Osho Post #4

Okay, I am getting lazy 🙂 I don’t feel like I have the energy to describe why these quotes resonated with me, but I am betting most of you can figure out why 🙂

Here is your regular dose of Osho! Enjoy the words. Meditate, baby!

“Attachment is the desire that the partner should never change…Love knows nothing of attachment because love knows no possibility of falling from dignity….I am not saying that partners cannot change, but that it does not matter…Once your own understanding of love blossoms there is no question of attachment at all. You can go on changing your partners, that does not mean you are deserting anybody. You may come back again to the same partner, there is no question of any prejudice” (p23)
 
“Be true to love, and don’t bother about partners. Whether one partner or many partners is not the questions. The question is whether you are true to love” (p90)
“…if you can conceive love as your real being, and loving another person as a deep friendship, as a dance of two hearts together with such synchronicity that they become almost one, you don’t need any other spirituality. You have found it” (p27)

Food & Love

J and I had an amazing conversation last night, during which I connected some seemingly disparate things. It was really helpful in my continued self-growth.

We were talking about my family, and my mom’s tendency (even now) to control her family’s behaviors. Especially food-related behaviors. I was spared the brunt of these tendencies growing up, because I was hyper-conscious of my food intake, and stayed a reasonably healthy weight the whole time growing up. My dad and younger sister, though, have had to deal with a ton of negative messages, both direct and subtle. It seems like the more control that my mom has tried to instill around meals and food, the more both my dad and sister have resisted her, and it tends to create behaviors opposite from what she desires (aka they might eat more, or eat the “wrong” foods, etc). (This was one way that control as love was established within my family, and continues on. Clearly, my mom loves my dad and sister-and me- and wants what is best for everyone. She wants people to be healthy and to feel good about themselves. But she has projected her own needs onto others in a controlling way. That is how she has shown her concern and love. Thank you, counseling, for helping to connect all of these dots. Whew)

While I wasn’t the receiver of the same messages, I witnessed them. I was a super hyper-conscious eater from the time I was 13 until I was in college. I put myself through a couple of very restrictive diets, and was obsessed with my food intake, my weight, and body image. It appeared that I had my weight “under control,” but mentally, I was suffering for a long time. In our junior year of college, J and I met with a nutritional counselor (J, too, struggled with similar things growing up, and witnessed similar control patterns in his family around food). This woman was our saving grace. She gave us the book Intuitive Eating. We read it, and have re-read it several times. And I know for myself (and I think J would agree for himself) that it changed my life.

The book is all about how the diet mentality has sabotaged people’s natural abilities to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, and people’s natural tendencies to truly enjoy food, to gain pleasure from it. One thing I remember most from the book is the authors’ idea that children know how to eat naturally; they eat until they are full and then they stop (given sufficient access to it), and that their food variety naturally balances our over time. As we get older, we are told how to eat by parents and society. The diet mentality hits full force, telling us that we don’t know how to eat, that we shouldn’t eat certain foods, that foods we might not enjoy we should eat anyway. Our internal compass gets totally and completely screwed up. Foods get imbued with emotional meaning, and we put them on a pedestal. We crave them more. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Instead, if you let yourself eat what you want, when you want, and strive to pay attention to your natural hunger signals and cycles, that you will naturally balance out to your natural weight. 

One of the biggest requirements in the book is that you have to give up the diet mentality. You just have to let it go. You have to let the fear go that you will pack on the pounds if you stop dieting. You have to believe that dieting really does not work long-term. You have to change your food paradigm. And that takes giving up an external structure, take back individual control, and relearning to pay attention to your individual needs.

Okay, so here is my connection to my own journey with our open relationship. I have been working on giving up control. Giving up the idea that I can control my partner(s). Giving up all of my underlying fears: that I will be lonely. that J will leave me for someone else. that J will find me less desirable in favor of someone else. blah blah blah. In fact, this article on jealousy from Franklin Veaux articluated this process perfectly. Here is the excerpt that I am talking about:

The nice thing about doing this is that you can, if you have isolated the emotional response beneath the jealousy and identified positive ways to deal with it directly, end up in a position where you don’t feel jealous any more. Even when your partner does the things that used to trigger the jealousy. You just don’t feel jealous any more. You do not need to pass rules banning certain behavior and you do not need to veto someone, because you don’t feel jealous any more.
The downside, though, is that your irrational fear will fight to protect itself; it won’t go down easy. The thought process goes like this:
“If my partner does these things with someone of the same sex as me, then I might lose my partner, because someone else might give him the same things I give him. If I lose my fear of losing my partner, I will no longer have a reason to ask my partner not to do these things. If I don’t have a reason to ask my partner not to do these things, then my partner will do them, because I know he wants to do them. If my partner does these things, I will lose my partner, because then someone else will give him the same things I give him. So I better not get over my fear, because if I get over my fear, then I won’t have a reason to ask him not to do these things, and that means he’ll do these things, and that means…I’ll lose him!”
And ’round and ’round it goes. You don’t want to lose the fear, because you’re afraid something bad will happen, and you can’t give up the fear of something bad happening because if you do…you’re afraid something bad will happen.”

I just have to give up the fear. I just have to. It just needs to be gone. Gone, I say! 

(An aside: Something that my dad actually said to me the other day with regards to a totally unrelated issue was: “Don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. It’s fine.” It has been an amazing mantra for me with regards to open stuff that causes me angst. I say to myself: “Don’t make it a bigger deal than it is. It’s fine.” Similarly, this reminds me of J’s brother when he talked to us about J’s parents once. He remarked that they make life so much more difficult than it needs to be. “Life is as simple or difficult as you want it to be!” I have been mantra-ing that to myself as well: “Keep it simple!” These have been really helpful internal messages in feeling my fears truly dissipate.)

And actually, having these two processes now connected in my mind between my food and love behaviors was incredibly helpful. It feels a little dorky to write about it in this way, but it also makes a ton of sense to me. Both food and sex/love are basic human needs. Everyone needs food, and beyond that, everyone desires on some level to be pleasured and nourished emotionally by the food they eat. And everyone needs love and physical touch, which requires real human connection and intimacy. Also, knowing that I have been successful over the long-term with changing my food paradigm makes me even more confident in my abilities to rewire my neural network around love and sex.

And more about that. I was telling J the other night that I remember feeling much more poly when I was younger. (I would say, before I hit puberty. Once puberty hit, all of those societal messages around “one romantic love” hit me in full force). I grew up in a loving home, in a religious community that espouses individual search for truth and meaning and respect for everyone and interdpendence (and of course, there is, as I have now discovered, a UU poly community and organization). This realization has reminded me that I do have a deeper foundation for fundamentally understanding and operating within a poly framework

Food and love. Treat yourself well: love yourself and nourish your body, deeply. Keep it simple. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Give up the fear. Truly. Let it go. Be responsible for yourself. That’s all you can do.

Osho Post #3

Have you heard that old relationship advice? “Never expect your partner to change.” That advice only resonates with me so far. The way I see it, you probably should be happy with your partner day-to-day, feel like your values are in congruence, and that the principles that you live by and strive to live by are similar. But people change. Relationships change. And, like the passage below describes, it can be quite true that people change day-to-day. The present is different than the past. Relate again, and discover each other always. I love the below passage.

“To think that you know your wife is very, very ungrateful. How can you know the woman? How can you know the man? They are processes, not things. The woman that you knew yesterday is not there today. So much water has gone down the Ganges; she is somebody else, totally different. Relate again, start again, don’t take it for granted…
Relating means you are always starting, you are continuously trying to become acquainted. Again and again, you are introducing yourself to each other…You are trying to unravel a mystery that cannot be unraveled. That is the joy of love: the exploration of consciousness.
And if you relate, and don’t reduce it to a relationship, then the other will become a mirror to you. Exploring him, unawares you will be exploring yourself, too. Getting deeper into the other, knowing his feelings, his thoughts, his deeper stirrings, your will be knowing your own deeper stirrings, too. Lovers become mirrors to each other, and the love becomes a meditation…
In relationship both persons become blind to each other…
Just your eyes become old, your assumptions become old, your mirror gathers dust and you become incapable of reflecting the other” (p56-7)

Here is another quote I loved as I read this Osho book. I am going to let it stand on its own. I have nothing to add right now 🙂

