Main Pages

By Region




Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Relationships?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Relationships

A Deep Desire to Melt Into the Other Person

The core of the need for intimate love relationships is the desire to actualize a certain relationship you had in early childhood with your mother. When you were a baby, four or five months old, you were in a state called “symbiotic union.” In this state, you were essentially merged with your mother. There was no sense of “I am me” and “you are someone else.” There was total, nondifferentiated unity with wonderful, pleasurable, warm, melting kinds of sensations. When you think about what you want in a relationship, you’ll usually find that what you want is to be so close that there are no longer two separate individuals. There is a deep desire to melt into the other person, with no boundaries, so that it’s not even a question of two people loving each other—there is just a state of love. It’s a big puddle—a wonderful, golden puddle—like honey with the sun shining through it. A golden womb. You feel safe, protected, melting. Your body is all pleasure; your mind doesn’t exist. Because we had this experience with mother during our infancy, we believe very deeply that to have this state again, we must be with another person. So, we search for the right person. What we are actually searching for is that sense of merging, the golden, melting feeling.

A Relationship Between Two People is a Kind of Soul

We want to learn how to be with each other in a way that will deepen and expand the relationship, give it the freedom, the opportunity, to develop its potential. We are implying here that just as our soul can develop, our relationships can develop. A relationship between two people is a kind of soul, a type of field of consciousness; it can either be opaque to its true nature or else it can be transparent to it, allowing the luminosity of true nature to manifest within and through it. Such transparency requires both people to be sincere in their interaction, caring about what happens in and to the field. They recognize that “In the same way that I care about my soul and how it is going to manifest, I care about the soul of my interaction with you. I have the opportunity here to discover and experience your truth, and mine, and to learn how we can both develop further through our relationship. The more I come to know you, the more I come to know myself.” When we are by ourselves, we experience our authenticity differently than when we are with another. And our experience of being with someone varies depending on whom we are with. We can be authentic and real in any situation, but what arises in us will differ depending on whether we are alone or interacting—and each interaction is unique. So each relationship, each interaction, is an opportunity for life to manifest its possibilities.

Combining Mutuality, Empathy and Attunement

When you combine mutuality with empathy and attunement, a very powerful dynamic results, which we experience as a mutual impact, a mutual influence. As I communicate or express myself to my friend, this does something to her. The communication doesn’t just give her information, it affects her consciousness, it changes her state. And seeing how my communication affects her affects me. So the necessary openness includes an openness to seeing that what I say and what I do have an impact, an influence, on the other person. It affects her emotionally, it affects her consciousness, it affects her state, but I am also open to being affected by her. I am open for her communication to impact me, to influence me. When there is mutual openness, then mutual influence can create a feedback loop.

Embracing Our Personal Relationships with Our Spiritual Nature

The heart is naturally generous, naturally open. In our natural condition, and when all is working well, love expresses itself in many ways. When the heart is open, it is a sensitive organ that loves because that is what it is here for. Just like the physical heart that keeps sending life into the cells as it pumps blood, our essential heart allows the nectars of our spirit to continuously flow. And we don’t have to run around physically hugging people; the heart is capable of hugging someone without their even knowing it. When we know the nature of love, we can begin to see that, in fact, our spiritual nature is what can embrace our personal relationships. And the richness that happens within a personal relationship, between two people, has a preciousness that helps us to become more and more able to love. Our personal relationships can open us up more, develop us more, and give us the opportunity to be more in touch with the freedom we cherish. But if we don’t know what real love is, those things do not happen easily.

Humanity is Just Beginning to Wake up to the Importance of Relationship and its Amazing Potential

In general, humanity is not well developed in its capacity for personal relating. We have a lot of trouble with violence, aggression, misunderstanding, disappointment, pain, wounding, and so on—all of it because we are not good at relationships. It is very easy to misunderstand somebody and get angry and become aggressive, or feel hurt, withdraw, and run away. But to remain in a relationship, to be real and interact in a way that not only avoids contraction or pain but that opens things up, that generates more richness, creates more openness and more freedom, is something that human beings are just beginning to learn. Throughout history, some people have been very good at that, but as a race, we are still immature. Humanity is just beginning to wake up to the importance of relationship and its amazing potential. This potential is immense, both for creating peace in the world and for personal actualization of human completeness. How are you going to actualize your compassion if it is not with other people? How are you going to actualize your love if not with other people? How are you going to realize, actualize, and embody your courage if it is not with other people? These days, it is rare that you would need courage for encountering a bear on the road; we usually need the courage to face a person, not a bear or a lion or a tiger. If we want to experience and express—either in general or with another person—divine eros, if we want that wonderful, pleasurable, turned-on quality in our lives, it is important for us to recognize, understand, and allow ourselves to open to experiencing some qualities that are specific to human relationships.

