In this excerpt from Polishing the Mirror, Ram Dass writes about the connection between relationships and emotions, and how we are all grist for each other’s mill of awakening.
From the soul’s point of view, you come to appreciate that each one of us is living out his or her own karma. We interact together, and those interactions are the grist for each other’s mill of awakening. From a personality point of view, you develop judgment, but from the soul’s point of view, you develop appreciation. This shift from judging to appreciating — to appreciating yourself and what your karmic predicament is, and who other beings are with their own karma — brings everything into a simple loving awareness. To be free means to open your heart and your being to the fullness of who you are because only when you are resting in the place of unity can you truly honor and appreciate others and the incredible diversity of the universe.
When I perform a wedding ceremony, the image I invoke is of a triangle formed by the two partners and this third force, which is the shared love that unites and surrounds them both. In the yoga of relationship, two people come together to find that shared love but continue to dance as two. In that union, both people are separate and yet not separate. Their relationship feeds both their unique individuality and their unity of consciousness. Love can open the way to surrendering into oneness. It gets extraordinarily beautiful when there’s no more “me” and “you,” and it becomes just “us.” Taken to a deeper level, when compassion is fully developed, you are not looking at others as “them.” You’re listening and experiencing and letting that intuitive part of you merge with the other person, and you’re feeling their pain or joy or hope or fear in yourself. Then it’s no longer “us” and “them”; it’s just “us.” Practice this in your relationships with others.
At a certain point, you realize that you see only the projections of your own mind. The play of phenomena is a projection of the spirit. The projections are your karma, your curriculum for this incarnation. Everything that’s happening to you is a teaching designed to burn out your stuff, your attachments. Your humanity and all your desires are not some kind of error. They’re integral parts of the journey.