hope and fear in relationships

by Markfromcali 10 Replies latest social relationships

  • Markfromcali

    A 'friend' of mine just dumped his wife, who has basically been supporting him probably more than just financially. Without going into much detail, lets just say his thinking is not very clear. Anyway, I feel pretty bad for her as it came as quite a shock, and although they are probably just incompatible it just got me thinking along these lines, and I found this in the book The Heart of the Buddha by Chogyam Trungpa. I don't mean to post religiously oriented stuff which the word Buddha will no doubt trigger, but it is in fact quite down to earth and some out there may find it of interest. It's interesting as he contrasts a view based on hope of eternity and fear of death, and then notes a third way. That she didn't see it coming probably relates to the idea of hope of eternity, and he probably has been on the fear of death side for some time. These first quotes are on hope of eternity:

    Many relationships are formed on the basis of some common pain or some shared task.
    We tend to make a big deal of this pain or task: we make it the keepsake of the
    relationship. Or else we meet someone in circumstances of lively common interest where
    communication flows without obstacles and then we celebrate the smoothness as if
    fending off a common enemy. Either way, the pain or the smoothness develops a
    legendary quality in regard to the relationship.

    The idea of eternity has been misunderstood; it has been used to prove the profundity of
    our relationship, our deathless friendship. We tend to assume that something is going to
    go on forever, and therefore we venerate it like someone might venerate a piece of rusty
    fence wire known to have been hanging on a fence at a famous Civil War battle. We
    venerate it for its eternity rather than for its profundity. Ironically, it actually becomes a
    profound statement because of the basic truth of impermanence.

    And this part is on fear of death:

    Fearing the independent, spontaneous development of the relationship we try to ignore our actual emotions and independent will. Brave people do this semiconsciously by developing a sense of mission or dogma in the relationship. Cowardly people manage it as a subconscious twist.

    In general the brave strategy is less successful than the cowardly in creating an "ideal" relationship. This dogmatic approach can only succeed by continually making a basically illogical position logically believable to the friend or partner. Then constant maintenance of the magnificent edifice is required. The less brave but more diligent do the whole work without ever confronting the partner on major issues. Instead he or she continually puts off the sense of death onto a thousand small things. The partner forgets to put the cap back
    on the ketchup bottle, or always squeezes the toothpaste tube at the wrong end. The fault lies in all these little things.

    In spite of philosophical and religious beliefs in eternity, there is a sense of constant threat of death, that ultimately the relationship is doomed. Whether cowardly or brave, we are trapped in that actual situation, making a constant patchwork in order to survive.

    And on beyond hope and fear:

    The idea of relationship needs to fall apart. When we realize that life is the expression of death and death is the expression of life, that continuity cannot exist without discontinuity, then there is no longer any need to cling to one and fear the other. There is no longer any ground for the brave or the cowardly. One sees that relationship is the lack of any viewpoint whatsoever.

    We might think that such a relationship is only for the spiritually advanced, but actually it is just normal and ordinary. Any conceptual reference point becomes destructive. We actually begin to suspect that the relationship does not exist. But there is no need to worry: that nonexistence continues as a powerful breeding ground of further relationship. Such wariness is still a viewpoint, but it is one that is open to surprises, unlike living in the promise of eternity. It is also unlike complete mistrust, which does not allow the naivete' of relationship to flower. Whereas a covenant of trust breeds further mistrust, wariness of
    trust can bring enormously warm and genuine relationships.

    What Trungpa calls wariness of trust is simply relationship without the dogma of viewpoint, we might say living in an idea of relationship rather than IN relationship, just me and you and what's between us. It is like trying to conform the relationship into this conceptual box of how it's "supposed" be rather than just let things naturally be how they are inclined to be. This is not particularly smart if you look at it for what it is, you're simply not complicating the relationship with any kind of conceptual limitations, just being yourself, and letting the other person be who they are. You are actually doing less with your mind, so in a way perhaps not too "smart" for your own good, or the relationship's good for that matter.

  • bikerchic

    Mark I see it as a self fulfilling prophesy, that which you fear is what you create because the fear is the stronger of emotions the one that you gravitate to.

    It's commonly said by shrinks that marriage is all about unfinished business with your parents. The healthier you are, the more you've finished your past business with your parents the better chance of having a lasting healthy marriage. Can you see why so many teenage marriages fail?


  • Markfromcali

    It's been a while since I've been absorbed in the psych stuff, but I suppose in a sense it is a self fulfilling prophecy. However that is only the case because it is essentially an unconscious process, so I don't know if I would call it creation as it is really just that same inner impulse coming out in your relationship, it's never been really addressed or perhaps even seen and it is not an intentional action.

    As far as unfinished business with parents go, it would be a matter of individuation wouldn't it? To me the question is have you actually become an independent adult? And even at this point we're really not talking about what Trungpa is getting at, although it is just the way things are it implies going beyond your limited idea of being an individual. After all people continue to grow and change, and it is just a recognition of the basic fact of not knowing how that will go. But that doesn't necessarily mean you wouldn't stay together, it's only a problem if you are stuck on the other person being a certain way and that changes.