Inquiring, Especially into the Object Relationships We Enact in the World

If we inquire into our various relationships, especially the object relationships we enact in the world, we find many varieties, but underneath them, much more hidden than most forms of relationships, is the libidinal relationship. This is the powerful part of the ego-self that embodies the animal soul and all her tendencies, which becomes constellated around the infantile desire, hope, and wish for the wonderful object, the libidinal object that will gratify all of the soul’s needs and desires. The libidinal ego is the instinctual and infantile source of attachments and desires, and typically is split off from our conscious experience. Under normal circumstances, when we experience this deep, hidden part of our soul, it does not feel negative. We actually feel full of life and full of vigor when we experience ourselves as the libidinal soul. We are strong, full of passion, full of energy, brimming with a zest for life. But we are not going to let go of what we want and what we believe we have. We passionately hold on, wanting the riches of life and all the objects that promise gratification. If you become aware of the deepest image that this libidinal ego is holding on to, you see the image of a luscious breast. This is the initial image, the core image that the libidinal ego doesn’t want to let go of. It is a wonderful golden image, which we see full of all the essential qualities. At this early age, the spiritual and the animal forms of experience are not yet differentiated; they are interpenetrating. We find we have a deep lust for this object of gratification. The lust has a sense of wanting. The wanting we feel is powerful, passionate wanting, strong and robust. Because it is such a powerful force, many spiritual traditions, like Sufis or Christian mystics, try to direct that wanting toward God. If you truly manage to direct the libidinal impulse toward God, then realization becomes easy. That’s one reason why Sufi poetry talks about God as the Beloved, as though he is a woman or man with whom we are besotted. The soul is able to channel all that libidinal energy toward the transcendent reality.

Love Seen as an Appreciative Process of Clarification

If at some point a veil becomes rigid and stuck, love starts to wither and stagnate. For a relationship to mature and develop, the rending of the veils needs to continue. Both hearts need to become more transparent—roomier, emptier, more open, and less opaque. As this happens, the two souls will become more sensitive, clearer, and more transparent. More transparency brings more appreciation for each other, because appreciation and clarity go hand in hand. So, we are seeing that what Rumi calls love is basically an appreciative clarity, an appreciative process of clarification, a clarifying appreciation. In addition, when you love someone, not only do you want to see, but you tend to show yourself. Your veils start to drop and you become more you. You start shining and it is easier for the other to see more of who you are. You become more spontaneous, less self-conscious; and you start losing your head little by little as the heart takes over. That is what we think of as being in love, or as being with someone we love, or as being in a situation where there is love. It is a happy, appreciative kind of atmosphere in which we can just hang out and be easy.

Love Unveiled, pg. 17

Mature Relationships Allow the Expression of the Divine

When we are by ourselves, we experience our authenticity differently than when we are with another. And our experience of being with someone varies depending on whom we are with. We can be authentic and real in any situation, but what arises in us will differ depending on whether we are alone or interacting—and each interaction is unique. So each relationship, each interaction, is an opportunity for life to manifest its possibilities. It is an opportunity for the arising of divine eros. A mature relationship provides a place where we can express the divine in many different ways, such as friendly and kind, or pleasurable and playful; intimate and peaceful, or erotic and exciting—depending on the context and nature of the relationship.

Most of the Time We Don’t Know Exactly What’s Happening with Us

By now you probably have experienced various types of obstacles and impediments arising as you continue your inner practice of finding where you are and abiding there. You may be coming to the understanding that the obstacles to being where you are turn out to be the same as the obstacles to being yourself and that those are the same as the obstacles to reality and to realization. Understanding how these obstacles arise within your experience is a major factor in our practice. But there are additional factors that, once understood, can also make our practice simpler and easier. As we have seen, most of the time we don’t know exactly what’s happening with us. We know scattered bits and pieces, but it is difficult to see how they fit into one coherent manifestation. And we notice that even when we pay attention and are aware of our experience, we don’t automatically know where we are. Knowing where we are requires some clarity. It takes some inquiry. To further our understanding, a specific discrimination can be made to support our practice of finding where we are and letting ourselves be. That is, we can learn how to differentiate our experience into two parts: the primary component and the secondary components.

Negativity Displaces You From Real Relationship

So when something negative happens in relationship, whether you feel hurt or anger or frustration, and that event makes you forget about love, then you know you are engaged in a relationship that is not real. You are involved in your mind and not in the actuality of the situation. You are not perceiving the real situation. You are not perceiving yourself in a real way. You are not perceiving the other in a real way. You are not seeing the relationship in a real way. You are not in contact with the other person. You are only in contact with that part of your mind, but not with reality.

