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Mental Relationships

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Mental Relationships?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Mental Relationships

Correspondences in Relationships

These are the basic mental relationships, and they are dependent on the basic perception of the other. Depending on what kind of object the other is, you become the corresponding person relating to that object. Most human relationships that are conflictual, that cause suffering, fall into one of these three categories of mental relationships. Also, if you investigate this issue of your relationships, you realize that those mental relationships are the source and the site of most of your emotional suffering. Most human suffering comes as a result of these mental relationships. There are other sources of suffering, but the primary source of emotional suffering is engaging in those mental relationships.

Engaging in Mental Relationships

Because we usually engage in mental relationships instead of real relationships, we are not present and we are not in contact. Contact requires real relationship. Contact means contact with what is actually there, with the actual relationship. The moment you split it, make it all positive or all frustrating or all hostile, you are not in contact. You are in your mind then. You are operating through your thoughts, and emotional reactions which are reacting to your thoughts. You think you are reacting to the other person. No, you are reacting to your thoughts. I am not talking only about couples or love relationships, but any relationships you have with any other human being, or with any other object. It could be a work relationship, a business relationship, a friendship, a love relationship, or a marriage. We see that one major reason we are not present, why we are not in contact with ourselves or with the other, with reality, is that we are engaged in these mental relationships. And we are very attached to these mental relationships because we do not want to see the totality of the situation. We do not want to be in contact with the real relationship. That would be devastating for a part of our mind that is based on that splitting.

Feeling the Hole of the Real Relationship

If there is no real contact, there is no real relationship. So you have to constantly activate one of those mental relationships because you cannot tolerate being with no relationship in your mind. You cannot live without relationship, so there is always an activation of some kind of mental relationship. That is why most of the time people are thinking about other people. If you examine your thoughts about other people, you will see that you categorize them into these three groups. You are always engaged in some kind of relationship in your mind. You do not allow yourself to be alone. You do not allow yourself to feel the absence of the real relationship. But you have to allow yourself to feel that absence, feel the aloneness—which is the hole of the real relationship—before you will be able to experience the real relationship. You have to experience the absence of it completely—no relationship, I’m empty, nothing there, no contact. When you feel that way, you may also feel that you are not real, that you do not exist, because you cannot exist without relationship. The moment you allow the negative relationship to go, the mental relationship to go, the ego starts freaking out, starts disintegrating, disappearing, and the aloneness will be felt as some sort of emptiness, some kind of absence of self. So when the mental relationship goes, the part of you that is relating to it goes, too, and you start feeling the absence of self, an emptiness which will be felt as an aloneness. When the aloneness is accepted and tolerated, it is then possible for real contact to happen, and not before that.

Idealized Relationship

If we delineate these mental relationships, we can distinguish three kinds that our mind is engaged in all or most of the time. There is the positive one, which is usually an idealized relationship. The other person is an idealized other—all wonderful, powerful, good, perfect, whatever the idealization is. You feel when you are with that person, everything will be wonderful, and you will be taken care of, loving, melted, and so on. That is what we call the all-good, idealized relationship. The moment you know you are feeling that way in a relationship, you can take it for granted that it is a mental one, not a real one. Also, when people are in that kind of relationship, they feel that they are completely in love. But you can be sure that your feeling of being in love is in your mind and not real, because it is not taking into consideration the real relationship.

Rarely Will You Acknowledge the Relationship that Actually Exists

Today I will talk about a question that is difficult to talk about, something most people look for without knowing exactly what it is they are seeking. It is something normal, nothing out of the ordinary for human beings. The question is: What is a real relationship? What is a real relationship between one human being and another? The exact answer is very simple and straightforward: The real relationship you have between you and another human being is exactly the relationship you have between you and that human being. The real relationship is the relationship that is actually there. Now, saying that the real relationship is the relationship that is really there is not necessarily the same thing as saying it is the relationship that you perceive to be there. That is the crux of the problem. The relationship that is actually there is very rarely perceived as it is. In fact, most people tend to do everything possible not to perceive or acknowledge the real relationship. We always try to make it something that fits with our mind or our ideas. The difficulty is that we do not see the relationship that is actually there, and we do not even experience ourselves to be engaged in the relationship that we are actually engaged in. We are engaged in many kinds of other relationships that are not actually there, which exist only in our minds. We could call these mental relationships. So we are distinguishing a real relationship from the relationship that a human being usually perceives. So far, it is simple but not easy to understand or to actualize. Rarely will you acknowledge the relationship that really exists. What you acknowledge is usually something in your mind, a mental relationship and the feelings that go along with that concept of the relationship.

