No matter how much we have experienced the beauty, bliss and ecstasy of our inner core in meditation and life, there still emerges a front line of service in the area of intimate relationships. We could seem enlightened to the whole world, but in the kitchen with our partners, sometimes a simple gesture or look can crush us – sending us cascading into a forbidden space of despair, isolation or hopelessness.
Why is this?
Are we withholding a part of ourselves, or is there some kind of devil’s valley between the inherent, unconditional unity we know is there, and the celebration of love, intimacy and togetherness?
Called poetically the “valley of the shadow of death”, this area is pure shadow-land of all the transient forms of creation. It is a shadow-land because for all the tremendous beauty of creation and being human, and being here now, the transience – or passing away of it all – is inherent to that same beauty. Physical life is so much more precious, because it will end, sooner or later.
This means that we could have the perfect partner – one who is fulfilling, nurturing, and emanating unconditional love and care. Yet this partner, in this form, WILL leave us – or we will leave them – if not by choice, then through ageing and death. This death bell is ringing moment by moment through every relationship. We can only kiss the joy as it flies - we cannot hold onto it.
If we bring this transience to the microscale, it is happening also moment by moment. Perception through beauty is made possible through the realization of the transience of what is perceived. It can’t be held onto, fixed, or defined, it always escapes. In a way. at the same moment we are in love, ecstasy and joy, we are also are abandoned, releasing all forms, moment by moment. This is part of the dance of being here together.
The opening of the heart is a layer of form. Many of us can recognize that even when we are really angry with someone, the love is the same as it always was, is and ever will be. The heart can close for good reason, such as maintenance, grief, the need for a deeper movement inside (like closing the door to meditate). We are still here, on both sides of the closed door. It is important to allow this natural rhythm and movement of the energetic body.
Now here is the bad/good news. What to do when we meet despair? We need to let ourselves be, also in that, not rejecting a particle of it.
Let’s quote one of the greatest lovers and poets of our times on togetherness:
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
~ Khalil Gibran
Intimacy is the opposite of loneliness. Unity has no opposite. If we can truly allow this internal loneliness, and this despair, we create the existential space out of which intimacy and love can re-emerge from a deeper truth, purity and strength. When we can allow the pain of separation, we allow also the opening and clarifying of perception. And it is only through perception – through our consciousness and awareness, that we can hold this beauty of the “other” for a moment of eternity.
When we truly allow our despair, we are already walking through the valley of the shadow of death, moment by moment, towards the source and truth of all we are – a source which at core casts no shadows. From this source, all creation is reborn second by second in all its splendour. The despair itself will bring the perspective in which gratitude emerges, and the celebration of all those manifestations through which the togetherness of the relationship is formed.
If there is a need for our relationships to evolve, change, or reform, then this valley will reconnect us with the source from which all forms are arising. We won’t even need to do anything – just allow the evolution.
Georgi Y. Johnson is a spiritual teacher and author of I AM HERE – Opening the Windows to Life & Beauty.