No Contact Happens Outside True Relationship

In your relationships with me, and with each other, with everyone in your life, you need to see what is happening, what the relationships are. If we do not clarify, perceive, and live according to the true relationship that is actually happening, there will be no contact. There will be no real relating. There will be only mental interaction, one image interacting with another image. There will not be a real human being relating to another human being; there will be your past interacting with someone else’s past. It is obvious how complicated that can be. If your personal history is interacting with someone else’s personal history, but you are not interacting with the other person, you are not really relating.

Nobody Chooses Who to be With

Relationships involve other things besides love. They require mutual respect, some kind of commonality between the two people, similar interests, support for each other, and so on. Another thing about relationships that always comes up around these questions is that you do not choose your relationships. I have never seen anybody choosing to be with somebody. You are thrown into a relationship and you are thrown out of it. Really, if you look at it, that is how it is. You never choose—nobody chooses who to be with. But when you are in a relationship, you definitely could choose to work on developing object love.

Love Unveiled, pg. 124

Openness Defines Real Relationships

A real relationship is, by definition, open, which means that it is open to further developments. When a relationship is open and real, we have a better opportunity to discover deeper dimensions of reality, sometimes more powerfully than just when we are by ourselves. This is one reason why having a teacher is more powerful than working by oneself. A relationship with another person—whether in a friendship, an intimate relationship, or a marriage—can be powerful for our inner journey if it is real and open to new possibilities. An energizing dynamic can occur when two forces are interacting with each other—two souls, two vortexes of consciousness, blending their energies together. You are not simply adding one to the other—it’s not like one plus one equals two. It is more powerful than that. This is due to what we call mutuality, where there is not only interaction but also mutual interest—a common interest in the truth and a mutual desire to know one another. This shared interest in the discovery of the truth becomes a mutual love for discovering each other at the same time as we discover ourselves. 

Openness to Being Affected by Another

It is possible to reach the point where we are not afraid of being affected or impacted by our friend or our partner. Not only aren’t we afraid, we feel we are strong enough, independent enough, to be affected by the other without feeling “I am going to lose myself.” We actually welcome being impacted because we understand that being affected is a natural part of relationship. A relationship cannot be real if the people do not affect each other. When there is empathy in the interaction in addition to presence, then mutual impact, mutual influence, can expand the relationship to an amazing depth and intensity.

Projecting the Dynamics of an Earlier Relationship Onto the Present One

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you are having an interaction with another person. It doesn’t have to be a highly charged situation; any interaction will reveal that you are reenacting a familiar pattern. You see the person in a certain way, you see yourself in a certain way, and you feel a certain way about how the two of you are relating. But even though your experience seems to be simply what is happening—you believe that you are just being where you are with that person—it is really formed by your accumulated knowledge and memories. The way you experience the interaction—and, in fact, almost any interaction—is a reenactment of an internalized experience of someone from our past. You are projecting the dynamics of an earlier relationship onto the present one and perceiving the present interaction through that veil. What is happening is not freely, spontaneously arising; you are forming it, you are making it be a certain way. And one indication of this is the fact that somebody else wouldn’t experience that person in the same way. You won’t see yourself as trying to be a certain way. You will think, “I’m just being who I am,” but it is not truly a spontaneously and freely arising experience. It is determined by your historical knowledge, your learned knowledge—all the beliefs and ideas about who you are and what other people are like and what reality is. It is influenced by your ordinary accumulated knowledge.

Reifying Relationship

When we relate to people only through our ideas about what we want and who we believe they are, it renders the relationship stagnant. Once you get to know somebody, that is just who they are. Little blips of newness may pop up here and there, but often we assume we know someone and then rigidify in our mind who we think they are. This reification of another not only limits our ability to continue knowing someone, but limits the relationship as well. There is a universe that neither of you can know yet, because it lies in the intermingling of your consciousnesses as the conduit for new awakenings. For the relational field to evolve, it is necessary to consider the person we are with in a way that allows the energetic field of consciousness to open up and be illuminated with the light of spirit. When this occurs in a conscious way, relationship is infused with the divine and is very much on earth at the same time.

Seeing the Beloved in Your Partner

Every reaction has within it the original pure energy that will optimize our evolution and our corporeal life. That pure energy is beckoning us. And the more we allow ourselves to be pulled by the One we love, the more that two people can meet as expressions of the One—two organs of perception peering into the vastness of each other’s being. What is possible for one’s individual consciousness is also possible for the blended consciousness of two individuals—but with an amplified and intensified potentiality. Two as one can bring more variation of depth and breadth to the process of realization than is possible on one’s own. You are able to see the Beloved in your partner and see your partner in yourself, like a hall of mirrors into the infinity of the infinite. You become a field of one, sensitive presence with the appearance of two, peering into the endless openness within one another.

