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Families, Relationships, & the Pursuit of Enlightenment
"What role do families and relationships play on the Pathway to Enlightenment?"


I think that families and relationships are something that is really personal. How you deal with your family and friends is really up to you. Sometimes families and friends can be a very positive influence in your life, sometimes they are not. For example, I feel really blessed that I come from a family of highly advanced spiritual beings. My mother and I used to be friends in a previous life when I was a Buddhist Monk in Tibet. She used to bring food offerings to the temple everyday, and up to this day, her cooking is the most wonderful thing you can imagine. As I was growing up, my dad was a Rosacrucian, and he introduced me to the world of mysticism and Egyptian magick. My sister has always been very interested in the New Age and mental development. My other sister is a very devout Catholic, and my brother has also been very interested in these type of topics as well. I know that this is a very unusual situation, but for me, having a close link to my family has always been a very positive experience. Both my mom and Dad had the opportunity of meeting Rama in LA. Rama came out to meet them at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre one night. I thought that it was very unusual for Rama to come out and meet someone before a seminar, but he did it that night.

Relationships are the same way, they can help you or distract you on the path. I was involved with someone for a couple of years, who was a bad influence on my life. One time I wrote Rama a letter asking him what I should do. At the following seminar he came up to me and said, "I got the letter about your girlfriend, what's the real problem?" "I don't know how to let go," I said. Rama said, "when you let go of her in your heart, the relationship will dissolve." Then I said, "thank you" and Rama walked away. Relationships and families are hard to deal with sometimes. There are times in which we have to let go, and there are times in which we can join. How do you do it, is really up to you.



Relationships and Enlightenment:

"Unity itself is an action, reflecting all the way down to the physical. Unity, oneness, is a principle. It is enlightenment. Any movement in that direction is a movement towards enlightenment . . . "Rama

Of all the subjects that have been presented, relationships has intrigued me the most. It is something that , in 52 years, I have not been able to come to terms with. And yet, I know that it will continue to be a puzzle that I will continue to do research on.

As I see it, there are three elements that should be considered. Two are found in Tantric Mysticism and the third is found in the depths of the human psyche.

For the Tantric Mystic, relationships provide one of the most difficult areas to reconcile.

The Tantric aspect tends toward having a relationship. It seeks to reconcile the masculine and the feminine energy and merge them together in a concerted way towards enlightenment.

People who practice Tantra together can experience great awakenings and spiritual development. This combined merging creates such a force that spiritual development is rapidly accelerated and the two partners can really experience great and profound changes and transformation.

The Mystic has no problem with this. For the Mystic, this merging is an important, maybe even vital, method of accelerating one's consciousness.

The problem lies within the Occult and Emotional Bodies. This type of union can cause immense problems as the occult and emotional bodies of both individuals become intertwined. They then become the main culprits as the souls approach enlightenment.

It must be noted that, in the practice of the Tantric maneuvers, there are two souls, not one. As they blend and work together as one, readily giving and sharing their power with each other, they can never merge completely into each other. They are two souls that blend their essences to face and merge with Eternity. Unfortunately, during this process the individuals seek only to blend and merge with each other and forget all about that Eternity thing. If we are not careful, we will likely create some very powerful ties that can consume us.

The occult body has a difficult time letting go. Combine this with your partners' occult body hanging on just as tenaciously, and you have a recipe for mischief. When you put the emotional body into the mix it can, and usually does, spell disaster!

The emotional body seems to be very ‘self’ orientated. It knows what it likes and tends to have tunnel vision. In this was it is kind of like a very young child. To the emotional body, the experience of relationships, especially the sexual aspect, are strangely fulfilling and pleasurable (a very strong emotion). The emotional body quickly becomes protective and obsessed with this experience and the individual that it is associated with. This is where the control, domination, and manipulation come in. It takes the form of jealousy, fear, competition with others and many other nefarious acts of power.

Another aspect of this type of involvement has to do with the uniqueness or each person. Since we are all unique, we each take the awareness that we gain from enlightenment and run it through our structures. We all react and interface with it differently. No two people will move exactly at the same rate even though they may be on the same path. As the gap between our growth widens, the individuals place a tremendous amount of occult and emotional energy on "keeping" the relationship.

