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Saturday, October 23, 2010

17 Practices for attaining success in the school of love – Bhakti Tirtha Swami

I love these spiritual relationship guidelines, I had to type them up and post them! :-)

"To develop meaningful relationships with members of the opposite sex, we must become whole human beings who have no need to look outside of ourselves for solutions. Instead we must learn to turn within ourselves and connect with higher spiritual realities. How do we make such connections? 

The following 17 points and practices, which summarize much of our discussion so far (in the book this is quoted from), offer guidelines for attaining the wholeness that can serve as a foundation for a strong, enduring relationship with a partner.

1.       1. Love is necessary for good physical and spiritual health.
Someone who is not part of a loving relationship is ten times more likely to experience chronic disease, and five times more likely to have a mental breakdown.

2.       2. Love is not a business arrangement or a contract with an escape clause for difficult circumstances.
We should not have this attitude or mood with our partner and surely not with God. We cannot approach the Lord in a mood of bargaining, and we should not begin our meditations and prayers with a long shopping list. Prayers of this nature are not based on unmotivated, unconditional love, and do not help us to develop the higher consciousness necessary to make us whole.

3.       3. Love is a decision that we can personally make at any time and under any circumstance.
No one has the power to make someone else love him or her, but each person can always give away love.

4.       4. Love is learning to love our true selves.
Those who do not care for themselves cannot love others deeply. The first love affair we must consummate must be with ourselves. One aspect of self-love is to observe four basic principles: no drugs or intoxication, no gambling, no illicit sex, and no meat eating. All these indulgences can weaken our basic constitution. The more we allow ourselves to live according to natural laws, the more we will become surrendered to the will of God. If we lack self esteem, we are refusing to see ourselves as children of God and do not have sufficient love and devotion to share with anyone else.

5.      5. Love is about a quest for wholeness, and if necessary, having a partner to share ones wholeness with.
People who think that some other person will make them complete, or people who are waiting for love to come their way will remain impoverished and waiting. The more we become loving and whole, the more we will draw similar connections from the universe.

6.     6. Love is not about two desperate people, who are only trying to find fulfillment for themselves, coming together to rob each other.
Two extremely needy, selfish people coming together cannot make each other happy. They are too busy trying to take and get something for themselves at the expense of the other.

7.       7. Love is a holy relationship in which partners come together to serve and reveal their weaknesses and strengths for betterment.
In an unholy relationship, everyone especially hides their weaknesses. Such people are normally interested in erotic love (lust) rather than responsible, selfless love.

8.       8. Love is really the energy and hunger of the soul. When we are asking for love, we are asking for a connection with the soul, which is part and parcel of God.
We should not expect love to descend on us like an attack of epilepsy. It must be rediscovered at every moment by transforming lust into love, thus connecting us with our own soul and the souls of others. We are all starving for true unconditional love.

9.       9. Love is seeing our partner as a gift from God. We must go beyond merely loving our neighbors as ourselves.
We should actually love others – especially our mates – even more than we love ourselves. When we love our partners that much, we realize that they have been given to us as gifts from God and that we do not own them. We are merely caretakers on behalf of the Lord, and our responsibility is to fulfill the Lords wishes concerning them. Any attempt to dominate them becomes distasteful. Instead we should make efforts to bring out their higher qualities – a practice that will bring out our own higher nature.

10 10. Love is seeing our mates as a pathway through which we can return our love to God.
The love we receive from our mate actually comes from the Lord, and our job is to send it back. Others channel Gods love to us, and we channel Gods love to others. The Lord is engaging us in play to see what we will do with His love. We can reciprocate Gods love by caring for our partners with great devotion, as if God Himself were present.

11 11. Love is sharing your realizations with your mate, which will help raise their consciousness as well as your own.
Then your relationship will become one of growth and acceleration. If you and your partner are not growing together spiritually, there will eventually be a breakdown in the relationship. Sometimes we fear surrender in spiritual life, afraid of having to give up our identity or afraid of losing our partner. But we should understand that surrender to the Supreme is an opportunity to regain our full identity. Without a spiritual dimension to our lives, we are not integrated and cannot experience deep love.

12 12.  Love is a relationship with your mate in which you visualize a triangle with points A, B and C. You are point A, your partner is B and the Lord is C – all of your activities are God centered.
Make an agreement with your partner to form this triangle as a permanent bond between you, so that whenever you meditate, chant or pray, you are in connection with your partner and with the Lord. You do not necessarily have to meditate together or think about the connection simultaneously. Your agreement will work any time and any place. In this way, you always keep God in the center of the relationship in all reflections and activities.

13 13.  Love is always viewing ourselves as love in action and carrying love wherever we go.
We want to be so filled with love that it naturally overflows to everyone we meet. In this frame of mind, we serve as representatives of the Divine in every aspect of our lives, consequently functioning as vigilant spiritual warriors. We can practice love in action through the breath. As we inhale we visualize ourselves absorbing the pain and frustration of our loved ones; as we exhale we send happiness, joy, love and peace back to them. Actually this is not just a practice to help those close to us, but also the entire world. We inhale; we are concerned. We exhale; we are breathing out love, compassion and healing. This is not just an idle exercise. It has a powerful impact, and if we monitor the process over time, we will witness the beneficial effects on others.

14 14. Love is about developing competitive, selfless relationships.
At first this may sound strange and contradictory. How can we talk about cooperation, sharing and selflessness, and then advocate competition? But, actually, no contradiction exists. In a spiritual context, competition means that we strive to be more selfless than our partner, seeing who can give more. We compete in reminding our mate about the Supreme and encouraging that person to move faster toward the Lord. The purpose of the competition is to assist one another in spiritual growth. This process is only for people who want to be spiritual, who seek higher experiences beyond the flickering pleasures of material life. Such a competition in selflessness encourages partners to remember why they are in this body – to become once again loving entities devoted to the Lord.

15  15.  Love is about offering the same quality of love you feel for your mate to everyone – but without the sexual component.
In other words, to extend to others the love you have for the most loveable being in your life. We may wonder how to subtract the sexual element. Just remember that sex and love are not necessarily synonymous. Our love for our children can be extremely intense without any sexual overtones. No matter what the circumstances, try to develop that same kind of love in each of your relationships. We all know the sweetness of loving just one person. Can you imagine how much sweeter it would be to have those feelings for everyone? Think of the loving exchanges that could develop, the reciprocation that would enrich our own lives and the lives of others. Unimaginable happiness, joy, and satisfaction would be our daily quota. We would no longer rely on particular individuals to give us this experience, because we would understand that we are really seeking God. The more we understand that God is in each person, the more we experience the Divine, and the more the Divine will make us whole.

16  16. Love is having or looking for a partner to heal the world – not escape it.
Normally many people seek out a partner to escape the world. They are miserable with life, and they feel that everything else can be tolerated or fixed if they somehow or other find that special person. We cannot heal the world if we are too wounded ourselves.

17  17. Love is about treating all relationships as practice in preparation for the ultimate relationship in the kingdom of God.
We should see all our relationships as God sending us a partner to fix whatever has to be fixed before we join up with Him eternally. This means that we should practice seeing our mate as an agent of God, recognizing our own divine nature, and remembering that we are children of God for whom great realizations and pleasures are available. Only in the kingdom of God will we find the love and the eternal relationships we long for so deeply."

Ref: Quoted from Spiritual Warrior 2, Excerpt from Chapter 6, Hari Nama Press, Bhakti Tirtha Swami

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