There’s a character in one of Kurt Vonnegut’s novels who offers a piece of chocolate to anyone who’s sad. Now, the scientists say there’s a chemical in chocolate identical to something the brain produces when we’re in love. Does chocolate make us feel in love, then, or ease a broken heart? Yoko Ono ate almost nothing but chocolate cake for weeks after John Lennon was killed.
Here’s a box of our best: some of the most interesting words we’ve printed about love and relationship over the past eight years — some of it’s nutty, some of it’s bittersweet, maybe you’ll find the cherry.
Why a SUN Valentine on Love and Relationship? Because it’s almost all we’ve been talking about around here. See my Editor’s Note. See the faces of my friends.
People need a little loving and, God, sometimes it’s sad all the shit they have to go through to find some.
[Sunbeams: Issue 3]
All you hear from guys is desire, desire, desire, knocking its way out of the breast, and fear, striking and striking. Enough already! Time for a word of truth. Time for something notable to be heard. Otherwise, accelerating like a stone, you fall from life to death. Exactly like a stone, straight into deafness, and till the last repeating I want I want I want, then striking the earth and entering it forever!
Henderson the Rain King
[Sunbeams: Issue 38]
The heat inside the human body grows, it does not know where to throw itself — for a while it knots into will, heavy, burning, sweet, then into generosity, that longs to take on the burdens of others, then into mad love that lasts forever.
An Interview With Robert Bly
Everyone has two relationships. If I am a man, I have a relationship with a woman, or women; and then I have a relationship with my interior woman. One becomes a model for the other. We have a role model; and the way you relate to your interior woman probably decides how you will behave with other women.
The woman is in a similar situation. If she despises her interior male she will find herself constantly attacking the outward male side in feminist groups. Her hostility to outward males means that she will probably never establish a decent relationship with her own male side. So something is going wrong here in the way the women’s movement has turned more and more to attacking males. Because all they are doing is tearing themselves to pieces. If you understand that no one is completely female and no one is completely male, it has to be. So from that point of view the whole matter is more complicated than I felt in the beginning; and I think one has to be very careful to avoid the constant attack on males or females once you understand that each is inside us.
Probably men have to develop their female sides if they want to become a grown man. I feel Lincoln was a grown man, Nixon was merely a male. Apparently, women have to develop their male side if they want to become a grown woman. It’s said that three of the generals that Caesar faced were women. In the old Celtic civilization, there were many grown women. I’ve recently become aware that it’s important also which side is developed first. I think a man needs to develop his male side first, and after that it is time to develop the female side. Now, there are many cases in the sixties when boys in their twenties, because inside they were rejecting male consciousness along with Vietnam involvement, tried to develop their female side first. And they became babysitters before they became men. They became bakers of brown bread before they had actually developed their male consciousness. How you want to interpret “the male side” is all up to you. But it seems to me that in ancient life the emphasis for men was on developing the male side and then the female side, in that order. Many women, I think, hesitate to go to law school at twenty because they feel a danger that they may lose touch with their own feminine side. That’s right. In a culture like ours in which woman is not really respected, many women are already out of touch with their woman side. If they ignore that and attempt to go forward and develop the male then they begin to deny any of the distinction between male and female. What is missing in our culture for women involves really respecting what is womanly and basing, grounding yourself in that. That means not so much to be feminine, but womanly, taking life seriously.
Sometimes it seems to me that in this absurdly random life there is some inherent justice in the outcome of personal relationships. In the long run, we get no more than we have been willing to risk giving.
Using another as a means of satisfaction and security is not love. Love is never security; love is a state in which there is no desire to be secure; it is a state of vulnerability.
Love is when I am concerned with your relationship with your own life, rather than with your relationship to mine. . . . There must be a commitment to each other’s well-being. Most people who say they have a commitment don’t; they have an attachment. Commitment means, “I am going to stick with you and support your experience of well-being.” Attachment means, “I am stuck without you.”
[Sunbeams: Issue 65]
. . . The most important rule I have in sexual etiquette is: Never make love to a friend of a friend. There are other rules, like not having a sexual relationship with employees or people you work with, or your neighbors, and there are very clear reasons for those things. But the most important one involves the close friend — or lover, for that matter — of one of your friends. The reason is very straightforward: If you were my close friend, or my lover, and you had a very close friend who seemed to be interested in me, or in whom I was interested, if I were to follow through with that interest it might put our friendship in jeopardy. Most sexual relationships have a high probability of frustration; high meaning maybe 25% of the people who become sexual partners do not remain friends. There’s something about the sexual relationship that increases the probability of friction. Not that the other 75% can’t be wonderful and spectacular, but something like 25% of the time you can have some friction that’s unwanted and unnecessary. The consequence of that is that it reflects back on your friendship, because then your close friend has some strong feeling against or about me. I realized long ago that sexual relations are much easier to come by than friends and therefore they should be given a lower priority. The friendship, because it’s rarer and much more important in your life, should be given a higher priority.
[Woman’s Choice: A Sampler]
An Interview With William Irwin Thompson
SUN: In California also, one out of every two marriages ends in divorce.