For these reasons, the mystic has a real problem with relationships. The question is, "How can one be free and yet hold onto another soul so tightly?" How does one maintain the unattached state of mind and still practice with a full and open heart?

Here I must get honest. I do not have an answer. Embarrassingly, there is a ‘romantic’ element in me that loves the whole ‘love’ thing. I find that the delight and sheer wonder of merging with a partner and then sharing life's experiences with them. It is all so extraordinary! I love the feeling of being in love. I must honestly admit that I do enjoy sex as a beautiful experience in and of itself. Seems to me, that sex doesn't have to be a ‘union’ with God or always be a ‘spiritual’ experience. It can be fun in and of itself. And, I must confess, that as destructive and painful that relationships have been, they have provided me with insights inside myself that I would never have faced or even known about on my own.

Edgar Cayce wrote that it is in our nature to seek to perfect our souls. We seek to be smooth, with no jagged edges. This is the reason we enter into relationships. Like putting rocks into a tumbler, our rough edges bounce and grind against the other rocks' rough edges. It is extremely painful and uncomfortable. As this is going on, we seek to be out of the relationship and escape the pain. That is why we seek to be in a relationship when we are free and seek to be free when we are in a relationship.

I have not personally figured out just how to combine all of these ideas and concepts together… Maybe I never will, but I can think of no other endeavor that interests me more than trying to solve this one.




The One light of eternity shines through the prism of this reality and creates countless strands of luminosity. You are one of those strands of awareness, and while you are always on a journey home to that one light, your dance is unique. That is why Rama was so eclectic in his teachings. He was giving you the ingredients to dance your own dharmic dance.

Hold onto that concept.

Rama said that we all know that middle age is a time for raising families, as opposed to raising the kundalini If you studied with Rama you must have heard him say in a variety of ways that attachments are obstacles on the pathway. Personal power, and energy levels which are necessary to move into heightened awareness were discussed at length. Relationships? Look to your closest relationships, because they can be the source of the heaviest "drains" of your personal energy. Rama was correct.

That is why he told serious minded students to examine and consider and reconsider relationships. Generally, they could interfere with the rapid changes that were part of the study with Rama.

I am not sure how Rama would evaluate my studentship. I know that some of Rama's students have judged me harshly, because of my life style. I was married when I met Rama, had two children, and lived in a wonderful home by the ocean. That remains the same to this day, except the kids are young adults.

This is a tough question for me, because I see the truth, value and wisdom in the single life. From my vantage point living alone with no distractions is clearly the easiest fastest past. I would tell you who have chosen that path, and live happily in that choice, that you have chosen wisely. However, I would be most cautious of "party-line" mentality in any practice.

"What's the difference?" One of Rama's favorite Koans opens the other side of the discussion. If you have only been a child, and never a mom or dad, you cannot imagine the amount of energy you expend in parenting. It is unbelievable. If it is your dharma to parent, there are some gifts:

1. An opportunity for selfless giving that is second to none.
2. Love,and compassion, expanded exponentially and continuously.
3. At first, ego development, extraordinaire.
4. Just wait, ego destruction, in infinite quantities!
5. An understanding through experience, that you have boundless energy.
6. An arena to practice continuous "cleaning" of your closets.
7. A reason to meditate, to find a quiet space, God knows you'll need it!
8. A sense of humor
9. A space to teach and practice, every day, every moment.

I am not suggesting that family is good, go for it, or bad, avoid it at all costs! I am suggesting that you are a unique strand of awareness, and Rama taught Self-discovery. Choose wisely, but remember, What's the Difference? It is all Grist for the Mill of your own awakening.






Leaving aside for the moment the question of what it means spiritually, the roles of family and relationships are changing a lot in society at large. Or it might be better to say that an old structure is becoming more and more "dysfunctional" without any clear replacement emerging as of yet. The old structure was that you were raised in a two parent family; spent your teen years and perhaps your early 20s in a number of dating relationships; and then got married yourself and, barring a tragic early death of a partner, stayed with one partner for the rest of your life to raise a new family together.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with family and relationships in some form, but the structure as it originally was set up is clearly disintegrating. There are many sociological theories for this. From a Buddhist perspective, it is disintegrating because it holds people back from Enlightenment. Why? Because to attain enlightenment, you need to go through a lot of different experiences and a lot of changes, and if you stay with one partner for so long, you get stuck in a particular mindset which makes it very hard to move forward spiritually. The high rate of divorce, and the willingness to try other alternatives such as gay and lesbian relationships or living independently, represents from a Buddhist perspective a spiritual frustration with an operating system which just can't make the grade anymore.

