I believe Shambhavi is now teaching in Oregon. She has a great website called “Living Tantra” and the following is an interesting piece that appeared on the site about Relationships. 

Several students and Living Tantra readers have recently communicated frustration with their relationships. The rising heat must be getting to everyone, inflaming our pitta and our irritability levels.

Here’s a snapshot of how love relationships often work.

Many people begin new relationships in a state of pleasurable projection and idealization. This is called “falling in love.”

The funny thing is, we really are falling. . . into fixation and compulsion. Ha ha!

We make up rose-colored stories about the other person, and the beloved returns the favor and paints us in rosy-colors, too. We are very, very interested in how similar we are to the other person. “We are one person,” might be something that makes us feel safe and comfortable. All differences are underplayed or banished.

Then, one fine day, you, or your partner, or both of you, experience a pain.  You notice something or feel something that cuts rudely through the stories you have been telling yourselves and each other.

Suddenly, you are irritable and arguing. Or feeling unloved and abandoned. A sense of separation has reared its head, wearing your favorite mask: anger, disappointment, self-hatred, jealousy, and so on.

As if you were on a speeding train, you have zoomed  from the Happy Town of Idealizing to the Not-So-Happy Town of Demonizing. You have entirely skipped over the City of Realizing.

We have an idea about relationships, what we like and don’t like. This relates to our karma: how we are configured in this life. We have many expectations of ourselves and the other person.

We have a picture, or a map, in our minds of what a relationship should be. This applies to any relationship.

At first, we mainly notice the features of the map we have projected onto the situation. Later, some details of Reality come poking through like wild-growing plants taking over a garden of plastic roses.  These wild, unstoppable growths are actually great gifts from the City of Realizing.

How beautiful to experience Reality unfolding in ourselves and our partners! How interesting! How extravagant! Out of the suburbs of projection! Onward to the City of Realizing!

Of course, our attitude is far from this.

Instead we are annoyed, angry, and sad. We feel bitter, cheated, scared, or unmasked. Someone has got to be at fault. Someone is to blame. We desperately try to stomp on invading Reality, or pretend that everything is still coming up plastic roses even though we are miserable.

Maybe we go to a couples’ therapist. We define ourselves more clearly. We tell stories about our childhoods. We communicate our needs.

We “work” at our relationships, soldiering on, learning to “accept” and “compromise.” This is what we call “getting real.”

Now, a Tantrik relationship looks a little bit different.

First of all, we know from the start that everything is fine. No one is doing anything other than expressing Shiva nature. There never is and never can be anything wrong. Everything is that Reality.

We are even interested in how the other person expresses Shiva nature. Wow! So much variety! Astounding!

We expect the other person will “do” being human differently than ourselves, and we are curious about this. Duality is about the play of differences. We discover Shiva nature in this play.

Second, we aren’t in it to get our needs fulfilled. We are in it to Self-realize. This includes enjoyment, but we are not looking to sink into the numbing security of the Happy Town of Idealizing.

Our relationship is another opportunity to Self-recognize, not a cocktail break from our sadhana.

Neither are we using our relationship to construct the Town of Demonizing. We take responsibility for our life. We don’t just meet someone and then dump all of our emotions, frustrations, and responsibilities in their lap. We know that another person is NEVER the reason why we feel bad, don’t have the job we want, lost our keys, or go ballistic at the sight of fingerprints on the bathroom mirror.

We take 100% responsibility for our way of showing up in the world. Why? Because we know that our reactions are the result of our own tension. We try to relax our own tension rather than blaming or manipulating the other person.

This doesn’t mean we put up with any kind of harmful behavior. Not at all.  We look at everything without flinching and take appropriate action. We use our situation to grow. We don’t waste our energy stupidly trying to make an unworkable situation bend to our needs and will.

The most important point is that we have some direct, embodied understanding that the other person is an aspect of Self, just as we are. No matter what, no matter how differently we express ourselves, we are in the same boat. We are each, in every one of our actions, somehow expressing the desire to realize our true nature.

As I’ve written before, everything we do is an expression of the desire for realization, even when things look the opposite. A person who overeats sweet food is only longing for the sweetness of life. The person lashing out in anger is trying to connect in spite of a painful sense of separation. The person who has difficulty taking risks and is fearful about new things is expressing a desire to find a true home.

We see the other person’s dimension as simply one way of expressing the single desire that guides all life. We respect the other’s dimension for what it is, one of the infinite expressions of Shiva Nature, whether or not we ultimately choose to remain in its orbit.

We know that we have our unique dimension, too. We all suffer from an experience of separation, and we all want to realize our true nature. It just looks a little different from person to person. This understanding brings greater compassion, generosity, and kindness into relationships.

People in Tantrik relationships pay less attention to their stories about the past, the present, and the future. We try to experience our relationships from a much wider perspective than “my  needs,” and so on. We’re not so concerned about finding the perfect mate, or “falling in love.” 

Like everything else, Tantrik relationships are a form of experimental play. Think of improvisational jazz rather than a heavy classical symphony. We work with our actual circumstance and pay attention to each moment and the opportunities each moment brings to relax our tensions and enjoy a fuller, less limited Reality.

OM Shanti,
Shambhavi

 

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