The Frustrating Other

The second kind of mental relationship is where the other person is what we call the frustrating other. The other is the yummy one that you always want but you cannot have. That’s why we call the other the frustrating object—exciting, wonderful, but unavailable. I think many people are aware of that relationship. They spend much of their life wanting somebody they cannot have, either in reality or in their dreams. But there is a hope and belief that one of these days you are going to get that thing or that person. You do not understand that that is only the relationship your mind is actualizing all of the time, that you are invested in that kind of relationship. You do not want the satisfaction to become actuality. If you make it become an actuality, you will lose that mental relationship. Then all kinds of new things will happen. So, if you are one who is always involved in the frustrating relationship, you will find that it is important that that relationship continues to be frustrating even though you are always complaining about it. You do not want your hope to become an actuality. If it became an actuality, you would have to become real. So it stays like that: pie in the sky. You pine for something year after year, you are always excited about it, but you cannot have it. That is the frustrating kind of relationship.

The Hostile Relationship

The third kind of mental relationship is the hostile relationship, where you feel unwanted, rejected, or hated; or vice versa, where you are the one who is not wanting, rejecting, hateful, and hostile. Although you might think you do not like it or want it, if you keep being engaged in that relationship, you will notice that in reality your mind is attached to that relationship. You are engaged with it either with the other person or in your mind. Your mind needs the relationship for its own equilibrium. That is why some people feel rejected in most of their relationships with other people; whatever happens, they take it as rejection. If someone turns his head away, they feel rejected. If someone says something, they feel rejected. If someone does not say something, they feel rejected. It would be very difficult to convince them that the rejection is not true. It is difficult because they do not want it to not be true. It is important for them for it to be true. If it becomes clear that the rejection is not true, then the person’s mind will lose its equilibrium.

The Mind Does Not Allow Us to Keep the Totality of the Relationship in Perspective

The real relationship usually contains elements of all three kinds of mental relationships. With any human being there is satisfaction, fulfillment, and love, there is some negativity, anger, and hatred, and there is frustration. The real relationship is the relationship where these three are acknowledged, where the person realizes, “Yes, of course, I love this person, but I know he is angry at me,” or “I do not like this or that, but I still like her anyway.” Even when we are feeling rejected or hated or hateful, it does not make us forget that we love each other. But in the moment that the other person hates us, our normal tendency is to forget that he or she loves us. The moment that we are hurt, we forget that we love the other person. It is difficult to keep the whole thing together. The mind does not allow us to keep the totality of the relationship in perspective. The mind is always trying to protect itself by splitting relationships into purely good or purely bad components. It is very difficult for the mind to allow the perception of the complete, real relationship that exists.

The True Relationship is Rarely Purely Positive

Now, saying that the real relationship is the relationship that is actually present does not say what it is yet, because we do not perceive the relationship that is really there. We can only perceive what our mind tells us is there. When I say the real relationship, I do not necessarily mean a purely positive relationship, although some people might assume that. The purely positive relationship is one of mental relationships because the true relationship is rarely purely positive. If you really experience and examine any relationship you have with any human being, you will notice that it is never purely positive. In fact, that is where the problem starts: We want it to be purely positive, whatever that means to us. The drive towards a purely positive relationship is the main reason our relationships are not real; this is why we do not perceive the true or real relationship that is actually there.

Why Human Beings Create Mental Relationships

Originally, to start with, human beings create all these mind relationships, these mental relationships, these splittings in relationships, to protect the love, to protect the heart from hurt. That protection comes from ignorance. We do not know that our heart is indestructible. The heart cannot be destroyed. Your heart is more permanent than your body. Even when you feel hurt, it is not ultimately your heart that is hurt. What is hurt are your identifications, your self-image, your pride. So to continue loving regardless of what happens is not giving in to the other person; it is giving in to your heart, to your nature. Sometimes we do not allow ourselves to feel loving, and to be loving, and to act loving. This is because we think that loving means we are going to be weak, or that we are going to be taken advantage of, or exploited, or that we are being stupid, or that we are going to lose something.

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