Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.

This is a very good article on relationship.

Sounds boring, right? Ugh. Shoot me in the face, already.

But, truly. One of the greatest teachings that the study of Buddhist and yogic thought has wrought in my own life — a life that had quite proudly always relied upon that stubborn Simon and Garfunkel-esque notion of being a rock and an island — is the understanding that we really only exist in relationship. Our realities are contingent upon the realities around us that construct our lives, our patterns, our foundations, our networks, our experiences. And just as every aspect of our lives arises as a result of that interconnection, so too can we never quite wholly step back from that interwoven reality.

Sucks, eh? We're stuck with the messy and the rich and the complicated and the divine.

So we sure as hell'd better try to figure out how to operate kindly and compassionately and authentically and vulnerably in that relationship, eh?

We're talking relationships on a broad scale here. Your relationship with your mailman, the clerk at Whole Foods, the stranger on the internet whose article you diss, Henry David Thoreau and the way his 150-year-old writing still makes your heart stop, that one co-worker you always secretly want to punch, your lovable but annoying little brother, your adoring but stupid and fat old cat, the bus driver whose name you don't know but who picks you up every day at 8:05 on the dot, your houseplants who rely on you not to suck at watering them, the field worker in Costa Rica who picks the strawberries you buy on the shelf at Safeway. You get my drift.

That's relationship. All of it. Not just what we think of when we say the "R" word.

I grew up watching a lot of women be super-needy. And I've spent a lot of years as the aloof bartender standing behind a granite slab pretending not to listen but constantly overhearing women a few cocktails in getting all weepy and needy and desperate for the imagined completion of a stereotypical heteronormative relationship. And I've gotta say, I'm still not a fan of the uber-neediness of a lot of the chicks my age. I think that's why I've mostly hung out with and identified more as a dude myself all these years. (Bullheadedly independent, that is. And determined to not be the normative female, wholly defined by her relationships.)

But then you meet Buddhism, and Process theology, with its emphasis on all beings emerging in process with one another, and eco-feminist Christian theology, which is all about co-creation and bringing about the divine through relationality, and you go: oh, hey. Cool. Maybe relationship doesn't have to look the way we've always imagined it must. Maybe healthy relationships don't have to be needy.

When you shift your mindset to that bhakti notion of offering, of asking yourself, "What can I give?", living in relationship — whether it's with your mailman or your teacher or your beloved — becomes less about getting, and more about simply being present for someone else. And, well, that's pretty damn liberating.

So get in there:
To open yourself up to need, longing, dependency, and reliance on others means opening yourself to the truth that none of us can do this on our own. We really do need each other, just as we need parents and teachers. We need all those people in our lives who make us feel so uncertain. Our practice is not about finally getting to a place where we are going to escape all that but about creating a container that allows us to be more and more human, to feel more and more. ...

We learn to keep our relationships and support systems in good repair because we admit to ourselves how much we need them. We take care of others for our own sake as well as theirs. We begin to see that all our relationships are part of a broad spectrum of interconnectedness, and we respect not only the most intimate or most longed-for of our relationships but also all the relationships we have — from the most personal to the most public — which together are always defining who we are and what we need in order to become fully ourselves.
A yoga practice teaches us, slowly, over the course of the years, to soften, to unfurl, to open up, without fear. So if yoga is union, and our relationships create our reality, then, dude: get connected. Nothing fancy. It's really just the practice of seeing the humanity, the Krishna, the suffering in the person across the dinner table, or across the road, or across the hall. Pretty simple stuff, if you ask me. No islands necessary.

No Gain (Tricycle)


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