The old system was especially hard on women who wanted to reach Enlightenment because, while the men might have received at least a minimal level of empowerment through their careers outside the home, the system offered nothing at all to women who had to remain at home to take care of the kids.

The Buddhist point of view is very Tantric. You do what works. If that means remaining celibate for a period of time, you do that. If there is more power in coupling up, then you do that. If there is more power in a gay or lesbian relationship for you personally, then you do that. You recognize, and you look for partners who also recognize, that all relationships are temporary, and when the time comes to move on, you do so. And you do so without the anger that so often accompanies the end of non-Buddhist relationships: you part on good, loving terms and remain friends.

Sexuality can be a bit tricky, because in a lot of non-Buddhist relationships sexuality causes a loss rather than a gain in energy. It can be an energy loss for both men and women although sometimes in different ways. If you sense that a relationship is going to drain rather than empower you, you need to move on before you get sexually involved. You need to use your intuition on this one.

Raising children can be complex, because it involves a karmic responsibility for at least eighteen years which, contrary to what some people may say about Buddhists, is not something you can just walk out on. For this reason, most people who are really serious about Enlightenment will choose not to have children. But again it is Tantric. If it is your karma to have children, then you do that perfectly as you do anything else. And it is a great opportunity: the highest calling of all is to teach about the Dharma, and you will never have a better opportunity to teach about the Dharma than with your own children. Teach them what you know, and don't be attached to the results if they move on to something else when they grow up, because if you've taught them impeccably they will find their Dharma in this or a future lifetime.




Your family has the honor of installing your first set of emotional triggers. More triggers are developed later on in other relationships at school or work. The relationships you choose often reinforce the patterns that you learned from your family. That is, you will often select people that make you feel good in the same way that members of your family made you feel good.

While walking the spiritual path, we learn to reprogram our responses so that we do not fall into negative mind states. We begin to make friends that may not be anything like the people we used to be close to. During this process, our spiritual friends usually believe the same things, and thus do not put us to the test. These types of relationships are important, especially in the beginning phases of spiritual growth. We need to be validated in order to reinforce the knowledge that Enlightenment exists, that Buddha-nature is within all things and all people.

However, a visit with your family can reveal how much you've really grown. Often, after just a day or two with them, your buttons start getting pushed. Your family members know just what to say or how to say it to knock you off balance so that you give in to their demands. Remember, they put most of those buttons there!

Whether your buttons produce a slight irritation, a fist-pounding rage, or a flood of tears, it is an opportunity for growth. If you come from a family that is very interested in spiritual growth, the reprogramming of the buttons can be a fun process as each member learns a new way of dealing with emotional triggers. On the other hand, if your family has a different belief system, or is not interested in spiritual growth, it's usually better to keep your observations to yourself. Watch how you react, and if you've been knocked off balance, ask yourself how you could handle it differently next time. Keeping a journal can be an excellent tool to help you learn to maneuver through difficult situations.

Relationships within a spiritual community help keep us on track as we explore the pathway to Enlightenment. Other seekers can motivate us to meditate on the days we just don't feel like it, and they can help us see the brighter side of life when we're down. As the members of our group expand in consciousness, we expand. And as we expand, so do they. As long as the focus of the group remains on the goal, it is useful and healthy to maintain the relationships.

Sometimes spiritual seekers use the community to hide from the world. They only communicate with people who are doing the same things, who constantly validate their every belief. This is fine for beginning stage practice; however, eventually the seeker must learn to interact with the world and with people that do not share the same perspective. That's when the real fun begins, when you are strong enough to interact with others who do not share your interest in Enlightenment without losing your commitment to Light. This practice of continually finding Light in whatever and whomever greets you, is Tantra...and that's another topic for another day.



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