The Basis of Real Relationship

A real relationship is based on real relating, where each person is as present as possible, with the mutual intention to be open to one another. The more present and open we are, and the more we have real contact—true connection—the stronger the possibility of real relating will be. The less we define the other or ourselves through past experiences and personal history, the more our actions and responses will be based on what is present or needed in the moment, and the more the relationship will be an expression of the new revealing itself through the relational field. This means too that we need to see the other as a person who is a universe of experience, who has knowledge, wisdom, sensitivity, experience, and a set of skills unique to him or her.

The Courageous Heart is Always Present

The courageous heart is the heart that is always present, regardless of what happens. If your heart is present only if good things happen, your heart is not yet free, not actualized. You are still a coward, still afraid. You have a heart, but not yet a courageous heart. So to have a true relationship, a real relationship means to manifest the courageous heart. To manifest the courageous heart means to continue loving regardless of the situation.

The Forces that Bring Two People Together are So Many and So Subtle that We Don’t Have Control Over Them

Student: What did you mean when you said that we don't choose our relationships?

Almaas: I did not mean you don’t feel that you choose your relationships. In fact, most of the time, you do feel that way. But if you try to find out why you are choosing one person instead of another, you will not be able to tell. The forces that bring two people together are so many and so subtle that we don't have control over them. And usually we are not even aware of them. You could talk about patterns such as ending up with someone like your mother or being drawn to men who cannot commit, and all that is true. But you could have those same patterns with many other people, so that doesn't really explain it. It is possible to look at the situation from a larger perspective, not from that of the individual but from the perspective of all of existence. Then we see that when two people get together, an overall pattern is unfolding in a certain way so that particular parts of the pattern can come closer for a certain period of time . . . even though the two people might eventually separate.

Love Unveiled, pg. 130

The Relational Field as a Living Medium

The sensitive field of the human being, which is a wave of the ocean of consciousness, is conscious beyond our physical body. We are a medium of aware and vibrant sensitivity, which is impressionable and usually patterned by our previous experiences. When we awaken to our nature, our experience changes. The new ways we experience ourselves challenge the old forms we have taken ourselves to be; we change into new forms and into formless realms of our nature as well. Having a real relationship follows the same principle. It is an evolution of two waves of consciousness interacting and interweaving as one field of consciousness, shifting form through the interchange. This is the relational field as a living medium. What does it mean to have a real relationship? What does it mean to come together and not be defining your friend, partner, wife, by the experiences you had of them last week? What would it mean to actually see, with fresh eyes, who they are right now? This doesn’t mean that you forget what has happened, who they are, or what their name is. It begins by taking the chance to open into the new, in the same way we do when we enter into our own experience and open that up.

We Project Our Patterns on Our Interpersonal Relationships

To see what is means to see the now, as it is. But to see the now as it is means to see without the influence of the past. In the various aspects of the work we’ve done, we have seen that many of our problems and illusions come from past experience. We have seen how we project our patterns on our interpersonal relationships, how we project our relationships with our parents and others in our early childhood onto our present life, how we react in ways that have nothing to do with the present. This is one way of seeing some of the more obvious psychological and emotional filters. We don’t see people the way they are; we see them according to our past experience. We are always projecting images and patterns of relationship that do not actually exist now. The most fundamental and subtlest of these projections is the projection of concepts. Concepts actually constitute the material of our experience. They constitute the content of our minds. We have seen how the mind is inseparable from the world we live in—that the world we believe we live in and our minds are not two things. We can come to a direct perception of this fact—it is not an idea. You can discover that the world you live in is determined by what you believe the world to be.

When the Relational Field Opens Up the Possibilities for Personal Expression

Realization is a very alone kind of process, where inner aloneness is necessary to realize our true being. Realization adds to the field in terms of knowing Being as your nature and not depending on the other for that knowing. A profound ground for a relationship is created when there are two who know themselves in this way. It also works in reverse: The two can discover their nature through the relationship. This is more rare but definitely possible, if we are truly open to learning, because in the relational field, interaction brings out parts of us that don’t come out easily any other way. The relational field opens up the possibilities of our personal expression a thousand-fold, allowing the arising and the understanding of our reactions and emotional patterns, the things we enjoy and delight in, the spiritual qualities of our nature, and so on. These potentials open the field further, and they continue to unfold indefinitely as we keep learning more through our interactions—not just with significant others, but in our daily interactions with many people.

Subscribe to the Diamond Approach