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The alchemy of conscious relating

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Love is not the answer. It is the assignment.

Martin Luther King Jr.

There is probably nothing else on this earth as challenging as conscious relating. As there is surely nothing more delicious than the harvest we can reap from it.

From a tantric perspective, the commitment to conscious relationship that two people make when they engage into a couple journey, creates a secure venue as well as a daily framework for the practise of their on-going spiritual journey towards self-realisation.

In a tantric union, the myriad of relational dynamics that spring from the alchemy of the couple are used consciously as a means for sincere enquiry, understanding and transcendence of the defensive ego structure.(1) The couple’s dynamic becomes a primary venue for spiritual practice; and it is the responsibility of each member of the couple to ensure the cleanliness, good health and integrity of the space. In this context, the place that the couple co-habit together – be it physical or energetic – represents their worship space, the sacred temple consecrated to their spiritual unfolding.

In order for such a programme to succeed, it is imperative that the partners have a very clear mutual understanding as to the purpose of their joining. They must be allied in their ambition. A tantric relationship can only truly work when both participants are equally and fully committed. If there is a shared sense of purpose, there can be true partnership – and from there it becomes possible to navigate through all the conflicts, misunderstandings, confrontations and battles that all couples with steadfast commitment will invariably traverse. The couple must have courage, perseverance, trust and compassion; not only for themselves but also for their partner. And above all, they must have staying power. When the goal is divine union, and the way to it is through human communion, it is inevitable as we journey towards our destination to encounter all that is opposite.

Divine union is death for the ego, and no ego on this earth goes down without fighting.

The couple therefore becomes the lieu par excellence(2) for the discovery and investigation of all the means the ego uses to maintain it’s self-centred, selfish, uncaring and superior position in life. And as if this wasn’t already bad enough, any aspect of the personality that is out of integrity(3) will also eventually reveal itself within the relational dynamic. The beloved other, who we so willingly surrendered to in the beginning of the relationship, now metamorphoses into the most detested person we could possibly imagine. As long as the shadow selves are operational and have material to feed on, the couple will be tested to the limits of its endurance. Happily, the regularity of these bouts of warfare will usually diminish over time (but not so for their intensity!).

For the couple to survive the exacting alchemical process of emotional and psychological purification that tantric engagement demands, they must help each other in traversing the episodes of judgment, hate, anger, blame, fear, criticism, cruelty and despair that each of them is sure to discharge onto the other as they journey along on their way. It is exactly these sentiments with which the defensive ego builds its insufferable tower of self-protection. As negative emotions are expressed – into a space of consciousness, presence and tolerance established exactly for that purpose – their power is diminished, the tower unravels and the walls come down. More space is gained for love, trust, surrender and soul melting.

The couple that dares to journey together in consciousness, that dares to welcome, embrace and contain the shadow side of the human psyche is the same couple that will understand what it means to truly love, and be loved by, another. This couple will experience – and at a cellular level – the unsurpassable power of forgiveness as a healing and renewing force.

The ultimate challenge for the conscious couple is that of acceptance. If we can create a foundation for relationship that is based on tolerance, acceptance and bienveillance,(4) then the relationship will have what it requires for the full blossoming of both parties.

There is no gift we can give that is more precious than conscious, sustained and willing presence. In the temple of presence, the sense of internal security stabilises and trust deepens. As trust develops, it becomes possible to access and share vulnerability. And in vulnerability, we are capable of enjoying true intimacy. If self-realisation can be described as the capacity to enter into intimacy with all things, then the conscious couple is well equipped for experiencing the outcome of their purpose.

The path of the tantric couple is not for everyone. It is exacting. And it is confronting. But it is also renewing, invigorating, rewarding and very, very fascinating. It is one way to reach union. And if you are already in a loving and committed couple, it is most certainly a very practical way of going about reaching it.

Guidelines for maintaining the conscious couple(5):

  • Clarify your purpose in journeying together
  • Make clear agreements and then be sure to honour them
  • Share responsibility and also power
  • Transform yourself, rather than pushing the other to do it
  • Share regularly about your subjective reality
  • Nourish the couple with your external experiences
  • Be scrupulously honest and transparent; no secrets
  • Be clear together about money
  • Dare to be yourself
  • Acknowledge and praise your partner regularly
  • Spend time on shared projects
  • Train your couple in the expression of primal emotions
  • Make love regularly (whether you feel like it or not)
  • Go for connection rather than separation

The highest human love mirrors divine love.

Rumi

(1) It is this part of the personality which is primarily responsible for maintaining the illusional sense of a separate self, and it is this part therefore, which is a primary source of psychological pain, emotional suffering and spiritual melancholy.

(2) The ultimate venue

(3) Integrity here is used both in the sense of wholeness, soundness; and pertaining to honesty, moral uprightness.  

(4) Loving kindness

(5) Excerpt taken from the seminar ‘The conscious couple’, by Judee Gee & , 2003.

Judee Gee