“…if love is there, your love the person more because you know. If is there, it survives. If it is not there it disappears. Both are good.
To an ordinary state of mind, what I call love is not possible. It happens only when you have a very integrated being. Love is a function of the integrated being. It is not romance, it has nothing to do with these foolish things. It goes directly to the person and looks into the soul. Love then is a sort of affinity with the innermost being of the other person–but then it is totally different…
But I am not saying that one has to cling. One has to be alert and aware. If your love consists of just these foolish things, it will disappear. It is not worth bothering about. But if it is real, then through turmoils it will survive. So just watch…” (p61)

More Osho: Intentionality, Actions, Relearning, Work

A little meditation for this Christmas day. I am a cultural Christmas celebrator, not a religious one, and I appreciate taking away the commercial and materialistic aspects and focusing on reflection, introspection, gratitude, and family.

“In Latin there is a dictum: agere sequitur esse— to do follows to be; action follows being. It is tremendously beautiful. Don’t try to change your action– try to find out your being, and action will follow. The action is secondary; being is primary. Action is something that you do; being is something that you are. Action comes out of you, but action is just a fragment. Even if all of your actions are collected together they will not be equal to your being because all actions collected together will be your past. What about your future? Your being contains your past, your future, your present; your being contains your eternity. Your actions, even if all collected, will just be of the past. Past is limited, future is unlimited. That which has happened is limited; it can be defined, it has already happened. That which has not happened is unlimited, undefinable. Your being contains eternity, your actions contain only your past.
So it is possible that a man who has never been a sinner up to this moment can become a saint the next. Never judge a man by his actions, judge a man by his being. Sinners have become saints and saints have fallen and become sinners. Each saint has a past and each sinner has a future.
Never judge a man by his actions. But there is no other way, because you have not known even your own being–how can you see the being of others? Once you know your own being you will learn the language, you will know the clue of how to look into another’s being. You can see into others only to the extent that you can see into yourself. If you have seen yourself through and through, you become capable of seeing into others through and through” (p220)

This passage resonated with me, because it is something that J and I frequently find disagreement over. He has a really difficult time finding stability in our relationship and trusting that it will continue to grow and change, that it is dynamic, when my past behavior has at times been contrary to the kind of relationship he wants to create. I have total faith in myself that I am a dynamic individual and that the person I will be in a year will be different than who I am now. I have confidence that the commitment I have to myself and to our relationship dictates my intentions and future behavior, even though I know at the same time I will never be perfect. It has been really challenging at times for me to demonstrate this idea to J, and I feel like this idea creates recurring strife. My hope is that we can both continue to have dynamic experiences that show that both of us have the capacity and ability to change, and a commitment to working together.

[Edit, 12/26: J read this post. He pointed out that there was much in this passage that did resonate with him, and that I glossed over those points. He was a bit hurt that I thought that he would be so against this passage. He really liked the following lines: “Don’t try to change your action– try to find out your being, and action will follow. The action is secondary; being is primary.” and Never judge a man by his actions. But there is no other way, because you have not known even your own being–how can you see the being of others?” Thank you J for having a positive conversation with me about this and being willing to engage on this topic with me!! xoxo)
 
“Many times I say learn the art of love, but what I really mean is: Learn the art of removing all that hinders love. It is a negative process. It is like digging a well: You go on removing many layers of earth, stones, rocks, and then suddenly there is water. The water was always there; it was an undercurrent. Now you have removed all the barriers, the water is available. So is love: Love is the undercurrent of your being. It is already flowing, but there are many rocks, many layers of earth to be removed. 
That’s what I mean when I say learn the art of love. It is really not learning love but unlearning the ways of unlove” (p81)

I really like this one. Unlearning the ways of unlove. That phrase feels pretty accurate for me in describing the kind of work I am doing. It takes a lot of introspection and capacity to feel pain to break through to the more relaxed, peaceful, and contented feelings. But I feel like every day I glimpse more and more into the self I want to totally be, and that is lovely.

“…if you want to rise in consciousness, if you want to rise in the world of beauty, truth, bliss, then you are longing for the highest peaks possible and that certainly is difficult” (p106)
I like this quote a lot for its simplicity and truth. It is really difficult at times. Very worth it, but difficult.

Family Concerns

Going home for the holidays inevitably means that J and I will find similarity and difference with each of our families. But it seems even more happened this past week/weekend.

