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What happens when you fall in love? After a while, the soap opera begins, you start demanding. When you start demanding, the love diminishes. The joy fades away.
So then you say, “Oh I have made a mistake in this relationship.” Then there’s struggle and pain to get out of that relationship. After getting out of it, you get into one more; and the same story repeats.
Love is essential in relationships, not mere attraction. In love, there is submission. This is the difference between love and attraction. Though attraction forms the first step, you cannot remain on the first step for too long. You have to move on to the next. That is love.
What is it that you want to know about relationships? It is really to see how it can be long-lasting. Isn’t it?
Three things are essential in any relationship:
- Right perception,
- Right observation, and
- Right expression.
Often, people say nobody understands them. Instead of saying, “No one understands me,” you can say that you have not expressed yourself properly. If you speak Russian to a Spaniard, they probably won’t understand. Right perception can happen when you see yourself from the shoes of the other person and look at the situation.
Right perception, and then right observation. You may have perceived right, but how do you react? How do you feel within yourself? Observing your own mind is the second important aspect. This observation—observation of sensation, observation of tendencies, and observation of patterns within you—is also essential.
Perception of the other; observation of oneself, and then, right expression. Expressing ourselves in the right manner.
What We Learn in Life
The whole life is a lesson of just these three things: perception, observation, and expression. Every mistake you make is really not a mistake; it’s a learning process of the three vital aspects of life.
Perception needs to be expanded. Don’t just see someone from outside. If someone is grumpy or a little finicky, we hold them responsible for their behavior. But if we see from a wider perspective, many aspects will come up: that person is grumpy for some reason. That is reflecting in the relationship, widening our lens of perception. Not just accusing someone for what they did, but rather than accommodating them and seeing them in a larger picture. This will help in the relationship. This is the first secret.
Don’t Just Give, Allow to Give Also
Second aspect is to give. At the same time allow others to give also.
Suppose you are doing everything but you don’t let the other person do something in return, you are taking them away from their self-worth. Sometimes people say, “Oh! See, I did so much but still that person doesn’t love me.” Why? Because they feel uncomfortable. Love is when there is an exchange. And that can happen when you give them an opportunity to do something for you also.
This needs a little skill. We have to be skillful in making the other also contribute without demanding. The only way we know to get someone to do something for us is by demand.
This has to be done more skillfully. In a relationship, see that the other also contributes to your life so that they don’t feel completely worthless. For love to blossom, self-worth is essential. This is the second important secret.
Don’t Crowd In, Move Back to be Close
The third aspect of a relationship is giving enough space. When you love someone, you don’t give them any breathing space and this can be suffocating. Suffocation destroys love. Respect each other’s space. Take some time off.
The ancient people knew this. They had this practice of sending the wives to their mother’s place for one month in a year. That one month created so much longing.
For love to blossom, there needs to be longing, and longing needs a little space. If you destroy longing, if you don’t allow longing in your relationship then love does not grow. The charm is lost.
Treat Love as a Dessert
And the fourth aspect is that a relationship should be treated as a dessert, not as a main course. If your life is aimed at some goal, if there is some goal in your life, some aim in your life, then you move in the direction and the relationship will move along too. If all your focus is just on your relationship, it will not work. And it doesn’t work. You can’t have a dessert for your main course.
Have a goal in life, have an aim to do some service. Sharing and serving would enhance your ability to love, your ability to accept. And if you have that as a goal and both together move in that direction, there will be no problem.
Service is an essential ingredient for a successful relationship. And if the relationship comes from the space of giving rather than need, it is a good relationship.
Often we get bored. When you’re centered, and let go of your feverishness, you’re not bored with yourself; then your charm is long-lasting. That is the secret of being centered, being connected with the self deep within us.
Ananda once asked Buddha, “Buddha, for 40 years I’ve been watching you day and night. But what is it? I can’t get over you. Everyday you’re more charming. Every moment I see you, you’re ever new.”
That is the nature of our consciousness. Mind is not a stagnant lake; it is a flowing river, a fast-flowing river. So when we float with the river, when we are in the moment—every moment—not just brooding over the past or anxious about the future, we are ever new.