Shining World

Personal Relationships and Values

The phrase “personal relationship” brings to mind the exchange of emotion and attention with another on an ongoing basis. The quality of those interactions, especially with those closer to us, often dictates what we experience as the quality of our life. Most people would go insane without the benefits of relationship with others. Even “Vedanta people,” who are often pleasantly content in their own company sans others, crave relationship in one form or another at least occasionally.

Of course, not all relationship is created equal, owing to the values of the individuals involved. Some are emotionally rewarding and mutually uplifting, while others are draining, undermining, and burdened by co-dependency and fear. In fact, the idea of relationship itself has a built in – if hidden – element of fear, because relationship implies two. Where there are two there is no way to determine what is real, since everything is relative. Where there are two, desires and aversions, as well as opinions, inevitably conflict, and compromise becomes the only solution for maintaining peace. 

This works well to a degree, especially when the biases of each individual mesh pleasantly together and allow for a peaceful and loving coexistence, but when relationship is the primary source of meaning in our lives, danger lies in wait. Inevitably, compromise leads to resentment, blame, and lack of fulfillment because – in the end – only self knowledge satisfies. Fear remains fundamental to relationship because where there are two there is the unknown, and where there is the unknown there is doubt. 

Therefore, a truly successful relationship with another is rooted in the recognition that there is no other, or that the other is yourself. At least one individual in a relationship must not distinguish between their own internal world of thought and emotion, and those of the other. Without both individuals possessing a value for that viewpoint, the relationship itself becomes more important than the well-being and contentment of each, and an unfair burden is placed on external objects (the relationship in this case) to deliver happiness. 

If one’s values align with dharma, relationship with another is non-different from relationship with oneself. Relating to one’s own rajasic and tamasic thoughts, emotions, and tendencies is no different than relating to those energies in another, and problematic conflict (internal or external) can only arise when a predominance of one or both of those gunas is captaining the ship. 

When sattva is cultivated through dedicated practice of karma yoga, jnana yoga, and devotion, no thought, emotion, or disagreement ever touches the sacred heart of a relationship where non-dual love is the highest value. Self knowledge allows relationship to flow smoothly because it makes it possible to advocate fully for oneself and the other at the very same time, since the difference is non-essential. Then the idea of personal relationship itself resolves into devotion and surrender to Ishvara, and grateful acceptance of all results.

Your Shopping cart