Last week, J and I visited with two of J’s friends. One, a long-time friend (woman), and the other an ex-girlfriend-now-friend. J’s mom seriously does not understand how this is okay with me. The truth is, I enjoy both of these people’s company a ton, and love socializing with both. It so happened that the night that J and I saw his ex-girlfriend he and I later had a heated conversation about something totally unrelated and I ended up crying myself to sleep. We are assuming that J’s mom heard me crying, and linked the two situations. She sent J an email early the next morning explaining in extremely vague terms that she was upset, and hadn’t been excited about our wedding since we started planning it. She did not say why she was upset, did not say what she needed, etc. It was a prime example of communication lacking meta-communication and specifics. J told her that same day that she could come talk to both of us, but she never did. 

The email colored our whole time at home with J’s family, because J and I talked a ton about the possibility of our conversation with her evolving into a coming out” conversation. In thinking about coming out to J’s parents, it became quite apparent that we would have to approach the topic as a more “closed” idea on our end; that is, that we would not be looking for input or advice. However, we would definitely have to approach in a more conversational way, and not like a confrontation (despite having some intuition that it would likely devolve into one). The topic would need to be gentle and compassionate. We would need to feel open to answering questions and providing explanation, but also recognize our capacity for hearing negative comments.

We are both so thankful for the relationship that we do have with J’s brother and sister-in-law. They know about everything, and can talk to us in a very honest and real way about all of this. Thank goodness they were also home and were able to listen to us, relate to us, and provide feedback on the situation. It was a good reminder that it is very possible to have positive and deep relationships with family members.

In one of the conversations J and I had, we talked a lot about how much of what we appreciate about our open relationship are “smaller” things, that perhaps some (or many) monogamous couples have as part of their relationship: having opposite sex friends, having emotional intimacy with friends, the ability to flirt as part of a natural expression of relating to others. It is quite clear from the email J received that having emotional intimacy with opposite-sex friends is not okay in J’s parents monogamous relationship, let alone flirting. I am deeply grateful for these “smaller” aspects that we can enjoy; they are very important to both of us. And it actually provides me comfort, in knowing that those things were not okay when we were monogamous. It is just a slow process to become accustomed to things and unlearn old and re-learn new ways of relating.

J’s mom’s un-excitement about our wedding, we are fairly sure, is related to the fact that neither of us wants kids. It seems that J’s mom sees this as meaning that J and I are not with the right people; i.e., if we were with the “right” person, we would want kids. So because we don’t, we clearly aren’t in the “right” relationship, and therefore, a wedding is stupid. How could she be excited for it if she sees our relationship as doomed?

I now have this to let go of. Letting go of having J’s mom as a true source of emotional support for our relationship, even one that she perceives to be monogamous. Letting go of having a more authentic and deep relationship with J’s parents. Letting go of having my true self seen by family members. Letting go, letting go, letting go. Make peace, make peace, make peace.

Osho’s Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships

FYI:

ko·an  

/ˈkōˌän/
Noun
A paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment

I finally finished Osho’s Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships. While there is a substantial amount that I mentally tossed aside (the heteronormativity, homophobia, the narrow focus on the negative impacts of religious institutions), there was also a substantial amount that resonated with me.

I had a ton of favorite passages. It took me a long time to type them all up. I decided I would take a few at a time and write some about why they resonated with me, and why they meshed with my open relationship experience. I might choose to do a few every week, to keep my meditation and reflection on the book going longer-term.

Let’s do this:

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“A relationship is a koan. And unless you have solved a more fundamental thing about yourself, you cannot solve it. The problem of love can be solved only when the problem of meditation has been solved, not before it. Because it is really two nonmeditative persons who are creating the problem. Two persons who are in confusion, who don’t know who they are–naturally they multiply each other’s confusion, they magnify it” (p70)

So many of his ideas feel obvious to me. Of course if one person does not truly know herself and then gets together with another who does not know him/herself either that those individual challenges multiply and manifest in even larger ways. When I consider how pretty much all of our challenges in our open relationship are related to our individual insecurities and not our actual relationship security or health, I am extremely motivated to continue my self-growth and exploration. J and I have recently been discussing the idea of a relationship as a vehicle for self-growth, and how neither of us had ever really thought of our relationship in this way. But it is actually a very useful framework for me, especially since I have a lot of self-growth that I am working on. This kind of framework helps bolster my appreciation for our open relationship structure and keeps me feeling positive about the work I do, even when it feels difficult.

