If you think about your own experience with relationships you may notice that relationships are often more a source of difficulty than they are a source of love. If you think about this, it’s not just relationships with our mates that I’m talking about. We have difficulties with our parents, with our children, our bosses and co-workers, and we even have difficulties with our friends. What’s interesting is that, considering the amount of suffering that comes out of relationships, the Buddha did not add relationships to his short list of sickness, old age, and death, as the primary causes of suffering. But there is one things that’s certain that we can all verify this for ourselves, relationships will often push us right to the edge of where we are personally stuck.
As Ezra Bayda introduces this Tricycle Retreat teaching, he explains that it is critical that we “know our expectations” in relationships. So often we THINK we know what it is we want, but when we work with our minds through practice and contemplation we will often see that our motives are not quite as simple or clear as we may have thought they were. In response to this teaching a participant asks,
In this vein, I have a couple of questions: once we’re able to break through the illusion of what a relationship is and what it is supposed to provide us, what do you think we’re actually promising when we make a commitment to another person? And what is the measure of a good relationship?
to which Ezra responds,
Those are big questions, and they’ll be addressed in the next two talks. The answers depend, in part, on whether or not you look at your relationship as your spiritual path instead of just a way to feel good. Once you take on this bigger view, the commitment is to waking up—which means a willingness to work with whatever comes up and learn from it. In this context the measure of a good relationship is not just personal happiness (although we shouldn’t ignore this) but to what extent it’s a vehicle for inner awakening.
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