Relationships are like mirrors that show you what’s inside of you.
If someone makes you angry or irritated, it’s because there is anger and irritation in you. If you feel joy in someone’s company, it’s because she is bringing out the joy inside you.
Whatever comes out is what you already have within yourself. Without relationships, you wouldn’t be able to know or demonstrate your inner qualities.
While interacting with others, it’s important to focus on what you are thinking, saying and doing. In this way, you can use what you learn about yourself to polish your character and construct the type of person you want to be.
We are not meant to change or improve others, but only ourselves.
A sacred journey
Why do we need to improve ourselves? This is so that we can remove the impediments that veil our true nature.
We are essentially spiritual beings in human bodies on a journey to rediscover our true nature. This is the ultimate purpose of our lives.
In this evolutionary journey, relationships play a vital role in providing us the opportunities to bring out our spiritual essence as known as the Self.
Only our personalities need improvement. The Self whose nature is infinite love and bliss, is ever pure.
The spiritual masters of Vedanta tell us that this infinite bliss is what we are really seeking. It is right here within.
But we don’t experience it because we are preoccupied with looking for it in the wrong places— in worldly goals, objects and relationships.
And, we never find the perfect happiness because none of these things are permanent. Therefore, the happiness that we get from them is also impermanent.
When the happiness dies away, it leaves us feeling a sense of lack and incompleteness, which prompts us to look for more ways to be happy.
The hidden motivation of all our pursuits is gaining the bliss of our true Self. That’s why we never stop searching for happiness.
This happiness cycle of gain—loss—gain continues through lifetimes.
Relationship between the ocean and the waves
The masters of Vedanta tell us that we are like waves in the ocean that have forgotten that we are essentially the ocean.
Waves are born from the ocean, sustained in the ocean and merge back into the ocean at the end of their lives. It is their source.
Like the waves, our human identities and relationships are apparent and impermanent. Yet we go through great pains to gain and preserve these relationships only to leave them all behind when we die.
Instead of cultivating temporary relationships, it would be wiser to nurture a relationship with our source (the Self). So, when the inevitable parting with our loved ones happens, there is no sorrow, but only joy in returning home.
Love one, then gradually love all
Our journey to back to the bliss of our source starts with learning how to love and nurture a relationship with one significant other in our lives.
Then we have a family and our love grows to embrace our children and extended family members.
We then gradually identify with people outside of our family and thus enlarge our circle of concern
As we continue expanding our hearts to include more and more people, we grow and evolve our character. In this improvement, the selfishness begins to thin out and beauty of the Self starts to shine more and more brightly.
We’ve all seen the brilliant peace and love of saintly people like Mother Teresa or Pope Francis. The have lived their lives opening their hearts to love all.
So we start by learning how to love one person, then more and more people, and finally love and see the divine Self in all.
This will give us the highest happiness, the infinite bliss that is the ultimate gain that we are searching for, and the true purpose of our relationships.
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