“The higher the style we demand of friendship, of course the less easy to establish it with flesh and blood. We walk alone in the world. Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables. But a sublime hope cheers ever the faithful heart, that elsewhere, in others regions of the universal power, souls are now acting, enduring, and daring, which can love us, and which we can love.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friendship
What is true relation?  
   
       

A distinctive kind of relation is at the center of visionary, elemental society. There is no word for it, but it exists, or at least it has the possibility of existence. Faith in ultimate resolution requires it. The absence of such a relation is the ultimate in sterility.

a new relation

Great hidden entities are passing by. We are inexplicably connected to each other, through curiosity, longing, hope, and desire. Can we know each other? Can we love each other? Or are we doomed to be separate?

True relation is not just a feeling, which comes and goes, or an idea, which aims for something that does not exist. It is not loving or being loved, which are the experiences of beings that are essential separate. The actual connection is the truth of the relation.

Do you find happiness in the context of a person? Or do you actually sense and hold the eternal quality of the relationship, and is this primary? There is a fundamental and irrevocable choice: between superficiality and depth, narrowness and eternity. In silent recognition of mutual truth, a new relation arises. We perceive the truth of the other: what weakens them and what makes them thrive. And we join in reciprocal action to reformulate society on this basis.

There is a standard of the truth, quality, depth, meaning, and reality of the relation, and we have access to this standard. We want to cultivate this rare, wonderful faculty for perceiving relation. We all have this little understood and underdeveloped capacity, and we all catch glimpses of true relation. It is a component of the whole self, a precondition of becoming fully human.

 

breakdown

In the fateful day when a relationship fails the ever-present hidden truth is finally revealed. The whole structure suddenly collapses; but it is just the original flaw that has produced its effect by finally working its way throughout. What is revealed in the present must have existed from the beginning: a great pretense of a sacred trust.

It is one more blow to the spirit. The spirit shudders, and its power contracts. It can’t survive many such setbacks.

The flawed relations of everyday life are unavoidable. No matter how pleasant or passionate, the truth comes out. The underlying division of frustrated and separate selves cannot be overcome. Perpetual striving, collision of interests, festering of complexes: nothing permanent can be achieved by the wounded self. The truces, contracts, and bonds of frustrated souls cannot produce true love. Moments of engagement are fleeting. Betrayal, bitterness, disinterest, or just forgetfulness are perennial blemishes of the human condition.

A low quality of connection explains world fragmentation, too: injustice, inequality, and oppression. The wealthy executive or businessman, with lavish tastes, and the suffering sweatshop worker or poor farmer, are connected by their disconnection. The underlying problem is not in political, social or economic systems. These are just symptoms of a broken bond, which can be and should be inviolable.

reformulation of self

Our participation in the world is relation, and the nature of each relation is determined by the autonomous agents which comprise it. True relation is not just the mutual interaction. There is a formulation of the mind that makes true relation possible, and this is what determines the nature of the ensuing relationship.

The purification of the self is the precursor of true relation. It is the unwounded self – simple, vital, and capable of an exquisite sensitivity.

The best way to shatter triviality is to arrive with a pure heart that is given equally to stranger or friend. Asking for nothing and desiring nothing, pure and unfathomably deep, it is the most beautiful gift possible. It's a perfect counter-action to the superficial.

strangers

It is the way we interact with strangers that most clearly defines our identity and our capacity for relation. A stranger is a representation of all humanity. If our first reaction is desire or aversion, our whole original impulse is tainted. We want to use a person to get what we seek, or we view him as an obstacle. Not only our relationship with that person, but our fundamental and original attitude toward human beings in general is corrupted.

It’s your inclination at the first moment of contact with a stranger that reveals everything: the person that you are, your secret truth, your capacity for love. True love means that at the point of relation you bring to bear purity, depth, commitment and understanding.

You look at a stranger and smile; you look deeply into their eyes, without thinking anything, without wanting or expecting anything. When I am sulking and oppressed, full of myself and my own unmet needs, coming across such an expression strikes me like a celestial event. It is not the sensation of loving or being loved, but silent exchange of being, and access to truth and eternity.

 

conclusion

When flawed relations cease, authentic connection happens. The self is not annihilated, but at the moment of connection the isolated and deformed self is transformed.

It’s a rare phenomena, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the difference between a marriage contract, and soul mates who see straight into each other’s heart. It’s the difference between embarking on peace, and a thunderous peace which can never be questioned or shattered. It’s the difference between momentary contact, which culminates in separation, and the resilience of a vision and commitment that is infused with eternity.

When you go as a human being, you will find a human being. By purifying your identity, by perceiving the truth in each other, and by true binding of fates, deep connection becomes possible. It can be the source of action in this world: in daily life, in society itself.