One of the most important tools you have in the potentially lifelong exploration of loving joyfully, in which intimacy is an awakening, is honesty – radical, uncompromising, totally compassionate honesty.
This may sound controversial – but it seems clear that in this modern culture it is less common to wish to love oneself, life and those we relate to than it is to want to do relationship ‘deals’ and play emotional games. Some people will do anything possible to be separate, powerful and in control. The manipulation may be unconscious or conscious. And if it fails, it is always possible to fudge things. Even lie or cheat.
In order to do these manipulations, one has to disregard the heart and soul and vulnerability of an other or others. One has to wear a protective overcoat of justification.
And many will simply watch this happen and say nothing or very little. Let’s maintain the status quo and stay ‘safe’ at any cost.
In conscious relating, between awake partners, and as happens in a Secret Garden circle, all your hopes, all your fears, all your petty or jealous thoughts, all your controlling manipulations, all your longing, are revealed in the clear light of awareness for your partner or a circle, or at least you, inside in meditation, to see. And the other or others do the same, offer the same gift of transparency and honesty. The intention for conscious relating will not work if there are rights reserved to mental or emotional escape routes forged in past formative experiences. It will not work if both partners or all involved are not impeccably and totally honest with each other.
And the reason for this radical type of honesty is that without it, the alchemical healing and opening and enlarging, which I would suggest relating and love are designed by nature to effect, cannot take place.
The dynamics of intimate relationship are rarely discussed in the main alchemical traditions -Egyptian, Daoist, Buddhist Tantra and Yoga Tantra. Past spiritual exploration has largely required a choice for solitude and has been fundamentally male in approach. Of course, times of aloneness and contemplation are at times necessary, for those too whose growth and transformation involves relating, whether through friendship, marriage, spiritual community, exploring with many lovers, deep work with a therapist or whatever the form in which intimacy is sought out.
Nevertheless, in the unfolding appearance, the evolutionary work of this century seems to invite community and intimacy with others and is a beautiful, potent, alchemical synthesis of masculine and feminine approaches to living spirit embodied.
As in all alchemy, intimate alchemical relating in any ‘form’ or lifestyle is about changing one matter into another -that is, changing your patterns, defences, deals and control games into another form. After a while, in relating, you may if you are honest to yourself notice you can get into ruts. The vibrancy and openness that existed at the beginning of the relationship can begin to fade. You tend to see all men or all women in the same ways. You may drift into becoming more or less unconscious, more or less dishonest, in friendships, relationships or with your spiritual counsellor.
It takes continual awakeness and intention to keep a relationship conscious and alive -and POTENT. There are so many reasons NOT to do this! Some I hear from couples or friends are ‘I dont want to hurt her’ or ‘It will create a conflict if…’ and yet this doesn’t come from innocence, underneath there can unexpressed be rage or fear of loss or vanity, and so on.
Many relationships die because partners or a community are either unwilling or unable to live the awakeness to sustain and grow them. Instead of experiencing the newness of each moment together, dullness and compromise can seep in over time. What used to be exciting to you -to your mind, that is, -is now boring you. Both partners may succumb to the dulling effects of unconsciousness. It can feel safe but it isn’t.
This is death to emotional and psychological awareness and insight and will deplete your own spiritual life as well.
For any successful alchemical happening, there must be a container within which the transmutation, chemical or emotional or psychological or spiritual can occur. In intimate relating, whether in a Secret Garden circle or marriage or partnership or friendship the container must be one of safety, committment to stay through to resolution, whatever is experienced, to stay with the process of destruction and re-creation, and gratitude or acknowledgement, that provides the reservoir for transformation. The alchemy within any relationship is concerned with each and every interaction that occurs between partners.
If there is a lack of safety or committment, this type of alchemy cannot happen successfully. If there isn’t a shared mutual intention, respect and committment to the process, and you have sincerely endeavoured to try to communicate with your significant other, it is actually a waste of your time and energy. Then you are best advised to focus your efforts on individual practice!
If you have been awake to your life inside and outside and you know what it is you wish to transform and you have the container of mutual intention and committment, the energy, the rocket fuel, to facilitate the transmutation is usually pretty easy to find -all your hopes, fears, limiting patterns and desires for the future will be the fuel.
The possibilities of childhood pressures, such as mildly unconscious, or overbearing, or hostile or even destructive parents, or in fact any event -even those that appear inocuous and without harm to others – are virtually endless, and so too are the psychological defences of the personality that can be forged from these types of experiences.
You and your partner, friend or co-participant may have different ways of avoiding transformation and intimacy. You may emotionally absent yourself. You may go numb. You may attack with sarcasm or worse. You may become proud and superior. You may become an automaton. You may retreat inside and go through the motions. You may physically separate You may refuse to relate anymore. You may numb yourself with alcohol or drugs or television. Your ways to avoid facing yourself may be very creative.
How do you put the brakes on? switch off? What do you do when you are about to feel something that you don’t want to feel?
Getting underneath the usual pattern to what you truly feel, and sharing that very vulnerable truth is the key to healing and insight and growth. So the deep down longed for transformation can begin.
None of this feels easy when you are in the simmering cauldron that you know will destroy your perceived self-image. It takes courage to keep being there! Few of us care to look fearful, deceitful, foolish, petty, greedy or jealous. There might be elaborate means to hide these feelings from yourself or others.
But in any intimate connection it is natural and appropriate and ultimately life enhancing for these old armours to come to the surface. It means that you are probably aligned with nature when it gets muddy for a while -remember then that the beautiful lotus is rooted in and nourished by the mud.
To undertake conscious relating with a chosen partner or in a circle is a sacred or ‘holy’ (whole) act which creates wholeness. This isn’t for everyone. You will feel the draw in your body, heart and soul if it is yours for this lifetime.
In the alchemical work of relating, you are invited to voluntarily offer the edges of the personality to the heat of interaction and aliveness. If you have the courage to be radically honest with yourself and each other and wholly vulnerable, in these searing moments, no matter what your early conditioning about how unsafe that is, the old limits to being love can be released. The gifts of aliveness, love and truth can be yours – in a moment of full surrender of all that you think you are.
I do hope to sit in a circle with you soon