Good afternoon. This is the conclusion of the discussion on the subject of relationships. So far we have discussed relationships in terms of the way in which we use our own emotions in the context of a relationship and also the way in which the experience of self-deception takes place. We have said that emotions, no matter what they may be, are not something that just happens to us but rather something that we actually create and something we use strategically for a particular purpose. Emotions are purposeful in that we use our emotions, anger, jealousy even guilt - for a particular purpose. A lot of the time the purpose is to solidify, to re-organize our self-image, our sense of ego. We have also discussed the notion of self-decception and how it comes about that a lot of the time we would rather deny having any particular knowledge about what we're doing, what we're actually up to. We pretend that we're doing this or that. By denying our knowledge of it, we are solidifying our ego as well as using self-deception.
Basically the way in which we have to overcome our emotions and see through our self-deception is to observe and witness the experiences as they arise so that we begin to see the habitual responses that we've established. A lot of the time, even though we use our emotions strategically and purposefully we're not aware of it because we begin to deceive ourselves and this is how self-deception has come about. To be able to re-structure our life and our perception of the world is of course to be able to see through our self-deception so that we can use our emotions, still strategically, but in more fulfilling and constructive ways so that we stop using certain emotions altogether, because they don't serve the purpose we wanted them to serve. For instance, resentment, guilt and spite have no use at all and we've been deluded into thinking that by fostering and getting fixated on these we're creating a particular self-esteem or self-image as the case may be. We begin to see the uselessness of making use of certain emotions and begin to make use of other emotions as well as seeing through the habits that we've performed in terms of the way in which we have organized our lives through the use of emotions.
As we begin to see that we're capable of doing that we find we don't have to rely on someone else to get us out of our own mess. By witnessing our emotional experiences, it doesn't mean that we have to rationalize them or intellectualize them but simply be able to let ourselves experience whatever experience it is that begins to manifest and not give any interpretations about that particular experience, not put any labels on them but rather just simply try to get a first hand experience of them. Sometimes when we look at our emotions and try to learn something about them what we do is immediately
rationalize them. As soon as we begin to do that we set up a different kind of defence that helps us not to really look into the whole thing personally and
intimately. We just look at our own emotions as if somebody else is looking
at them. In this way we distance ourselves from our emotions and rationalize and
intellectualize them, put all kinds of labels on them and simply push them away.
In this particular context however, what the person is supposed to be doing is to look at each single emotion as it arises and just simply make it present itself to us because if that happens we might realize varieties of things. In fact we would be able to see through self-deception itself. For instance, we might be able to realize why anger has arisen and what sort of situation has created it. When we're subject to self-deception it's very difficult to see what it is that has actually made us angry. Usually even when we get angry we just deal with the symptoms, we don't deal with the problem that has actually made us angry. As a result we distort varieties of situations and experiences through our interpretations. In the relationship context, what this witnessing of one's own experiences does is that the person begins to get more and more in touch with himself/herself. Consequently there is less of a barrier between the person and the other person because the barrier is nothing other than the inept use of the emotions for our selfish reasons as well as the construction of varieties of self-deceptions which have distanced ourselves from ourselves and from others. As long as we're alienated from ourselves it is very difficult to be intimate with somebody else. By getting more and more in touch with ourselves we become less alienated from ourselves because we're not so much caught up in these games and plots and the whole drama begins to become more crystalized; a little more transparent so that we can begin to see what is actually going on inside us. Eventually our vision becomes a bit clearer and we can see the situation a bit differently and we begin to see the other person somewhat differently as well. That also means that we'd be able to let go more and more and not get fixated on different experiences and just brood and become more resentful because everytime resentment comes our awareness, that we've generated, makes us see ourselves while we're committing the act so to speak. It's like catching our reflecton in the mirror while committing a crime. We see what we're doing and we do not have to suppress or repress anything. When we begin to see ourselves being resentful then we begin to see there's no need to carry that out, there's no need to get bogged down by resentment and if we begin to see ourselves being spiteful then we begin to do the same.