THOMPSON: Well, that’s also becoming true in parts of America outside of California. We’re clearly in an unstable area where marriages break up. But you know, if you look at your friends, especially maybe at my age, 41, you find the pattern happening that after marriages break up, and a person may spend a period time in relationships, sooner or later either one or both get married again. Partly because people get bored with the kind of Annie Hall date where you go out and talk about relationships all the time, because it’s a bore to date a woman and hear her talk about nothing except her last relationships and her previous boyfriends and her this and her that. And so after that boredom when you find someone who can share a sense of value and share a life’s work, and be involved in it, you tend to get mated. Now maybe these matings won’t last for a long time. I remember once seeing a film on The Daybooks of Edward Weston. He said that at every chapter of his life a different woman came in and that at every spiritual turning and major revolution in his heart, the woman changed. Now this could easily be said as much for a woman as for a man. But maybe what we are seeing as we go through many incarnations — almost in one lifetime now — you may start out as a lawyer, you may decide to drop out or you start as a professor and you drop out of that. You can’t stay in the same relationship for your entire life. That’s fine. The difficulty is, of course, what happens to the kids. And we haven’t worked that one out. It’s a real toughie. I’ve had to deal with it in terms of my own life, trying to really keep involved with my kids, even though one of my children doesn’t live with me. No easy answers to any of that. It’s all very painful stuff. And where it’s going, it’s hard to say. But I don’t think it’s going to entropy. I think it’s going to stabilize into new forms.
I want to love loneliness the way I love you. I want to enter it and twist up its hair in my fist. Its mouth open like the sea. My thoughts like bandages peeling away. Breathing together, my loneliness and I.
Marriage: More Than A Twosome
Marriage is an organizing principle, order brought to bear upon chaos, the complications of two laid against the complexity of one. It is a coordination, “coordinate” meaning “of equal rank,” a protean and perseverant form.
The word for “single, alone” — monos — is related to the words for “to lack” and “sparse.” There are benefits to be had from sparseness, from solitude, from being with oneself. The question is whether, in any given person, this signifies a deficiency of being.
A twosome is a complementary endeavor. A threesome is more stable yet, suggesting completion. Marriage provides the third corner to a twosome and stabilizes it into the unit of our biology and culture. A child from marriage transforms a metaphorical triad into a physical one: thus is family generated.
And yet there is a sense in which a marriage is itself family, is progeny of the two. The marriage is an entity or energy which comes from a combination of beings, giving them ballast and balance.
A twosome without marriage lacks this provision, and is that much less secure, standing on two pivot points, must be supplied with that many more accompaniments — of gesture, vocabulary, and social riddles. It tends not to have such firm footing or endurance.
Marriage does not survive in many twosomes because the number of elements is tripled, not doubled as they may suppose. There is me, you, and us. Therefore, there must be skills of autonomy, relationship, and of creation. Self, other, and that whole which is greater than the mere sum of its parts. A decreasing number of people bring such skills, or the ability to develop them, to each other. There are more and more twosomes masquerading as marriages.
It is possible to imagine a more generous enclosure — a household welcoming to neighbors and friends: a garden open to the weather, between the woods and the road. It is possible to imagine a marriage bond that would bind a woman and a man not only to each other, but to the community of marriage, the amorous communion at which all couples sit: the sexual feast and celebration that joins them to all living things and to the fertility of the earth, and the sexual responsibility that joins them to the human past and the human future. It is possible to imagine marriage as a grievous, joyous human bond, endlessly renewable and renewing, again and again rejoining memory and passion and hope.
Among the guests at the wedding supper light spread outward from food on the table into their hair, their finery; all the while their laughter finding substance: light and laughter soon grew solid; into stones. To her, the bride, and me, the groom, the stones of changing hues and feel were given. In time we built a house of such stones. Each time it collapsed we built another. So she and I have lived in many houses, each house built from the others upon the same foundation. There is no fear of destitution: Even when we wake up with the house collapsed around us, if we weep, if we look upon our ruin in mute despair, there is the glow the stones give forth. When we sit within roof and walls, the funny chill creeps in. When the chill takes over and everything freezes, we soon sit warm within roof and walls again. And often I step out of the house and go into the woods and look up to God and stars and wonder why I’m lucky. And she has told me often in her way she does the same.
My First Sexual Experience
I clearly remember my first sexual experience, although I don’t know how old I was. I woke up from a dream and the room was filled with sunlight. As I was aware of the intensity of the light and the deepness of the sky and afternoon beyond the windows, I was also aware of a presence down between my legs; a thing I felt familiar with, yet somehow foreign to: my cock standing up because of the dream, maybe (whatever it was about), or just for its own sake. A wave of wild wanting swept through me and I did not have enough Christianity pumped into me yet to fight it. The object of my desire was neither man, girl, woman, or beast. In fact, there was no object desired. All I needed was right there for that brief moment of freedom. I had myself.
Thinking about it I don’t know that I should differentiate between that experience and the rest that followed. It seems to me they are all one. The self-centered desire just finds objects now to attach to.
[Readers Write: First Sexual Experiences]
. . . Loneliness may be, after all, simply the awareness of a perception of lack of love. If that’s the case, then we may be looking in the wrong place for relief. Perhaps we should learn to love ourselves first. Then, when we can do that, we can feel ourselves as a part of a whole. And then, too, we can afford to love one another.
