When challenges arise in a relationship, it is very tempting to view the other person as an impediment to our own spiritual growth. This is especially alluring for those of us who consider ourselves “spiritual.” We begin to see them as in our way or preventing us from realizing our potential. We may come to believe they are less spiritually aware than we are and use that as an excuse to disconnect or check out of the relationship. Most of the time we are missing the very opportunity we need that can help us awaken, or discover more of our true selves. We are so distracted by the “trees” that we can’t see the path toward the Buddha right in front of our face.
The trees are the judgments we project onto our partners, such as their lack of spirituality or their lack of self awareness, and use as a reason not to love them as they are. After all, if they are not at our level of spiritual development and we shouldn’t be with them, then we don’t have to love them, right? This is where we often miss the greatest of opportunities. The path to our own awakening is through the relationship, not around it. They are likely exhibiting characteristics that make it challenging for us to love them and see the best in them, and this is our opportunity! The truth is that within our partners resides the Buddha nature, the Spark of creation, Divine potential, or whatever you choose to call it. However, they can only show us what we are willing to see. Let me repeat, they can only show us what we are willing to see. If we are only willing to see the trees then that is exactly what they will display to us. If we are willing to look more deeply and see beyond the trees, we give them the opportunity to show us the hidden treasures within the forest. But whether they choose to display them or not, transforming ourselves so that we are willing to their innate beauty and divine essence is the road to our own freedom.
The decision of whether to remain in a partnership with this person is a totally separate issue. Sometimes it may be best to end a partnership, but we can still love them and see them as a valuable expression of creation. In fact, our own happiness depends upon it. If there are giant redwoods, oaks, and pines in your relationship now, don’t forget that the Buddha is right there, just waiting for you to discover him.