basic types of behavior. When they meet, these people often feel a strong familiarity with one another.
This feeling of familiarity is one good indication at the beginning of an acquaintance.
A couple words of caution here: this feeling of familiarity is not always mutual (sometimes it is actually better if it is not), and it is best not to speak about it at first. Sometimes you get so excited about having found what feels like a long-lost friend that you fail to look for other important signals. Waiting to speak about this is also more respectful of people’s personal boundaries.
Another good indication of a strong karmic connection (which is one thing you’re looking for) is similar tastes in music.
This may sound frivolous, but let’s consider: what is music? Vibrational frequencies.
So it follows energetic “logic” that if two people enjoy similar musical vibrations, their subtle energy bodies are likely to harmonize, and this contributes to harmony in the relationship.
If two people also share similar likes in art of other forms of popular culture, this may also indicate harmony between them. This is true for two reasons.
First, various forms of art also employ elements with specific vibrational frequencies (color and form, for example).
Secondly, sharing an affinity for certain social connotations may indicate shared experiences and points of view from previous lives.
The last and perhaps most important, main indicator of possible harmony between two people is timing.
Some call this synchronicity. This is sort of like being in the same place at the same time or being in the right place at the right time. The reason this factor is so important is that when synchronicity occurs, you can be quite certain that Enlightened Beings are involved.
If Enlightened Beings are involved and forces seem to be propelling the two of you together, then the situation is worth a closer look.
Please be mindful that the timing principle also works in reverse: If you keep trying to meet up with a potential partner and obstacles keep arising, then you can bet that Enlightened Beings are involved in that too. In this case, a wise person will heed the warning, regardless of what other positive indications may fall in place.
Just because you’ve spent many lifetimes with someone does not mean you had a harmonious time together.
You may have noticed that, on the surface, the list of four positive indicators seems to have a lot in common with the list of myths that we said need dispelling. The important distinction to make is that the list of four items includes deeply karmic and merit-related components. So you might be tempted to say that two people with similar karma and merit are likely to be compatible, and this is in fact true.
But only Enlightened Beings can clearly see people’s karma and merit. So these four indicators give you some specific examples of how similar karma and merit may manifest.
Of course, you will likely discover additional guidelines for yourself, if you keep in mind that the most reliable indicators arise from similar karma and merit.
Knowing what to look for at first helps you get started with getting to know someone. But that’s only the beginning and it’s very important to remember it’s only the beginning. Knowing common interests gives you something to talk about and do together at first, but eventually you’ll want to move past that to more meaningful activities.
What are “meaningful activities”?
From the beginning you can assume that you’re on similar spiritual paths, or you wouldn’t have gotten past the first checklist. So if karma and merit have brought you together and you’re sharing a spiritual path, then everything you do together can be meaningful.
But from time to time you need to check in with each other and see if you’re still on the same path.
Many times a couple will start out on the same path but their paths may begin to diverge. It’s not uncommon for a quiet panic to arise when one half of the couple first notices this. At first it’s usually a subtle enough difference that you don’t think it’s worth mentioning.
As the divergence increases over time the silence becomes more awkward. Eventually the slight divergence might have grown into a gulf so wide that neither party can see the other side anymore. This is the point at which what may have begun as a blissful liaison between two kindred spirits may become reduced to a brittle bridge between two opposing nations.
What happened? It’s more a matter of what didn’t happen. In a word, communication. Most couples are of two minds unless they’ve been together for a very long time and over many lifetimes. Remember what we said at the beginning of this chapter? Assuming you know what will make another person happy is often the first of many subsequent mistakes.
So don’t assume that your partner doesn’t also notice when you two begin to diverge.
And don’t assume that your paths have to be identical.
And don’t assume that your partner is reading your mind and rejecting your new direction. Don’t assume that your partner is attached to their own path, and don’t assume that your partner doesn’t want to change course so they can continue to travel with you.
Unless the two of you communicate regularly and clearly, then all you do have to rely on is assumptions. So please try to agree (early on) to check in with one another regularly on this topic; make it as important as discussing what to have for dinner or which movie to watch.
If you start talking about it openly from the beginning, then you won’t have as many awkward silences later when things begin to change.
Because things will change. Your relationship doesn’t exist independently of your ‘selves’, and your ‘selves’ are constantly transforming. Your relationship is as empty as both you and your partner.
If you and your partner decide to start discussing taking vows (legal or otherwise), please remember that vows are also empty. We won’t give advice on vows (of any kind) because vows which are intended to establish a particular and permanent state of being are likely to become a source of confusion once the situation begins to shift.
Emptiness tends to shift.
Love and cherishing are empty too, and also tend to shift. But cherishing love by its very nature is flexible and often able to accommodate itself to the changing scenery along the path. If you have the good fortune to find a partner with whom you share a mutual cherishing love, flexibility along the path, and a similar level of interest in the path, then there’s a good chance you have met an emanation of your Spiritual Guide.
Sometimes spiritual guides send emanations who seem to function more to remind you of the path than to share it. These people might cherish you and be willing to go along with you, without experiencing the Path with the same level of intensity. They may be more or less interested than you in spiritual progress – that doesn’t really matter.
What you need to look at is whether they help or obstruct your progress.
Making spiritual progress with a partner looks and feels differently than making spiritual progress alone or with a spiritual community. Partners arouse emotions within you that are not likely to be evoked otherwise. People very often feel that they are mixing (in many ways) with their partner, and this presents some very unique opportunities and challenges for working with both Emptiness and grasping. If you are able to use these experiences to make progress along your spiritual path, then your partnership is a very meaningful one.
Later on in a relationship you may find that life events occur which may affect each partner differently. The birth of a child, the death of a relative, the purchase of shared assets, the loss of income… These events all tend to bring grasping to the fore of a person’s consciousness.
Any major change in life which has an element of uncertainty may cause grasping to raise its ugly head.
When this happens, people sometimes think it’s their partner that’s to blame for their discomfort. They mistake their own feelings of disappointment or anxiety for a lack of concern on the part of their partner.
When you see this put into words like that, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? And that’s how it feels when you’re in the middle of it. You’ve become anxious or upset about something, but so far all you can feel is that something is not quite right. And you want everything with your partner and you to be quite right. So you start looking to your partner to show you what’s ‘wrong’. And if you don’t find the answer quickly enough to suit you, you might begin to think your partner is what’s wrong!
Try this, please. When you first start to notice that vague discomfort, please try looking at yourself as the source first. Now, We’re not saying go into seclusion; continue to communicate openly with your partner about it.
We’re just saying don’t project the ‘problem’ onto them.
Feelings are as fleeting as thoughts and the weather. They aren’t concrete objects that are placed into your body by another person. They are as empty as your mind, because they’re part of your mind. Other people certainly affect your feelings, but they’re not the main source of your feelings. Your own mind is the main source of your feelings.
And the more you take responsibility for them, the more control you have over them.
We’re going to talk more about feelings in the next section; for now it’s enough to say that feelings can be much more confusing when you’re in a relationship than when you’re alone.