“Love is denied so much–and love is the rarest thing in the world; it should not be denied. If a man can love five persons, he should love five. If a man can love fifty, he should love fifty. If a man can love five hundred, he should love five hundred. Love is so rare that the more you can spread it the better. But… you are forced into a narrow, very narrow, corner…the conditions are too much. It is as if there was a law that you can breathe only when you are with your wife, you can breathe only when you are with your husband. Then breathing will become impossible!” (p116)
“Love is breathing. Breathing is the life of the body and love is the life of the soul. It is far more important than breathing. Now when your husband goes out, you make it a point that he should not laugh with anybody else, at least not with any other women. He should not be loving to anybody else. So for twenty-three hours he is unloving, then for one hour when he is in bed with you, he pretends to love? You have killed his love, it is flowing no more. If for twenty-three hours he has to remain a yogi, holding his love, afraid, do you think he can relax suddenly for one hour? It is impossible” (p143)

These last two passages are a little bit painful for me, simply because I know this kind of dynamic described is very similar to what happens between J and I. When I “freak out” about J’s closeness with another partner, he then feels like he cannot enjoy a closeness with another person, and then he also does not feel close to me. The metaphor of breathing pretty accurately describes the outcome for us when I have a hard time accepting his intimacy with another partner. I don’t act on those feelings (ie, ask him not to have intimacy with another), but my feelings can have a similar effect on his behavior as though I had actually asked him to maintain more distance. These passages are painful, because they hit close to my experience of struggling to give up control, feeling badly for negatively impacting J’s relationships and experiences, and feeling sad that the end result is that he and I are not as close. Thankfully, this is a process that we are changing. I do not act on my feelings, although it is still necessary for me to talk about them calmly with J and ask for lots of reassurance.

Letting Go

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.”  ~Joseph Campbell

This post, I realize, is very similar to the one I wrote about a week ago (It Will Be)… But I have been continually working on this concept: letting go of attachment and fear and control. It’s just a little hard. It’s usually really helpful for me to read what others say about a subject. So this post is dedicated to other writers who can write about letting go more knowledgeably and artfully than I can 🙂

I really love this article on letting go. It’s really fantastic. Here are some different excerpts I really like:
“Accept the moment for what it is. Don’t try to turn it into yesterday; that moment’s gone. Don’t plot about how you can make the moment last forever. Just seep into the moment and enjoy it because it will eventually pass. Nothing is permanent. Fighting that reality will only cause you pain.
Hold lightly. This one isn’t just about releasing attachments—it’s also about maintaining healthy relationships. Contrary to romantic notions, you are not someone’s other half. You’re separate and whole. You can still hold someone to close to your heart; just remember, if you squeeze too tightly, you’ll both be suffocated.
Love instead of fearing. When you hold onto the past, it often has to do with fear: fear you messed up your chance at happiness, or fear you’ll never know such happiness again. Focus on what you love and you’ll create happiness instead of worrying about it.    
Release the need to know. Life entails uncertainty, no matter how strong your intention. Obsessing about tomorrow wastes your life because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There are no guarantees about how it will play out. Just know it hinges on how well you live today.
Understand that pain is unavoidable. No matter how well you do everything on this list, or on your own short list for peace, you will lose things that matter and feel some level of pain. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
Yield to peace. The ultimate desire is to feel happy and peaceful. Even if you think you want to stay angry, what you really want is to be at peace with what happened or will happen. It takes a conscious choice. Make it.”

I also really enjoy this brief post on non-clinging/non-attachment. Here is the one piece that really resonated with me:
“We take anger as me, as my anger, rather than simply a feeling that will pass, that I can let go of. We take the desire for more as my desire, to be acted upon, rather than as simply a thought or feeling that will pass. We take all our thoughts and feeling reactions far too seriously, as if we were just thoughts and reactions. When we cling to a thought, we become that thought.”

Also, this post on seven ways to let go has some useful tidbits packed pretty succinctly 🙂 I really liked it.