My mother’s injunction not to let myself be stuck alone had an implication behind it that to be alone is to be miserable. She certainly felt that way, and I guess she was warning me to avoid doing what she had done. Yet I have always (except for a period of a year and a half when a partner and I were inseparable 24 hours a day), spent a great deal of time alone, by choice. I was never miserable about it. Nor did I ever think of myself as lonely.
Just a few years ago I learned to my surprise that I was sometimes lonely. I had effectively refused to label the feeling that I had, and defined loneliness as something else. If you had asked me what loneliness was I would have told you that it was being unhappy when alone, because of being alone. And since I knew I liked being alone, I knew I wasn’t lonely. Simple. And I was successfully refusing to acknowledge what my body and emotions were telling me.
I stumbled on the secret I was keeping from myself when I began a concerted effort to rid myself of my addictions. I found out that it wasn’t enough, for me, to plumb the psychological depths and understand the psychological stratagems I was using on myself. There was more to it than that. So I acknowledged my loneliness and faced my essential aloneness. The more I tried to understand it, which I did by experiencing it when it came, the more I perceived new aspects of it.
For example, I have localized my loneliness in my solar plexus. In fact, I am aware that I draw smoke into my lungs, and stuff my mouth, to fill the hole that I perceive there. Of course, this stratagem that my subconscious has worked out for me doesn’t get to the substance of the problem. It just eases the symptoms.
When I focus in on that vacant place in myself, it isn’t human communion that I find myself missing. The times I feel lonely are those times when I feel insecure in my place in the universe. I see those times as times of spiritual need. So now, while I still fill my lungs and my stomach to ease my discomfort, I seek a spiritual, rather than psychological, solution. Just meditating eases that pain in the gut as well as any dish of ice cream. And for about as long.
The yawning abyss within me is there anytime I want to pay attention to it. But I clearly disconnect it now with bodily proximity to a loved one. This is a soul matter.
And no matter how I look at this, as a psychological, sociological or spiritual dilemma, still the fact is that my attitude is the crux of it. If loneliness is the dejection over awareness of being alone, and I am responsible for my emotions, then I can decide not to be dejected about it. It’s my choice.
[Woman’s Choice: A Sampler]
Nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try and find anything. We must simply hold out and win through. That sounds very hard at first, but at the same time it is a great consolation, since leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bonds between us. It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap; he does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with one another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain.
[Sunbeams: Issue 68]
Boredom, And Its Blessings
I am a creature bankrupt of desire, save one — LUST. And what am I to do now, while in the experimental “foregoing of fucking” stage? If I deny my prime desire and if I have no others, how am I to act other than at random, which I also refuse to do? If I have no desires except to fuck and if I have vowed not to initiate conjunction for that purpose, how the living fuck am I supposed to begin the movement, I mean lift my body from its position slumped over the typewriter, irritate the locomotive function? I am speaking of that body as it has come to be lodged in a corpuscle of time, I am observing that body from the inner eye and recognizing that that body does not and never will move unless it has a hunger. And I am mulling over this question: how is it supposed to BEGIN to move from that fixed point, from THAT fixed point, from THAT fixed point, from even one of those fixed points, unless there is a desire, quick and sharp and pungent, to GO somewhere, to SEE someone?
This to me is a humiliation, a desperate admission: that I should DESIRE to go to the house of a person who is NOT ME. This is open schism, a willing and spurious snub of devoted self-love, an affront to the divine right automatically and unintentionally to be always in the right place at the right time. Who offers more inspired guidance than my own loving demoniacal self? It is true that I have endured healings at the hands of friends and lovers. But how denigrating, how absolutely embarrassing to gravitate towards another reeking with expectation — the unforgivable desire to be enriched and inspired by the presence of another. The DESIRE itself. It is not the enrichment that is fatal, but the DESIRE.
How is one to proceed if deprived of desire? One wishes, on the one hand, not to anticipate enrichment, not only for fear of disappointment, but simply because the anticipation always precludes precise satisfaction. On the other hand why bother WILLINGLY to place oneself in the midst of a social gathering for an obligatorily polite snatch of time if nothing inspiring is promised? This is a big risk. When one places himself in company, it is the greatest gamble.
You Can’t Lose Him
Can’t you understand? Can’t you see people cannot live together, freely and with love, till they have learned to live alone, to be alone . . . Neither he nor you are at that point. Your relationship is too full of needs you are too weak to fill yourselves. You are unable to view him for himself, to see his reality. Your vision is blurred by your needs and expectations. When they are not met it turns to anger. A relationship can always aid in growth but can only be as healthy and stable as the two people involved . . . None of us can really love, only desire. You know where anger is at and you know where jealousy is at. They are never easy to deal with, throwbacks from an age hopefully dying, something each of us must integrate in ourselves and this can be done only one way: to evolve your own being, to detach yourself to the point you can take care of your own self — physically, economically and most important, emotionally. This is freedom. It can never be taken away. It depends on no thing. No idea. No person but yourself and it allows you to love . . . He and his world, his being will always be there. You can’t lose him because you never had him.
[You Can’t Lose Him]
Letter To A Brother
I probably would be too sensible to write this normally, but there is very little normal in my life these days. I realize I’m not taking much responsibility for your feelings doing this, but that’s good for me. Hope it’s good for you, too.
