Why is it we have the image that enlightenment or living in soul consciousness is incompatible with being in a romantic relationship? Is it centuries of unmarried clergy living a life meant to reflect the choices of spiritual leaders such as Jesus? Buddha was married. Muhammed was married. And yet, when I speak to people about the purpose of romantic relationship (in the context of spiritual partnership not traditional relationship), they remind me that truly accomplished spiritual people do not have a romantic relationship. Some even tell me that being enlightened makes it unlikely you can find a compatible person for relationship.
Like any newly spiritually inspired person, I have spent a few months now believing I do not want a relationship. I have not done well in traditional relationship, and I now know it is because I must be in spiritual partnership first and foremost. In a healing ritual, I burst out in tears, acknowledging that I did not want a relationship, and that I feared that lack of wanting one would mean I would never have one. My wise healers reminded me it isn't true, that I can leave space in my life for a relationship when I am open and ready for that. And as much as that advice made me sigh in relief, I found myself unable to envision the type of relationship that would interest me. But, I have left space for it; in my soul is the knowledge that I want and that I embody romantic spiritual partnership.
Often, people turn to these relationships to experience love, to be in love. I have had profound experiences of being love, being inside love, during meditation. The sense of love emitted from opening to love. I suddenly saw that love was me, I was love, and that I could sense that same love in other beings at the higher levels of themselves.
"And it’s interesting that as long as you are under the illusion that what you are loving is “out there,” you will always experience a separateness. It is only when you begin to understand that if you and I are truly in love, if I go to the place in me that is love and you to the place in you that is love, we are “together” in Love. We start to understand that what love means is that we are sharing a common state together. That state exists in you and it exists in me.
Now the enlightened being… what happens to him is that he changes the nature of his love object from a specific love object to it all, finally. You would say that an enlightened being is totally in love with the universe, in the sense that everything in the universe turns him on to that place in himself where he is love and consciousness. So I would say that an interpersonal relationship that has any qualities of possessiveness in it, or ego drama of any kind, certainly undergoes changes as the nature of consciousness changes..."- Ram Dass, 1971 lecture at the Menninger Foundation
With all this "in love", then what is the purpose of romantic relationship? One teacher tells me that it is a deep preference for how he wants to live, and so that is what he is attracting. I am not so sure that a deep preference is enough for me, although I would acknowledge that I too have a deep preference for romantic relationship. So I started to separate out the soul relationship from the interpersonal one. At the level of soul, I have started to feel a contentment with all relationships, and can be moved deeply by simple gestures and kindnesses from others. I take joy in being part of the interaction. I do not find myself feeling lonely any longer. I enjoy companionship, and I enjoy silence.
So why romantic relationship? If I can be happy with interpersonal relationships because I see the soul in them, why this inner call to romantic relationship? I think the answer is about harmony. I think for me I am striving to bring a harmony between my soul work and my heart work. It is a version of the swirling energy of Shakti and Shiva. Some say that our romantic relationships are where we do our healing. I think there is something more than even that at play, because we can be triggered and do our healing in all relationships - we just open ourselves more in the romantic relationship. And at some point, if you move past ego drama, is there still a purpose in the relationship? Spiritual partnership often is described as a relationship that exists until all the growth that is possible is done. While that is true, I wonder how two conscious souls can truly ever be done?
"Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don't understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human's needs," he says. "The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom - but less contentment." - Dalai Lama
I think the flaw in the view of spiritual partnership is the idea that two people will stop growing together, and that this is true and possibly inevitable. I suspect this depends on why they came into spiritual partnership. If one is truly committed to awareness and enlightenment, this process will not stop. The experience of energy, of movement, of opening and loving continue in so much as both people maintain their commitment to that process. And it is the interpersonal relationship that becomes the ground whereby all the experiences necessary to move into deeper consciousness will manifest, as long as that is the founding belief of the relationship.
Do I want passionate encounters overwrought with physical desire? No. Do I want a man who must always be touching me, who must talk to me every few hours of the day? No. I love a partner who is committed to his consciousness and his purpose. A partner who walks on the beach with me and tell me about the energy he feels from where the moon hits the water. I love a partner who will hold me when I am crying, but who is also recognizing my truth as I release the energy of those tears - not letting me identify with the source of the pain. I love a partner who co-creates with me. A partner who sits back and watches me, and when my eyes catch his, it is consciousness greeting consciousness. For that relationship, there is infinite space in my heart and in my soul.