As we've been saying emotions are skills that we've learnt it's just a matter of learning new skills in terms of emotions and to make use of them in different ways. Of course, that can take time but gradually we begin to use our emotions in that way and begin to become acquainted with what the emotions are all about, then we can make use of emotions for our own benefit rather than in a self-destructive way. Even though our emotions are used for our self esteem we've not been able to see ourselves and what we've been doing and
see what's been happening in our head and consequently we've misused them. Through this misuse of the emotions we begin to destroy ourselves and sometimes we even use self-condemnation as a way of providing a certain kind of identity for ourselves. The interesting thing is that we can put up with tremendous punishment that is being given to us by ourselves but when it's being given by someone else we've got no tolerance at all. Often we've even got an explanation for why we did that - we have to constantly justify why we're doing self-destructive things. We do this in varieties of ways, not just emotionally, but even physically. We might have very strong opinions about people drinking alcohol for example, but of course all of us have got some indulgence, we have to explain the indulgence. While however, the other person's indulgence is bad healthywise, psychologically and spiritually our own indulgence is quite different. We do the same with our emotions. Even indulgences become self-destructive, begin to become much more comfortable and tolerable than to be really able to face up to certain truths, because it's much more comfortable. The interesting thing we discover is that if we stopped treating ourselves the way we did then life would be that much easier to live. We always think that it's some external situation that has caused our misery and of course there may be a lot of truth in that but much of it comes from inside and this is what Buddha meant by saying the condition of life is suffering and suffering comes from craving, which exists in one's own mind - the povery-stricken mentality which we were talking about previously - so it becomes a self-perpetuating thing.
When we begin to witness our emotions as they arise and let go of them then we begin to realise the nature of the contingency of things. This means that we cannot hang onto things because things are never permanently certain and varieties of unexpected situations arise and they come and go and we have to be able to cope with that. Normally we want to have something certain, something permanent, and so in a relationship we always look for something definite and permanent, but that cannot be found because the relationship itself is based upon contingency, an impermanent situation. I think our relationships would be far more fulfilling if we didn't make them into something permanent
and something desperately certain. This brings about all kinds of anxiety and suffering in the relationship - maybe this will last, maybe not, maybe it is real, maybe it is not, maybe the person loves me, maybe not. All kinds of things come up which would probably make a separation less painful than the actual relationship that is happening. We try to make something solid and in the process of doing that we lose touch with our relationship. We're so busy trying to work out what is going on that we lose sight of what is actually happening out there in the relationship. The other thing of course is to see that there's nothing definite or certain in a relationship at all and we have to be able to face up to that because if we don't then when the relationship begins to flounder
then we begin to go beserk and think something completely unexpected or unfair has happened. We have to be prepared for the most unexpected thing, then every moment becomes enrichening and worthwhile. However, if we constantly project ourselves into the future and look at the conclusion of different things, then we forget about the situation itself as it's happening. If one begins to do that then I think even relationships can be as basis for spiritual practice.
Mostly people tend to think that having a relationship is one thing and doing spiritual practice another. A relationship can be a perfect opportunity for one to be able to become less narcissistic, less self-oriented and more open and able to use the relationship to be more open outside the relationship as well. There are a lot of possibilities - once the person begins to de-construct the notion of ego and one's self-deception, the person gets a clearer picture of the whole thing. The reason why possibilities arise is because one's responses are not dictated by habit; there's much more spontaniety and there are a lot more choices that one can make, that can arise. Usually when one can make choices, those choices are dictated by habit and we end up making the same choice over and over. As a result we end up having a relationship with the same kind of man or woman over and over; we end up in the same situation again and again and we think it's happening to us, but we make the choices. However, the choices are so entrenched and habituated that we can't get away from that.
So the less habituated we become then there's more possibililties in terms of what can happen in a relationship. It can become more spiritual. Milarepa said that usually a man goes through three stages with a woman. He says that at first he would see her as a smiling goddess, the second stage is to see her as a nagging bitch and the third is as a devouring demoness. Whatever we might think about Milarepa's assessment, I think that it's true that often in a relationship nothing has changed but because of our interpretatons, because of out expectations, because of our insecurities we see the person differently and we project that all on to the other person. In fact we've created varieties of images of the other person instead of seeing that as one's own projection and seeing what one wants to see in the other person.
Basically, it all amounts to letting the other person be and not demanding that the other person be like this or that and projecting all kinds of things that are lacking within oneself onto the other person. When one begins to see it that way, then of course the notion of ego and narcissistic feeling begin to loosen up as well because as we know the story about Narcissus that he fell in love with his own reflection - his face on the water. In a similar kind of way all kinds of selfish and self-oriented attitudes have got nothing to do with the person that we are but, it has to do with the image that we have of ourselves. So selfishness is part of creating the self -image rather than doing something to ourselves are we actually are. So overcoming that particular sense of strong self-orientation and selfishness is the basis for any relationship at all.