Don’t ever again talk to me about marriage. It is ultimately bad for your cause, if nothing else, because it seems so ungrounded in the landscape of essential emotion. You begin to look like a person contemplating a smorgasbord of LIFE/WOMEN and lighting on me as the most succulent peach. OK, I am, I’m a winner, I’m the moon, but the moon is Buddha. I guess I’m telling you that I have a lot of disrespect for what I perceive as greed in your love.
I don’t feel comfortable being defined as the woman who means one woman to you. It’s not reciprocal — when I feel that way about someone, he’s usually very yang, to kick off the yin echo in me. That’s never been the energy dynamic between us. Ruthless and nasty as this may seem, it feels like a motion towards truth on my part and even the most difficult truth is better than the most delicious of lies.
We’ve had some delicious times that weren’t lies. I don’t want to deny the good stuff, but I am really angry at you. Some big blind spot keeps you from respecting something in me that requires your respect or I will hate you. You will violate me again, and again I will get pregnant, I will have abortion after abortion.
Give it up. I am here, your sister, someone else who has fought past the bankers of souls to songs and words that dance, I will help you in your growth, your struggle whichever way I can, but you’ve got to give it up, the thing you are doing relative to me. I hate it. I hold hands with you, it’s warm and sweet, we wade into it, my smile congeals over teeth, icy teeth. I guess I’m warning you. Don’t come near me with your projection, ever again. Give me my wholeness, it will help you find your own.
To mail this? Or fade into safety and distance. I’m not sure. Maybe it will end up to be more healing than harmful. You will survive it, I will respect you for surviving it. Where is your own anger? Write me a letter.
[Readers Write: Relationship]
Letter To A Sister
Angry sister with bitter tongue, why can’t you understand we must walk the path towards sexual liberation together or not at all. We have been living a lie for so many centuries of the patriarchical God. Don’t feed ourselves or our children new lies of Mother Supremacy. Can you imagine that man’s bondage from Old Testament God and Aristotelian science is as great as women’s?
I have been called a coward, a sissy, a “sensitive” mystic and queer — all in the pursuit of Truth. You think it’s easy for all men. Well, sorry sister, your stereotype does not fit. We do not all believe football is the only important thing to do on Sunday nor scientific method the only way into truth. Some of us begin to trust our intuition, some court the mother’s magnetism, some suckle at her breast.
Sister, I get weary and resentful of your relentless persecution that denies me my sensitivity and hangs me for my strengths. I am a peace, I am a power that as yet has no definition in our society. Neither religion, nor psychology, nor military, nor business, nor science understands the true nature of male.
So on the way towards sexual liberation I must continue. But I keep believing that tantra holds the secrets of that liberation, not that we need to fuck more, but that our energies as masculine and feminine are complementary, and that both participate in a whole that is beyond liberation of one at the expense of the other.
[Readers Write: How Men See Women, How Women See Men]
It is a terrible thing, this kindness that human beings do not lose. Terrible because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, wind up with that small change. We have nothing else to give.
Ursula K. Le Guin
[Sunbeams: Issue 62]
That’s the secret of exquisite relationship, by the way. It’s when the two people use truth as a vehicle to come into a relationship in which it has gone beyond a relationship because there is only one of it playing that it’s two. And even when the two are locked in the worst nitty-grittiness — “I hate your guts! You’ve done this to me, I’ve been with you too long” — even at that moment there is this little whisper across the top, “You still here? I’m still here. Far-out! God, this is heavy!” As long as you are serious in your own story line, as long as you are who you think you are, you are really quite mechanical. You are determined. You are karmic run-off. But the minute that next plane of awareness starts, your karmic run-off just became relatively real, not absolutely real. Then you just keep adding plane after plane after plane. And then you’re just living out your drama. But through that comes absolute light because there’s nothing that narrows the pipe on the way through, because there’s nobody holding on anywhere. There is total involvement and no attachment. You are an environment in which anybody else — whether it’s your child, your spouse, your boss, your employee, your bus-driver, whoever — can be with you as one, if they choose. And if they don’t, if they are busy holding onto their separateness, it is perfectly OK because you don’t need them to recognize the fact that we are both God.
The Dark Mother
As an infant in your dependence you trust, and in a sense crave, the female to be beneficent, because of the helplessness. The mother is, in general, the nourisher. But the female, as well as the male, also has a negative side. To a male child the negative side of the mother is the darkest, scariest thing he can perceive. What could be scarier than that? A bunch of scary warriors coming through would be rationally acceptable — they’re not your mother, at least.
So a woman who, of her own nature, has a dark side — she will also be creative. Something is triggered by being a witness to that most paradoxical of human situations, witnessing the dark and light side of the mother simultaneously. Most people only witness the light side of the mother. Literally. They only see the bright side of the mother, in one way or another. But some people see the dark side of the mother. If you only see the dark side you probably go crazy. The poet holds the dark and the light in mind, together. Which, by extension, means birth and death in its totality. We worship not only the positive forces, the life-giving forces — not just that. We can all say, “Ah, planet earth biosphere, mother earth, mother wonderful — all these green plants.” But there’s also death, there’s also the unknown, there’s also the demonic. And that’s the womb and the tomb, that’s samsara, that’s birth and death, that’s where the Buddhists go in. And that’s where poetry goes in: That’s where poetry gets its hands on something real. And it is triggered, I think — in many people I know it is triggered by seeing that in their infancy as a condition of the universe in the psychology of their own life.
