Gaining independence by becoming fully aware of our roles and responsibilities is a prerequisite to having deep and meaningful interdependent relationships. But does being independently aware mean that we should impose our perspectives and understandings on others? Should we assume that others would be ready to accept our independent awareness? How then should we be interacting with others?
A cup half-filled could be deemed half-full or half-empty depending on the experiences of the observer, and he or she could decide to do nothing about the situation. However, to someone who is independently aware, he/ she could decide to pour away the contents in the cup and start all over again. This is the difference between wisdom and knowledge. In the same context, it is always wise to consistently reassess your feelings and emotions about your relationship with others.
The number of responsibilities we choose to undertake in each of our roles impacts our emotional well-being and spiritual outcomes. Over-performing or underperforming in any of our roles often lead to long term consequences. Making the right choices, therefore, attests to our spiritual understanding and awareness, and helps align us better with the teachings of the Divine. Making the right choices also produces better outcomes with others because the interactions tend to be more truthful.
Most relationships do not reach a pinnacle or achieve their full potential due to fissures in the interface: it is something he/ she said or should have said but didn’t say; it is something he/ she did or should have done but didn’t do. If only we were machines, programmed to say or do at the appropriate times or moments. Perhaps then we won’t be in this predicament now? We put so much value in the words we must say or the things we must do, that we have forgotten the true intent and meaning of our relationship with the other person. It becomes almost like a possession as if we are an owner who wields power over an inanimate object, to have and to hold forever. Unfortunately, the other person is not without feelings and emotions, and he/ she can decide to either close and bottle up within or let it all out on a whim. One could only imagine the consequences.
When we achieve spiritual independence, we will also possess a greater clarity on each of our role (i.e., Circle 1) and its associated responsibilities (i.e., Circle 2). Independent awareness means that these two circles must coincide as one, as described in Cultivating Nobleness (Independence) if we were to be successful in our relationships. In short, there is a complete circle that encompasses the appropriate responsibilities for each of the roles that we need to fulfill in this life. For example, if your gender is male, you are a son, husband, son-in-law, father, father-in-law, and grandfather, etc. And if you were born female, you are a daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother, etc.
How do we interface with others in the roles we play? For example, should the circles of a wife and husband (i.e., the role & responsibilities of a wife vis-a-vis the role & responsibilities of a husband) be disjointed, overlapping, or coinciding? Or should one of the circles be residing within the circle of the other? What do you think will be the long effects of the relationship in each of these scenarios?
We could make some guesses: in a disjointed relationship, there are no common interfaces to sustain the relationship for the long term and hence, a stymied relationship results that may continue over many lifetimes as we have seen in many Karmic readings. This type of relationship also tends to be transactional in general, rather than transformational as relationships should be. Naturally, the disposition to extramarital affairs is also high in such relationships. On the other hand, emotional competition is rife in a coinciding relationship as each party tries to assert importance on the other, but none realising that the underlying sense of importance stems from their reliance on each other. If one falters, the other person’s world will also crumble because nothing else seems important anymore without the other person.
Dependency is the keyword in a residing relationship. The person whose circle is fully enveloped by another is fully dependent on the other person. In other words, he/ she doesn’t live an independent life but is emotionally, and physically, dependent on the behaviours of the other person. Condescending treatments that are akin to emotional blackmail tend to arise in such a relationship. The treatments worsen over time as the behaviours of the strong are further reinforced by the victimised mentality of the weak, thus prolonging the agony of the relationship.
In a disjointed, coinciding or residing relationship, there will always be comparisons, jealousies, mistrusts, distrusts, insecurities, lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, overconfidence, pride, arrogance, self-centeredness, ego, etc., because truly, the blossoming spiritual qualities of each person are suppressed by one another. It is highly likely that neither has achieved the independent nobleness that is necessary for successful interdependent relationships. In such situations, it is always necessary to reassess our fundamental understanding of our existence in relation to the people around us.
In a healthy relationship, the circles must overlap; the amount of overlap depends on the need and growth of the parties at any point in time. In other words, it should adjust appropriately - never too little, and never too large. An overlapping relationship doesn’t create dependency on each other but recognises that each of us has other roles and responsibilities to fulfill in this life. It accords sufficient space and time for self-reflection and personal growth, as well as interfacing with loved ones and others. It is the way that is envisioned for us to develop deep and meaningful relationships, and for Karma to be neutralised. As you begin to recognise the power of overlapping relationships, you will realise that there are distinct separations between you and the other person, regardless of the number of roles that you need to fulfill in this life and with whom. This is necessary because we are unique spirits undergoing separate trials in this life, and held accountable for our own spiritual enlightenment. Notwithstanding our relations by birth or by law, or for decades have shared lives together, or have gotten used to each other, we are still different and unique by our spirit and hence, each of us must have space and time to contemplate about our existence. We can support each other, but we cannot carry the burden of realisation for one another. Only you can realise the futility of your mortal existence, and how helpless it is to continue grasping.
If there is no grasping, there is nothing to understand, nothing to prepare for, and nothing we must accept, because only nothing arises in the end.