Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Matters of the Heart

Reader Query:
You've talked in the past about relationships; perhaps I could entice you to explore this vein a bit more at some point. What does Buddhism have to say about the belief that someone is your soul mate? And how much do you sacrifice when you think that you've found that person? I know it's really a judgment call, but I wonder how much patience is warranted for someone who, as you've put it before, remains guarded and fears a relationship more than they recognize the joy that it could bring. I know she's struggling with this within herself, I just don't know how to reach her. I'm venting here, sorry. My dearest friends have all told me to move on, and yet, I stay, too much of a romantic or maybe just too stubborn. Anyway I'm thankful for any insights you may have.

Dear "Om Pal,"

It's clear that this dilemma weighs heavily on your heart, and with good reason. It can be very painful to love someone who can't love you back the right way. Many of us have been there. Speaking for myself, I've been on both sides- the one guarding and the one being guarded against. And, to be candid, I don't know which is worse. In fact, I can't pretend to know any of the answers because when is love formulaic? When do we ever really have the answers?

I only know the extent of my own foundering experience and what helps me keep my mind sane and heart steady when the storybook ending seems to be written in another language . . . on another planet . . . with an Etch-a-Sketch.

From what you say, you are stuck between a proverbial rock and a hard place. Option 1 is to walk away from someone you love deeply, and Option 2 is to stay in a relationship that is causing you both pain, on some level. You can seek the counsel of all your friends, engage a psychic, attend countless yoga classes, see a therapist, read innumerable books, and meditate every day for an entire year (I've done all of these in times of heartache), yet the answer does not come from outside yourself. Call it hokey. Call it cryptic. But, you will- I promise- someday decide what makes sense in your own heart and what, honestly, honors the love that you have for your partner. Ultimately, love should bring out the best in us, and our best is not guarded or pained or desperate or sad.

That's not to say that we don't feel these emotions at any given point in a relationship that might otherwise be healthy and supportive; however, one needs to right the ship sooner than later. If these feelings are the norm, we miss so much beauty, life, and adventure around us. Sacrificing your self to stay in a relationship isn't an effective way to live. As for the Buddha, I can't speak on his behalf, but I'll share some of his simplest, most reassuring advice, "Be a light unto yourself."

Perhaps you can stay in this relationship and weather the storm, all the while stoking your own inner light- maintaining a hurricane lamp, if you will. Perhaps you will move on and explore a different path within your heart. Neither is right. Neither is wrong. Love is not formulaic. It is, however, the reason we're here. Be gentle with yourself. Be truthful with your partner. Write your own storybook ending.

Other posts relating to love:
Zen and the Art of Relationships

How to Heal a Broken Heart


Anonymous said...

I've been parsing and reparsing this over the past couple of weeks, searching for cues and clues but the universe is much too clever by half, dammit. Which is the way it should be - the right answers can only come from within.

Today it hit me though, all I've been doing all along is wondering, worrying and waiting. This is not who I am and certainly not who I want to be. My world is wrought with laughter, hope and dance, overlaying a sublime, sartoric, observational wit(note: personal opinion, but I'll stick with it).

True love can only come from being who you truly are, it either works or it doesn't. If she wants to be with me then she'll find me - I'm the guy with the gleam in his eye looking for the next adventure.

Om Gal said...

Bravo! Namaste! Godspeed . . .