Yes, now. Now, please now, only now, not anything else only this now, and where are you and where am I and where is the other one, and not why, not ever why, only this now; and on and always please then always now, always now, for now always one now; one only one, there is no other one but one now, one, going now, rising now, sailing now, leaving now, wheeling now, soaring now, away now, all the way now, all of all the way now; one and one is one, is one, is one, is one, is still one, is still one, is one descendingly, is one softly, is one longingly, is one kindly, is one happily, is one in goodness, is one to cherish, is one now . . .
For Whom the Bell Tolls
[Sunbeams: Issue 36]
Woman, I Give Myself To You
I have unloosened the knot holding me to my end and now fall to the rough body and ruins of a new beginning. To the world I am a guest visiting a house and leave behind my name that they may study it like the fossil of a footstep of something dead. I rise, shattering the meaning, and walk out to the other side of myself, to the darkness, to the me others do not know. You must be ready for a long walk, for I take you with me. You will walk the crooked path I am and learn who I am like a barefooted traveler in the dark learns the rocks on a road. To reach the other side of me you will pass the blinding bottoms of dreams. Though I do not know the way in the dark, come with me down the dark hill of myself. You will know me in this life like a window of a neighbor in the night one uses as a marker when traveling in the dark, when you have stayed out too late and find yourself all alone, I will be there.
Like A Man
I am a man. I’ve a man’s name, a man’s body, a man’s vocabulary, a man’s exaggerated guilt, a man’s pained swollenness in the face of what is simple, a man’s dumb conceits about romance, about women. Which women? The temple dancers? Business whores? Kitchen slaves? Third-dimensional women, with their riddles of flesh? Fourth-dimensional women, with their acrobatics of salvation, Atlantean seductions, extra set of keys to the Kingdom? All of them. And my mother. And grandmother. And hand over hand back the apron strings to Eve. The unwinding umbilicus, the lifeline to my drowning gasps, the lasso round my neck and round my heart. I’ve loved you, fucked you, in how many lives, by how many names? Born to you, wed to you, how often traitor, and sacrifice, in the suburbs, within the gates? Stapled at the navel, your stud, your cripple. Oh Florence Nightingale, bend to me. I want to see under your dress — are there demons and serpents there? And at night, when the nurses of infinite pain have rinsed the blood from their shirts, is there conversation and laughter? Girl talk? What is that? I am deaf; show me with your fingers, your lips. Miss College, taking the words of the men so seriously, the men in the books and in the bed — I am blind; take me by the hand, lead me to your wisdom. Make of it something to hold, in the night when I am empty; make of it a dance without steps, a heart without ache, a sex without distinction. Queen of Liberation, your tongue moving like a restless snake, promising freedom (men have died for it), promising equality (men have killed for it), promising the evening of accounts — I am mute; speak for me. My own tongue has suffered the recitation of too many poems, too many unanswered questions, too many stinking lies. Let your voice be my voice. Face the camera directly. Bare the breast and explain about the blood, where the chains were. And the milk, where the soldiers nursed. Before dying, for your right to speak. Talk about the New Day. Sex roles — abolished. Menstrual pain — abolished. Rough hands, cold feet, bad breath — banished to the frozen past. An ocean behind us. An ocean of ice separating Then, and Now. I will wait. Dumb and deaf and blind. To talk again, hear again, see again, even to feel. On the distant shore, till the ice is broken, for the touch of your waves. Patiently, like a man.
The sword embedded in the stone . . . it’s a beautiful symbol, no one can get it out. Then someone comes along and takes it out with no effort because it was his sword. You have a woman who’s made of stone. No one can remove his phallus from her. You come and remove it with no effort. You can do it because she is your woman. Because when she had the phallus inside her, it was immobile. Because it was yours. And you went through life castrated. But when you laid your pelvis against hers, you recovered your phallus and you were able to enter and withdraw with ease. And then water came from the stone. And that water fell on your testicles, and your testicles bloomed, like flowers.
[Sunbeams: Issue 32]
“The bottom line is that (a) people are never perfect, but love can be, (b) that is the one and only way that the mediocre and the vile can be transformed, and (c) doing that makes it that. We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love. Wouldn’t that be the way to make love stay?”
(Her lover’s response): “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words ‘make’ and ‘stay’ become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”
Still Life with Woodpecker
[Sunbeams: Issue 63]
An Interview With Jehangir Chubb
SUN: What does love mean to you, and how does and doesn’t it relate to romantic love?
CHUBB: I think that spiritual love, which is a total self-giving without any thought of return, is the true nature of love. Then it may take a different form when, as it were, it enters into a restricted field of consciousness. There it may become romantic love. And it still retains its value in that particular expression. It is only when romantic love becomes possessive and thoughtless that there is degradation and distortion. So romantic love can be a very helpful thing, even in one’s spiritual life, if the two people help each other to grow. But that should not degenerate into possessive love, where you become all-important. Then love turns into a form of exploitation.
SUN: From your observations, how many people in romantic relationships are able to manifest that more spiritual love?
CHUBB: Well, it happens in India, we have that tradition there; if the two partners are both spiritually inclined, they help each other. Many of our sages have said the same thing, that such a relation can be very helpful indeed. But love in itself is its own eternity. It doesn’t require any response from anybody else to sustain itself.
