Recently, I came across an excellent story on the true purpose of relationships. Of course we always want to notoriously draw a definition on anything that’s human and inexplicable by logic… However, this one definitely caught my eye. Have a read and reflect back :)
In a land far away a beautiful princess was about to get married to her dream man. She had been told he was the perfect man. Full of love, compassion, strength and intelligence – and of course handsome as hell. She was so happy. The wedding day came and went, the whole kingdom celebrated and all was well. The morning after an equally wonderful wedding night, the princess brought her new husband tea and biscuits in bed. He smiled, ate, drank, told her how deeply he loved her and then slapped her flush across the cheek. They had not lied, he was strong and the princess was knocked to the floor by the force of the blow. She was dazed, in pain but mostly just in shock. What was more surprising was the shock on the husband’s face. He was even more bewildered.
The husband convinced the princess that he was just as taken aback by what happened and was genuinely sorry. His kind eyes and sincere tone clearly indicated to her that he was telling the truth so she forgave him and they moved on. Some years passed and soon both forgot the ugly event, until one day just as suddenly it happened again…. Whack! Then, soon after it reared its ugly head again…. Whack! Now it was too much for both to take and so they decided to seek counsel. Being royalty, all the best medics were summoned and consulted. Various theories were postulated and several cures were tried. Calming oils, exotic herbs, exorcisms, but every so often… Whack! It would happen again.
Desperate, they finally went to see a mysterious sage who lived high up in the mountains and was reputed as the wisest medic in the land, but one who would rarely accept an audience. After a long, hard journey they finally arrived at the sage’s cave. He was sitting on a rock outside in deep meditation so they waited patiently. Several hours later the sage opened his eyes and noticed the couple and much to their relief agreed to speak to them. He led them inside and then heard about the problem. At the end of the narration he asked to see the husband’s hands and closely inspected his palms. Once done with the husband he surprisingly asked to see the princess’s hand and carefully began to check her pulse. Finally he looked up smiling and said, “I will tell you what is happening here, but in exchange you must not refuse me what I ask.” Anxious to have this mystery finally solved they both agreed.
“Well, my dearies”, said the sage still smiling and looking at the husband said, “You sir are a great, healer. Your hands contain great power and you my dear princess have a terrible disease that keeps re-occurring every so often. By slapping you he has been curing you of this affliction time and again. If it had not been for those slaps, you would have long perished by now.” What relief they both felt. Overwhelmed by what they heard they fell to the feet of the sage and tearfully thanked him. As for the payment, well the husband wound up and laid one directly on the sage…. Whack!
What is the point of this story? Relationship produces pain for you so that you may awaken to what needs to be worked on within yourself. In the case of the princess she was lucky as the pain was benefiting her without her knowledge, but in most of our cases we need to utilize the suffering caused by the relationship to inspect closely the disease of our attachments. The pain, upset, discomfort caused in the relationship helps to reveal the attachments we have and the inner working of our minds. It could be as simple as feeling bad for not being complimented on a new dress or as complex as getting upset with your partner for giving away too much to charity. All the upsets, big and small, simple and complex have their roots in our attachments. The attachments could be to security, money, sex, power, prestige, name, fame, religion, children, family, country, comfort, food, etc. It does not matter, our relationships, specially the intimate ones, will poignantly reveal them to us.
As long as we have these attachments, and they are strong within us, we live in fear and misery. Afraid of not getting that which we want, afraid of loosing it if we have it and fearful of those on whom we depend on for their fulfillment. Any relationship upon which you depend for your personal gratification and security will eventually lead you to the mess of anger, control, possessiveness, jealousy, fear and hatred. This is relatively easy to see if we watch relationships in action. So measuring the strength of one’s relationship by the level of attachment is quite silly. In fact, life will not allow such relationships to endure and by producing a few storms she will eventually tear it down and force a new one to be built. On the other hand, when two self-sufficient people meet, adore each other and enjoy each other’s company we have the makings of something special.
Seeing the trouble that attachment brings and realizing that love and fear cannot coexist, what can be done? Change your attitude towards relationship pain. See it for what it really is, an opportunity for insight. Insight into the working of pleasure and its child – desire, or pain and its child – fear. The way of insight is through delicate observation. When any upset occurs watch closely how you react to it. Watch closely how the storm of thoughts start to take control. “I can’t believe he did this again, he does it every time, I have told him so many times before, he knows how important this is for me, he is so selfish and inconsiderate, I bet he would not treat his mother like this, why doesn’t he change, I am never going to speak to him again, … I am so right!” On and on thought takes over and one is caught in the chaos. This is childish and won’t help at all, and the worst part is that a golden opportunity is being wasted. An opportunity to observe the self in action and perceive the root cause of the attachment. Have you ever tried to observe the actual feeling, the physical reality of what is taking place without interfering and without getting carried away into all the mental threads? By doing so, you will allow the fact of what is happening, anger, jealousy, fear, etc. to reveal itself to you in its complete detail. This is to understand by direct perception and allow insight to blossom. This is the only approach that will root out and weaken attachment. Any other reaction on your part to suppress the feeling, or run away from it, or replace it with good feelings, or psychoanalyse it, etc, will simply leave the underlying causes intact only to have the outburst happen again when the time is ripe.
The princess had cancer, which was cured by life through her husband; life tries in the same way to cure the disease of attachment that we are afflicted with using our relationships. Observing carefully our internal reality, that is reflected in our relationships, is the beginning of meditation. And meditation alone brings freedom and self-sufficiency. Relationship provides the most useful opportunities for applying ourselves in this way, so be ready, prepared and poised the next time you get Whacked.