    So if it were to be put in a nutshell we might say it is unfinished business regarding your self - do you know who you are? This can be taken at different levels, the obvious one would be that of being a separate individual, but two mature egos might have issues too if one wakes up and realizes that's not who they are. (not that that's the case in the relationship above) It's not that either is better than the other anyway, but frankly a relationship based on egoic tendancies is very different from one that is based on things as they are. The funny thing is the latter can last just as long as one that is based on common tendencies, which would on the surface make no sense, but it's simply because it is based on reality. At the end of the day the ways one might be used to being, those tendencies is not as durable as it seems. It's just your tendencies, it's not who you are.

    Of course relationships change anyway, it can go from lover to friend or whatever - those changes can be healthy if one is not caught up in how things should be or just how they would like it to be. For example, sometimes I post these long winded messages, and sometimes I am not reading the board at all.

  • Satanus

    Did trungpa have sexual relationships?


  • Markfromcali

    Yes he did, more than one from what I remember. But this isn't about him, there are others who are in relationship and they agree. People want to look to examples, but your relationship is unique anyway, whether it's sexual in nature or whatever.

    In any case this info is conceptual in nature, which would also determine how meaningful it is to any particular reader. He is also speaking to a particular audience, when it comes right down to it the individual should recognize how the other is inclined to relate to people and not consider this to be better and try to force the other person to be this way. (which is of course the opposite of how it's supposed to work) That is possibly just an excuse for their own behavior and a sad effort to try to get the other person to accept how they are, taking advantage of the others attachment to oneself and essentially an effort to manipulate the other in the relationship by using this philosophy. Taken to the extreme it might be someone going "oh, you should be okay with me sleeping with other people, this is the enlightened perspective" whereas the reality is the guy is just an arrogant prick who twists this information to his own end.

  • redhotchilipepper

    I do agree that our parents at some point do come into our relationship. No matter how hard we fight it, we are a product of how we were raised as children. It always comes out in different ways. Hard to explain. I do think that we can change though, change ourselves and in a relationship. It is dependent on two people. Is the other person as willing. Hope and fear, will they get in the way or help the relationship to grow is my question?

  • LittleToe

    Interesting read, Mark.

    I think the religious nature of the contents can be excused, since you're hardly going for a hard sell with proselytization. There's plenty of "Christian" subjects on the go, so why not others?

    Breaking the cycle of fear is difficult for some.
    I like the axiom "fear only fear itself".

    There's a great quote from Frank Herberts "Dune", on that score, too, but I can't remember it word for word, so I shan't spoil it by botching it up.

  • frenchbabyface

    people continue to grow and change, and it is just a recognition of the basic fact of not knowing how that will go. But that doesn't necessarily mean you wouldn't stay together, it's only a problem if you are stuck on the other person being a certain way and that changes.

    Change is good (but you know what we are getting there / I was thinking about a tread on this topic) ... there was a time were our parents couldn't even choose their patner and still had to live all their life with him/her (men got lots of advantages out of that) ... I wouldn't sold my freedom for my partner / and I wouldn't ask that to him either (do we love each other or what ? We do not have to stay : "my" man and "my" girl, all life or we are talking about property ?

    The only persone I would sold my freedom for is my kid and ONLY IF NEEDED/DESERVED (not for bulshit) just because I'm responsible of him as his mother anyway for life ...

  • Markfromcali

    Wow, it's interesting to see how long winded I can be.. lol

    At the time when I posted this I was rather dismayed at the change in my friend's relationship, but of course that's his business even though it does kind of ripple through to my relationship with him. And naturally the same thing applies ultimately, even if it is not a romantic relationship.

    One thing that occurs to me is how much the intense emotions may get in the way of intimacy, and by that I just mean connecting with each other on a deep level. I mean when all is said and done, can we just be totally open to that other person we're in relationship with, is there that level of trust - you know?

  • frenchbabyface
    MFC : can we just be totally open to that other person we're in relationship with, is there that level of trust - you know?

    That?s the whole thing ? to me maybe it should not even be a question of ?trusting? but again freedom: to be, to change on things that is anybodies right/own business. Even, if it means the end a the relationship (which in this case is not a cut but a gift when it?s well done, with respect).

    Most of issues in between a couple comes frome things that we won't change (otherwise the probleme wouldn't be there) or things that have changed and that the other one is not supposed to like, and that you are affraid to / or can't talk about, that's how finally most of the people end up doing things (just like someone would suicide to get rid of a problem or to point a problem as for instance : cheating to make things worst, a kind of self-destruction ... A way like an other to talk/saying/obtain something.

    Being Jehovah witness and as a child looking for my own little answers, I was thinking that as far as we were only supposed to fulfil the world (not more) ? that we were not dedicated to being married, being parents all life ? in fact it placed real friendship above love affairs ? which is still true to me somehow, cause it allows to understand the other one without this strange feeling or need of belonging literally to each other.

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