SUN: So the beloved is all existence; one doesn’t need a single object. In fact, in having a single object, love can turn into something other than love.
CHUBB: Not other than love. I think that the qualities which we regard as values — love is one of them — exist in their absolute form in themselves or in the Divine and they can manifest under conditions of relative existence, where love, to take one quality, doesn’t cease to be love but becomes a lower and diminished form of the absolute quality. This is because there is an analogical resemblance between human qualities and their divine equivalents and this justifies us in using the same word: love, wisdom, knowledge, power. But the divine quality is qualitatively different from the human quality. It is not merely a higher degree of the corresponding human quality. When we pass from the human to the divine quality something new comes into being, something incomparable and ineffable. So romantic love is still love. We don’t need to use another word.
SUN: If the romantic love we’re absorbed in is not the same as the deeper spiritual love we would like to feel, what do we do about that predicament?
CHUBB: Why should it be a predicament? These things are permissible in the sense that they are helpful, in their own way. So why should it create a problem? The predicament would be artificial: I want to love in a spiritual way, but I don’t. Now that is an artificial demand.
SUN: How is it artificial?
CHUBB: Because you are setting up this ideal of spiritual love and saying this is what I must achieve. But according to the Buddha all growth should be spontaneous and natural. You don’t set up an ideal of what you want to be and try to become it. You become aware of what you are, and in that very process you become or realize the ideal.
Kali Comes Home
It is Kali come home, this territory. Kali — the ancient Hindu goddess of Destruction, sweet hurricane horror with single purpose: to sweep away delusions. I know this place all too well, but it remains an unfamiliar passage, even in its predictability, in the fierceness of the fire, as Kali matches tit for tat, attacks self-seriousness in any form, even under the most tragic of circumstances. She comes in drag, wearing a heavy cloak of despair, every imagined loss a looming reality in the fragmented darkness of her eyes.
The truth is forgotten, I am a blind woman on my hands and knees, fingertips following the silk thread through the dark, heart in its season of sorrow, crying “If only’s” and every regret, every denial, hating the moment because I think the light is lost, the beloved gone forever, my confusion the damnation I will be remembered by. It is a short-term hurt for a long-term heal; I suddenly understand, not through some feat of logic but through living alone with the only thing I have ever had or will ever have — the pearl of my Isness. I am not alone, I am the beloved, I am understood, and there is nothing I need ever change.
Starving dog that I am, I refuse to accept the Kali kiss until each time my radar confirms from every satellite signal: yes, this is the way, I can detect no loss, anywhere, in this allowance for everything.
Friends, mates, parents, siblings are separate planets within a larger united universe, not responsible for fulfilling my fantasies of how we meet, or even acknowledging the bridges are there.
To marry a woman with any success a man must have a total experience of her, he must come to see her and accept her in time as well as in space. Besides coming to love through attraction what she is now, he must also come to realize and love equally the baby and the child she once was, and the middle-aged woman and the old crone she will eventually become . . .
Only Two Can Play This Game
[Sunbeams: Issue 132]
Going To God
To us, marriage is only a vehicle for going to God. Monks go solo, and married couples go as a tag-team; one can’t get even a step ahead at the other’s expense. If the couple truly becomes “Dharma-mates” then there is never the question of separation or divorce. This Dharma marriage is quite different from a marriage based on social/psychological principles such as peace, happiness, liberated woman, liberated man in the popular sense. The Dharma marriage is a raw, no-holds-barred journey in which neither partner has any “rights” at all or spaces to uphold and protect, etc. Ram Dass used to query us, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be free?”
Rather than developing a context which maximizes the daily peace and harmony, the Dharma marriage equally fulfills the function of showing both partners all their uptightness, weaknesses and insecurities so that they can become free rather than just comfortable. Many marriages in our culture dissolve because the discomfort becomes too great for our model of what marriage should be like. Ironically, there’s tremendous joy in giving up even the slightest model or anxiety about having a happy marriage. There’s an old Buddhist saying, “Ah, the joy, to discover that there’s no happiness to be found in this world.”
If I want to be free, then anything that Sita does that gets me uptight is simply one more opportunity for me; it has nothing at all to do with her. If our life together is pleasant, that’s fine; if it’s not, then that’s fine too. Our union is a precious opportunity to come to God; who else other than your wife or husband can pick apart all those deepest, subtlest ego spaces? Why give that up so that we can hide better? In a sense this is the difference between bond and relationship. Sita and I have a stronger bond every day, because our relationship dissolves more every day. Relationship implies specified ways or guidelines within which two people deal with each other; agreements, more or less, about what goes and what doesn’t. The more defined a relationship, the less the union can evolve and change; the two people only have a certain context with each other; there’s a built-in stress in the system right from day one. The less the relationship, it’s a little scarier, but the stronger is the bond which develops. One year may be filled with romance, the next year may be totally platonic, in a third they may seemingly be going in different directions, in a fourth they may be driving each other crazy. The Dharma-mates don’t freak as their space changes, because they’re not clinging to a model of how it should be. It all becomes fascinating to experience — quite humbling as well. The Love deepens and grows too much to remain personal, and becomes Love for God instead. There’s no husband or wife, just two intimately connected beings becoming free together; for thousands and thousands of years, crossing gender and cultures and times . . . Change comes only with time; and Love defeats time. A relationship which depends on certain things changing or not changing is not one in Love.
