Will your relationships with others create unity or isolation?

Our relationships with each other can be vehicles for our unity and they can be vehicles for our entrapment.

They can be vehicles for bringing us more into the universe, into the moment, into the flow of things, or they can be vehicles for isolating us more into our separateness. In my relationship with you, who I think I am affects who I see you to be.

Say I’m driving down the street and I’m in a rush to get to an appointment I’m a little late for. There’s a car in front of me that is slowing down at a corner unnecessarily. I experience anger at the person that’s driving. I swerve to go by the car with anger in my heart and I look and I see that it is an older, confused looking man who is lost, and then I feel guilt. My attachment to getting to my appointment made me see that person as an obstacle.

I go into a bank with a check to cash or a deposit to make. I walk in, wait in line, and get to the teller and who do I see? The casher of my check. I may go through a perfunctory smile, “How are you today?” “I’m fine, thank you.” “Have a good day.” Nothing happened. I stayed in my isolation, and the teller in his or hers. Now say I’m the bank teller; person after person comes before me. Now a deposit, now a check cashing, now a certified check, now a money order. All day long people giving me, “Hello,” smile, with a “Yes” or a “No.” I feel lonely in the midst of a crowd of people. These are not exceptional answers. They’re an example that are common to most of our lives much of the time.

In our efficiency to get on with life, we tend to see other people slightly as objects who are instrumental to our getting what we need.

If I am hungry, very hungry, I can’t help but look at you in terms of whether or not you are going to feed me. If I’m hungry enough, I’m going to look at you as to whether or not you’re food. The Donner party did. If I have a strong need that I identify with, everybody around me is going to be seen in relationship as to whether or not that need is going to be satisfied, and if not, they’re of no concern.

In the world of lust, you can watch people relate to each other, and you can see that as they walk down the street with lust, with sexual desire, sexual arousal, they look at other people, and they see them either as a potential, a competitor, or irrelevant, and if you walk down those streets, you will experience yourself as being seen as one of those three categories as well.

We each have these structures in our mind, these models of who we are, what we need, where we’re going, what we think it’s all about, and these models define what we see out in the world. Not only that, but they are what another person perceives from us, and we are continually getting caught in other people’s mind nets.

The projections out of their mind are telling us who they think we are in relation to who they need us to be.

-Ram Dass

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