In Relationships
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To a Buddha, a relationship is perhaps a misery-inducing entanglement. And to a Krishna, it is a pleasurable enchantment. To me, both are just perspectives, useful ones at that.

What matters more is our personal truth around this deeply karmic subject, our as-lived experience, the distilled essence of the way life has treated us in this domain.


The mathematics of relationships is however pretty warped. The pleasure that one reaps in a relationship – the proportion of fun and delight – is relatively smaller and the pain it induces by the side – the proportion of drag (at best) and misery (at worst) – is far larger. Almost appears as if the very design is questionable.

Or to look at it more objectively, perhaps the pain and the pleasure is balanced in quantity. However owing to some inherent perceptual biases, we humans tend to highlight the pain and overlook the pleasure. Either ways, at the end of the day, the felt-experience of pain seems to outweigh the felt-experience of pleasure, by a long haul.

What do we do about this? How do we navigate through this turbulent terrain? One thing that has certainly helped me in my life is to know the sacred purpose behind all relationships. Once we have the context sorted, it becomes easier to navigate the predicament that relationships are.


I earlier had only one context for relationships – that they are meant to be a source of delight. That we relate to one and all because relating is fun, relating is warm, relating heartens the soul. We are social beings after all. No wonder that is true. However, only half-true.

However all in all, I have only gained from mucky relationships. They have left me stronger and wiser. After many years of being resentful, now I finally don’t bemoan the agonies they gave me as much as I applaud the breakthroughs they brought about. So my personal truth is that relationships are teachers, tutors of the highest kind, task-masters with ironically our highest interests at their callous-looking hearts.

The yang to the yin is that we relate because relationships ripen our souls. The inherent complications they entail, rip open our hearts and inflict sore wounds. These wounds get our closed hearts to finally feel, move, behave human and allow joy in its wake.

Another context – as a Krishnamurthy would say – is that relationships hold a mirror in our face making our dysfunctions obvious; they help us see how out-of-the-moment we live. I feel they help us see how screwed up we are. And knowing our screwed-up-ness paves the path to our eventual non-screwed-up-ness. The God of Relationships teaches through contrast.

Imagine what it can do for you when you hold this balanced context in the face of all relational agony. Yes, we require contexts only when it is all going wrong. While it is all bells and roses, it is okay to let go of all contexts and just make the most of the experience. Flowing with it no-holds-barred is the only way we can savour some delight.

But yes, we do require coping mechanisms for the pain in the offing. And it is the correct context that helps us cope.

And when we have this context – that the prime purpose of relationships is to serve as our tough teacher – it helps. It may not take away the drag and the pain, but it can surely make it much more manageable.

It can help us retain some valuable sanity in the face of overwhelming complexities that relationships throw into our face. And this sanity gives us the elbow room to work through the agony, a little at a time until we chip it all away, eventually coming out with flying colours, wiser than before.

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