Children become part of the marriage. The husband-wife-children thing is just the brief passing support system this time around. We honor that level, but also live more as two brothers and a sister on the spiritual journey. Laxmana, Sita and I are a marriage which we enjoy and appreciate more than words can describe. One of the definitions of “marriage” is “an intimate union.” In answer to your question, “What is marriage?”, it certainly is an intimate Yoga — one intricate, exquisite vehicle for going to God.
Ah, the grand humor of it all . . . Here comes the wind, the warm dry night wind, and who are we . . . ?
The Aquarian Age
Aquarius, needless to say, can be hard on marriage. In fact, we can look at marriage as a microcosm of this whole cycle of ages. Marriage is a coupling; it arises from the urge to find our complement, our other half, in another person. This is an archetypal human quality. It will persist; as long as there is a sexual polarity there will be a coupling instinct. But that coupling instinct can be manifested in countless ways. Under Pisces, we see the urge to dissolve the self into a greater whole and, in this case, to dissolve the self into the unit of a couple. Under Aquarius, we don’t find an end to love, or an end to sexual polarity but we do find an entirely new basis for being a couple. The couple as a unit into which we dissolve ourselves is over. That finished with the Piscean age. Under Aquarius we find still the basic hunger to seek the other half but also much more emphasis upon individuality and the autonomy of each partner.
We see the skyrocketing divorce rate in this century. There are the usual complaints of cruelty, adultery, abandonment. But we find a new theme in marriages that collapse: “I needed more freedom. I needed more independence. I couldn’t find myself in this marriage.” This is much more than a passing whim of our culture. This, too, is part of that archetypal energy that is being set into motion, and will be working itself out for next two thousand years. While it does not mean the end of marriage, it definitely will lead to its radical restructuring. We are no longer going to worship longevity in a marriage. We will worship individual growth within it. We will no longer fall under the Piscean myth that in marriage you may hate each other but if you just stay together you’re a big success. That’s Pisces: “I have dissolved myself into a greater whole.” It is not true of Aquarius. Successful marriages may occur in shorter periods, packing the evolution of a lifetime into five years. You get two strong individuals together and sparks fly. Everybody on the Earth wants to be a stronger individual under the Aquarian energy. Under Pisces, we would drift, we would lose ourselves. That is no longer appropriate. It’s not that one is better than the other, or harder than the other. It’s that they are different methods of learning and we are ready for a new one. Marriage will take on a wide array of new forms as we move into the Aquarian pattern.
We will recognize a couple as a couple even though they live apart. We’ll also find periods of separation in the marriage becoming more acceptable. One person will say, “I love you but I need to go to Europe for the next six months. You’re beginning to get on my nerves. If I don’t leave, we’re going to stop loving each other.” This will be acceptable even to conservative people in 100 years. In the Piscean age, separation meant the marriage was on the edge of disaster. In the Aquarian age we are going to find men and women who become entangled with each other for their entire lifetimes but in isolated units of time. They’ll be together when they’re in their twenties, when they’re in their forties, when they’re in their eighties. In their fifties, they’ll be apart, but they’re still a couple. We’ll probably find more “coupling” units of three or four people. Again, I’m not saying this is the archetypal pattern of the Eighties but just that we’re moving into an age in which there will be much more freedom for individual expression and this will be reflected within the socially acceptable forms of marriage.
The dangerous side of this is the selfishness that can so easily arise. All through history, love has been the only force that gets anybody any higher. Love has to contain a certain amount of compromise. Under Aquarius we’ll find more people throwing the baby out with the bath water. Relationships will be more likely to break up over some minor issue. In the past, that was unthinkable. Couples would stay together in the face of any problem. Under Aquarius, it’s the old “I like to sleep with the window open and you sleep with the window closed.” And that was the end of the relationship. This is an Aquarian sentiment. It’s not healthy. Commitment to another person is going to take on a deeper kind of poignancy. For one, it’s going to be much harder. The sense of freedom, the sense of separation, will be so strong that to say, “I love you and I respect you, and my life’s scheme is bound up in your life’s scheme as long as we live,” will really be a mouthful. In the Piscean age it was easy to do that; not now. The relationships that endure, marriages that endure, will be the most dynamic marriages that have ever existed.
Marriage is not a matter of creating a quick community of spirit by tearing down and destroying all boundaries, but rather a good marriage is that in which each appoints the other guardian of his solitude . . . Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them no less than one another.
An Interview With Ram Dass
But when I intentionally go into a relationship, it’s primarily designed for liberation. If I’m in a relationship with somebody and we get lost in a drama, in our habitual responses, all I’m doing is increasing his suffering. I’m not liberating him. All I can do for him is to become free, because my freedom helps him become free. If I’m trapped, he gets trapped too. So, it sounds callous but it’s the most compassionate thing I can do. I mean, the worst thing is to be kind to somebody, in a way that makes him an object: I don’t want to tell him this because it would hurt him or I don’t feel like I’m growing but I’ll be kind. Those kind of relationships, in the long run, are more corrosive to human dignity and human liberation and to the end of suffering, although that’s mostly what we do in relationships. We’re very kind with each other. But I find that truth, which is fiercer, is often kinder in a more profound sense. I’m not saying this very well. But I know what I’m trying to say.
