A discussion about spiritual relationships is needed in today’s world. An ideal to look up to, to aspire to, to evoke the positive change in our lives to make us all happier and kinder to each other. Whether in the home, at work, or beyond. So that we can extend that respect, kindness and joy outward to embrace our human family.
To spiritualize a relationship is to uplift a relationship; to raise its quality and energy more positively. Have you ever spent time with a friend, and after your experience together left feeling happier and lighter than before? These are the uplifting, positive types of spiritual relationships all people are seeking. Each person is looking for an experience of love and acceptance through their relationships in life. And spiritual relationships, where people do uplift each other, are gifts not to be taken for granted.
Spiritualizing a relationship requires three things: acceptance, aspiration, and generosity. The opposite qualities of judgment, passivity, and selfishness.
How to Practice Self-Acceptance
First, understand that the need to judge and criticize others come from our own feelings of undeserving or unworthiness. For example, maybe you continue to have negative reactions to another person’s behavior, and have similar interactions even with other people. If so, you need to look at what there is within you that is causing this reaction.
Each experience is a lesson for growth. It is a perfect law of the universe, that everything perceived outside of you, is a reflection of that which is within you. And so that in essence—each person acts as a mirror for where to improve. And each person is a reflection of the quality of energy you give to others and the consciousness you have. You attract certain experiences to you to help you improve that energy quality and thus your relationships.
Often the things people criticize about others are the same negative thoughts that run through their heads in relationship to themselves. Complaining about other’s behaviors, and how “if only they would do this, or change that!” is ignoring the role that each of us has to play in how we behave in and react to the world. If you can concentrate on changing yourself first, and first learning to behave, then others will come to you on their own when they are ready to hear from you about how they can change.
There is a wonderful story about Mahatma Gandhi when he was visited by a mother and her son. The mother asked Gandhi to please tell her little boy not to eat so many sweets. She thought that this advice from such a great leader of the Indian people would be taken quite seriously!
Gandhi said, “Ask me again in one week.”
A week later, the mother came again with her son. This time, Gandhi turned to the boy and said, “Don’t eat so many sweets.” The woman was astonished. Why so long for this simple statement? She asked, “Couldn’t you have said that to him a week ago?”
“No,” Gandhi replied, “You see, a week ago I was eating sweets, myself.”
Gandhi also said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
How to Be More Accepting of Others
So aspire to be accepting of yourself first, and then you will begin to more easily accept others. Aspire to be full of love and kindness, and then to send that to others.
I often watch myself and observe how I fall into repetitive patterns, especially when I return home to be with family. I can see myself going off into criticism or anger again and again over the smallest things. And I hear a voice inside my head reminding me not to get upset. But that part of me that is the voice of reason- -the Big Me (my higher, true Self) just hasn’t found control yet over the Little Me (my ego). It seems that no matter how many times I try to respond differently, I still let myself get angry when someone forgets to put the toilet seat down.
But I still persist, and continue to aim for better relationships with my loved ones, my peers. I have a positive direction that I am for. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but as a great sage of India once said, “Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”
And even if things start to feel difficult, remember that “There are no such things as obstacles, only opportunities!” –Swami Kriyananda.
Practicing Unconditional Love & Generosity
What does unconditional love really mean? It is a love that is given to others no matter what they can give back. It is separate from yourself, given without any expectations of what you would receive in return. And how many of us can say, truly, that we give our love without any conditions? No matter what we go through with our loved ones, and how they change? Unconditional love is a deep, spiritual love.
With spiritual relationships, it is not about what you can get from others, but what you can share and give to them. If you can focus on giving, rather than what you can gain, the relationship is expansive instead of contractive. This goes back to the quality of energy of spiritual relationships—they help you to expand your love and gain that sense of upliftment.
From this practice in your current relationships, you can expand this unconditional love in even greater directions outward, and learn to see all people as your family. This means learning to be generous to those outside of our predefined circles of family or friends, and seeing our one human family.
Don’t place limitations on your sense of family.
Then there are others who treat those outside their family better than they treat their own. In this case, it is a matter of respect and not taking your loved ones for granted because outsiders come and go, and those close to you are with you throughout the ups and downs of life.
And lastly, remember that your experiences are a reflection of what you give to life. And you only get what you give. So if you focus on generosity, serving others, making others happy, and continuing to move outside of your own bubble to give more, you will find others reflecting this quality back to you.
Other Qualities to Develop in Spiritual Relationships:
- Help each other raise your energy by being creative together.
- Learn how to communicate. Avoid voicing negative emotions.
- Remember that relationships are not a contest. It’s not about winning. Be “right” by being peaceful, loving, or creating laughter to break up tense energy.
- Understand that relationships are about the longer rhythms of love and support, rather than a short blip or argument in your time together.
- Be present with others when you are with them. Listen completely to what others are saying in the moment.
- Keep a healthy distance in relationships so others can continue to grow as individuals. Give one another privacy and respect.
- Learn to develop patience.
- Be slow to judge and quick to forgive.
And remember, we are all here to grow, none of us are perfect. And we all deserve to be free to make mistakes, yet be loved regardless of our faults. We all deserve to feel loved unconditionally. We all want that in the end. If we are surrounded by this love, of course our relationships will flourish. Because where else would they go but up, up, and up!
This article was inspired by the book, “Self-Expansion through Marriage: A Way to Inner Happiness,” by Swami Kriyananda.