The Role of Romantic Relationships in Spiritual Growth

the1soulwithin's picture



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Most of us value the companionship, love and the intimacy of having a mate but how do these relationships impact our efforts at spiritual growth? Those of us who take a mystic approach to spirituality and who may utilize a particular Sadhana or yogic technique, have most certainly come across the debate on sensory indulgences, life force control and the temptations of carnal pleasures.

Many spiritual figures such as Jesus, Buddha and other proclaimed enlightened persons are often portrayed as renunciants who’ve detached from worldly engagements. Buddha of course was once married but left that to pursue God-Realization. There are more accounts suggesting that Jesus indeed may have been romantically linked to Mary Magdalene but he clearly still fulfilled his life’s calling. Mohammed is known to have had multiple wives yet created an entirely new religion and Krishna is frequently linked to Radha, his supreme beloved as the ultimate of loves.

Many religions have promoted doctrines of complete abstinence in worst-case scenarios or significant self-restraint in best-case scenarios when it comes to sex. So why do the multitudes of people long for emotional and physical intimacy from others? What is that healthy balance of intimate physical expression and self-control? Is it possible that our romantic relationships can help us to grow spiritually?

Well many, in fact, have argued that romantic relationships are perhaps the best catalyst for spiritual growth. When we are romantically involved with another we tend to let down our guards and become vulnerable. Sometimes this may feel like a bad thing if we end up hurt or broken hearted. Other times when that love is reciprocated, it can feel like the best thing in the world. But does that type of “soul mate” love help us to spiritually grow or does it become a distraction in our growth and perhaps a hindrance?

I suppose this can only be considered in a case-by-case basis. In most marriages, many understand that their relationship consists of three-parts meaning the two spouses and God. It is pretty safe to say that if a relationship consumes all of your time, attention and energy then it is probably not helping you grow in a positive way. One may argue that even a negative relationship may teach us all the wrong things about another, and ourselves, but perhaps even that becomes a valuable lesson in the big picture.

A lot of times you can tell quite a bit about a person by the mate they choose. As they say birds of a feather flock together. Other times it seems that opposites certainly attract. We may wonder, “How did those two hook up?” or “What in the world did they see in each other?” As many of us have heard, some people enter our lives for a reason, season or a lifetime.

The bottom line is that each and every person is ultimately responsible for his or her own spiritual growth. Another person cannot make you “more spiritual” even if they are the primary reason you go to church every week, read spiritual books or practice yoga. Regardless of your actions, if it’s not in your heart then it is not true spiritual growth. Likewise, another person cannot make you “less spiritual.” If you hang with the wrong crowd and are dragged down into a horrible life then you are accountable for poor decision-making and the lack of will power to change yourself.

The real opportunity in romantic relationships, and for that matter any relationship, is to allow you a chance to “look in the mirror” at yourself based upon the dynamics of that relationship. If a relationship is fulfilling and helping you to reflect your highest self then it is a meaningful and worthwhile relationship.

If on the other hand, a relationship is constantly bringing you into negativity and frustration then you shouldn’t blame the other person rather you should look at yourself to see what you’re contributing to bring about an unhealthy relationship. If you can truly and sincerely say that you are “not the culprit” then you must ask yourself “Why am I continuing to engage in this relationship?”

The fact of the matter is that it takes two people to argue. If you have the proper peace of mind and even-temperament then no one can make you argumentative. And if someone is intentionally trying to bait you into anger or hostility then it is time you remove yourself from his or her presence and/or severe that relationship altogether.

The more you grow spiritually, the greater presence, peace and harmony you find within. And what you are within reflects in your outer life experiences. Those who have attained the ultimate Self-Realization remain in peace, harmony and bliss no matter what the outer world may be experiencing. They are not ignorant or unsympathetic to other people’s plights; they simply know that when a person finds the Truth that lies within, they will awaken to a new realization that all troubles, worries and concerns pale in comparison to our divine spiritual essence. Hence the ultimate romance is between the conscious union of the soul and Spirit!



shond's picture

Great piece. This is a

Great piece. This is a subject so many spiritual seekers get confused about.

I have noticed throughout the years (in myself as well as in fellow seekers) that frequently spirituality is being exploited to avoid relationships, to avoid confronting the inner and interpersonal barriers that prevent us from engaging in true relationships.

shond | Tue, 05/07/2013 - 12:57
Asanga's picture

Wonderful!

Really well expressed. Thank you.

I am, yet I am not...

Asanga | Wed, 05/08/2013 - 15:02