In the relationship I’ve been in, I got to the point where I felt “we’ve gone as far as we can go” and then said to him, “I think we’ve gone as far as we can go.” And that’s been a catalyst for us to open to another place and start to go deeper. But it’s painful to say that because it’s scary. You’re jeopardizing the whole thing. You’d better be willing to risk the end all the time, to have the new beginning. You’ve got to keep risking it all. Saying that if it doesn’t liberate me, I don’t want to be in it means I don’t want to be just two personalities locked together. I want to be two manifestations of God, dancing together. Which is a liberated relationship. It’s a relationship where there’s one dancing as two, not two locked in their separateness. To me, the prison of two people locked in their own separateness, which is being together out of habit or out of kindness, is just too horrible.
There is a tremendous amount of separateness and fear that leads people to settle for living an interesting kind of hell of the comfort of familiarity, but no living spirit. I used to travel in my van and I’d often be in places where there were a lot of motor homes of retired people. And you would watch the relationships, talk to people and have a drink with them and play with their pets. And you could sense often these walking mechanical scenes. It’s like old shoes, they’re comfortable, but there’s nothing living happening. It’s presumptuous to say, except, as I get deeper in as a therapist with people, I feel that. It’s like sleep-walking until it’s all over. There’s a kind of ghastliness about that. That’s very common. We are all prone to it because we are getting a certain pay-off and we don’t want to risk going broke. We’ll settle for 22 percent rather than going for even 30 percent. And we settle very quickly. Very quickly. I watched us do it. It’s not enough.
I say you shall yet find the friend you were looking for.
[Sunbeams: Issue 49]
Patricia Sun On Men And Women
There’s a tremendous amount of programming and conditioning that is almost biologically oriented in the way that we happen to be born. In this duality of either/or thinking, there’s one extremely lopsided thing that happens. And that is that every single human being who exists has been born only of a female body, has lived parasitically off the flesh of that body, inside of that body, for about nine months, and then for most of humanity’s history, off of that body for a year or two or three or four more. For something of an animal body in a four-square reality, that is powerful stuff. You don’t live if Mom doesn’t let you grow in her body, or take care of you afterwards. Plus, in duality thinking, if someone has the power of life, they then, of course, have the power of death. Stop to think what this does as a set-up for men. Because, while women certainly get programmed with a ton of junk, on that particular issue, whether they have children or not, they know: “Oh, my body is one of those.” “Oh yeah, I’m one of those, like Mom.” So with women, for whatever your hassle is, whatever your fears are, whatever your dilemmas, whatever programming you have to work out, you at least have the “I’m one of those” identification.
But for men, it remains always an otherness power. When you are strictly four-square reality thinking, that’s something else, and that’s why throughout human history, women were, in pre-recorded history, dominant, and had to give it up because the men’s terror was too great; and they became submissive, and owned by men. Then, it was the father owned the daughter, and handed her over to the husband, and there was the virginity thing so that nobody else got in there to tap that power.
Where did all that craziness come from in our cultures? We treat it like “well, that’s just life.” The fact that we come in two kinds of bodies and only one kind grows new life has a profound hookup to consciousness evolving, and to the nature of the duality plane, and the nature of our trying to comprehend it.
Now there’s also a biological thing of women feeling very “at effect” of their bodies. Giving birth often meant death, it certainly meant hardship, and you were extremely vulnerable for a long period of time. That set up one of the big programmings and conditionings that women have — they need to own men, to get them to take care of them. “You need to have a man. You need to get married. . . .” All those imageries come from the same biological thing from the time we were running away from saber-toothed tigers. The fact is that we no longer need to do that. That’s not here anymore. Now we’re here to connect. To use what we’ve each learned. To share feelings. To get to sense the other person, to break down that barrier of fear.
Once I was with a few women at a picnic dinner at somebody’s house; the guys were out playing volleyball, the ladies were inside talking. And they were all talking about the men. They were all being very lucid, very clear, very accurate, and very complete in their understanding of how those men were, what their relationships were, what the problems were. They were very clear. And I thought, “Wow, these ladies really have good relationships.”
Then the men came in. And the women who’d been speaking very clearly suddenly went (laughs embarrassedly). And everything went iiicchhhhkkk. It was like a wave that went across the room, and the men felt it, and then their reaction to that yuck was to get yucky the other way, and then there was this ooh, in the room, and I thought, “Oh my God, that’s what it is. Men are terrified of women. And women are terrified of letting men know they know they’re terrified.”
And that’s the why to all this crazy song and dance we do. And why women are terrified is because throughout history they’ve gotten murdered a lot whenever they’d say what they thought or used men’s fear. When you get that imprinted in your genetic memory, you get very evasive.
So it’s been the way we’ve done the dance, to figure out who we are. All of this hasn’t needed to be happening for a long time, and it’s the hangover of the unconsciousness of the energy, not really founded in the realities of survival except as we create self-fulfilling prophecy. What we’re about to do is really look at how we have these unfinished experiences . . . it’s the real meaning behind ancestor worship. You must respect your heritage. Not in an exclusive sense of being better than anybody else, but in knowing that all your ancestors have been working on different pieces, and you’ve got assorted little vulgarities left over programmed into you that you have to become aware of and straighten out. And bring your consciousness into freedom, bring it into light. Bring it out of the shadow.