Beyond Separation in Relationship
The moment you find conflict with another, stop and look at what is really happening. The first tendency is to assert yourself in some way in order to be right and make the other wrong, control the situation or the other person, remove yourself from the other’s presence.
All of this presumes that there is a separate you and a separate other. These first tendencies do not work in relationship. Look back at your life and see this for yourself. They tend to build and maintain the false sense of separation.
In the moment you find yourself in conflict, instead of going straight to these first tendencies, take a moment of rest. Relax into the spacious openness of awareness. See that what you are in the most basic sense is this awareness.
In awareness, an assumption is happening. The assumption is that there is a self and an other in conflict.
So go look for the other. Is the other the thought of the person’s name? Look directly at the person’s name in your mind. Look at the letters of the name, one by one. Is THAT thought the person? No.
Get a mental image in your mind of the person’s body. Is that image the person? No. The person seems like something more than just a mental image, right? If the person stands in front of you, look at the image of the body, the shape, the colors. Is THAT the person? That image? No, it's just vision, color, shape.
If the other is something more than a mental image, color, or shape, find her. Look into the thought you are holding about the situation or person. Look at the “I’m right” thought, whatever it is. Look at it directly as you would stare at a star in the black sky of the night. Ask yourself, “Is THAT thought the other person?” No, it’s a thought.
Remember you are looking for the other person, the one you are in conflict with. You are looking for something more than just thoughts, emotions, and sensations. You are looking to see if there is indeed a separate person.
Rest as awareness during this entire looking. Notice your true Self as the wide open space in which all thoughts, emotions, and sensations are coming and going. Let them all be as they are. Don't try to think them away or rationalize the situation, in some attempt to be right. Yet if that rationalization happens, let it be there. Look at it. And let it fall away into restful awareness.
Go into the emotion in your body. Find it. Look directly at the energy of that emotion WITHOUT a thought about it. Ask yourself, “Is THAT emotion the other person?” No, it’s an emotion.
As you rest, see that what you took to be a separate person is not really there. There is only a thought here, followed by a thought there, following by a mental image. All of that is happening in the wide openness of awareness.
Now, go find yourself.
Find this self that is in conflict. Take each thought that you have about yourself in this conflict with the other person and see if THAT thought is you. If not, move to the next thought, then the next. Then look at each emotion, one at a time. See that each emotion is just an emotion. It is not you, the separate self.
Once you have moved through each thought, emotion, and sensation, rest as the spacious awareness in which all these things appear. See that there is no separate person there. There is only a thought here, following by an emotion there, etc.
Do this thoroughly each time you find yourself in conflict or in an ongoing situation in a relationship in which each person is attacking the other and defending a self.
Before you respond to the other the next time, see if the other is really there, as a separate person. If you cannot find the other as a concrete, separate person—that is, if you only find these thoughts, mental images, emotions, and sensations happening in awareness, then just rest as awareness, letting all these appearances be exactly as they are.
Notice that when you look directly at any thought, emotion or sensation, there is perfect acceptance of that appearance. You are allowing each appearance to be as it is. You are no longer trying to be right or attacking or defending. Yet if any of those movements arise, ask yourself if the movement is the separate self. See that it is only another thought.
People stay in conflict only because they refuse to really look at what is actually happening in their experience. Instead of looking, they act from the assumption that separation is real.
From that restful knowing of no separation, the right response comes. You can now stop thinking of conflict as something that happens between two actual, separate people. People only exist conventionally. They exist by way of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. This changes the way you respond. You don’t have to deny the “other” completely. Instead, you see through the separation. You don’t dismiss the other. You don’t dismiss the relationship. That goes too far. What are you dismissing? To dismiss an other assumes that there is an actual "other" there to dismiss.
You see that the relationship is there only conventionally, which means that it arises by way of thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
This seeing provides a peace, stability, and wisdom. It provides you the opportunity to respond in a way that is awake to what is really happening in experience. The relationship naturally harmonizes in this seeing. And if you find that the relationship must end or change in some way, that decision will be clear also.
For more on this type of inquiry, see the Living Realization text at www.livingrealization.org.