As long as we base our relationships on mundane issues such as the need for space, need for recognition, need for affection and so on, our life remains a compromise and an accommodation with others. As long as we favour creature comforts such as the desire to make (more and more) money, to travel, to chat, to eat well, etc., we stagnate with people who live an aimless life. Two egos bound together will remain two egos if the principles by which they live are not changed. It is only those who are united in their aspiration to live to the highest ideals who can grow psychologically and spiritually through life. Therefore, the best way to have happy relationships is to organize one’s life around high ideals and find someone who wishes to live up to those same ideals. Undoubtedly, there will still be conflicts but these will have to be resolved in favour of high ideals rather than personal predilections. There is no right answer here. Life has to be lived to discover the Truth. These are some observations by the Mother Mirra Alfassa on this topic, which are worth reflecting upon.
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
The ascending levels at which a relationship can be lived
In this passage, the Mother Mirra Alfassa outlines the ascending levels at which a marriage can be lived.
To unite your physical lives, your material interests, to become partners in order to face together the difficulties and successes, the defeats and victories of life that is the very foundation of marriage, but you already know that it is not enough.
To be united in your sensations, to have the same aesthetic tastes and enjoyments, to be moved in common by the same things, one through the other and one for the other that is good, that is necessary, but it is not enough.
To be one in your deeper feelings, to keep a mutual affection and tenderness that never vary in spite of all the blows of life and can withstand every weariness and irritation and disappointment, to be always and on every occasion happy, extremely happy, to be together, to find in every circumstance tranquillity, peace and joy in each other that is good, that is very good, that is indispensable, but it is not enough.
To unite your minds, to harmonise your thoughts and make them complementary, to share your intellectual preoccupations and discoveries; in short, to make your sphere of mental activity identical through a widening and enrichment acquired by both at once that is good, that is absolutely necessary, but it is not enough.
Beyond all that, in the depths, at the centre, at the summit of the being, there is a Supreme Truth of being, an Eternal Light, independent of all the circumstances of birth, country, environment, education; That is the origin, cause and master of our spiritual development; it is That which gives a permanent direction to our lives; it is That which determines our destinies; it is in the consciousness of That that you must unite. To be one in aspiration and ascension, to move forward at the same pace on the same spiritual path, that is the secret of a lasting union.
The Mother, Words of the Mother – II: Marriage and Children
Choosing between human love and Divine love
(Those who are drawn to a spiritual life are expected to survive by Divine Love but, being human, they also possess a residual desire for human love. This creates a quandary where one has to chose between two extremes. In this passage, the Mother points out that the best way to resolve this dilemma is to go behind the appearance of human love and transmute it – to make it pure and impersonal – and grow out of it.)
Question. It is said that to become conscious of divine Love all other love has to be abandoned. What is the best way of rejecting the other love which clings so obstinately [laughter] and does not easily leave us?
Mother: To go through it. To go through, to see what is behind it, not to stop at the appearance, not to be satisfied with the outer form, to look for the principle which is behind this love, and not be content until one has found the *origin* of the feeling in oneself. Then the outer form will crumble of itself and you will be in contact with the divine Love which is behind all things.
That is the best way. To want to get rid of the one in order to find the other is very difficult. It is almost impossible. For human nature is so limited, so full of contradictions and so exclusive in its movements that if one wants to reject love in its lower form, that is to say, human love as human beings experience it, if one makes an inner effort to reject it, one usually rejects the entire capacity of feeling love and becomes like a stone. And then sometimes one has to wait for years or centuries before there is a reawakening in oneself of the capacity to receive and manifest love.
Therefore, the best way when love comes, in whatever form it may be, is to try and pierce through its outer appearance and find the divine principle which is behind and which gives it existence. Naturally, it is full of snares and difficulties, but it is more effective. That is to say, instead of ceasing to love because one loves wrongly, one must cease to love wrongly and want to love well.
For instance, love between human beings, in all its forms, the love of parents for children, of children for parents, of brothers and sisters, of friends and lovers, is all tainted with ignorance, selfishness and all the other defects which are man’s ordinary drawbacks; so instead of completely ceasing to love – which, besides, is very difficult as Sri Aurobindo says, which would simply dry up the heart and serve no end – one must learn how to love better: to love with devotion, self-giving, self-abnegation, and to struggle, not against love itself, but against its distorted forms: against all forms of monopolising, of attachment, possessiveness, jealousy, and all the feelings which accompany these main movements. Not to want to possess, to dominate; and not to want to impose one’s will, one’s whims, one’s desires; not to want to take, to receive, but to give; not to insist on the other’s response, but be content with one’s own love; not to seek one’s personal interest and joy and the fulfilment of one’s personal desire, but to be satisfied with the giving of one’s love and affection; and not to ask for any response. Simply to be happy to love, nothing more.
If you do that, you have taken a great stride forward and can, through this attitude, gradually advance farther in the feeling itself, and realise one day that love is not something personal, that love is a universal divine feeling which manifests through you more or less finely, but which in its essence is something divine.
The first step is to stop being selfish. For everyone, it is the same thing, not only for those who want to do yoga but also in ordinary life: if one wants to know how to love, one must not love oneself first and above all selfishly; one must give oneself to the object of love without exacting anything in return. This discipline is elementary in order to surmount oneself and lead a life which is not altogether gross.
As for yoga, we may add something else: it is as I said in the beginning, the will to pierce through this limited and human form of love and discover the principle of divine Love which is behind it. Then one is sure to get a result. This is better than drying up one’s heart. It is perhaps a little more difficult but it is better in every way, for like this, instead of egoistically making others suffer, well, one may leave them quiet in their own movement and only make an effort to transform oneself without imposing one’s will on others, which even in ordinary life is a step towards something higher and a little more harmonious.
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 19 September 1956
Above all, seek refuge in Divine Love alone
Finally, there is one thing which must be learned in life (and it is a difficult lesson for sure) and that is to understand that all human beings are imperfect. As long as one relies on the love of others, one risks disappointment and more at some future stage. One has to firmly set anchor in the Divine alone as the Mother points out here.
There is one thing you must learn, never to rely on anyone or anything whatever except the Divine. For if you lean upon anyone for support, that support will break, you may be sure of that. From the minute you start doing yoga (I always speak of those who do yoga, I do not speak about ordinary life), for those who do yoga, to depend upon someone else is like wanting to transform that person into a representative of the Divine Force; now you may be sure there is not one in a hundred million who can carry the weight: he will break immediately. . . .Never seek a support elsewhere than in the Divine. Never seek satisfaction elsewhere than in the Divine. Never seek the satisfaction of your needs in anyone else except the Divine – never, for anything at all. All your needs can be satisfied only by the Divine. All your weaknesses can be borne and healed only by the Divine. He alone is capable of giving you what you need in everything, always, and if you try to find any satisfaction or support or help or joy or… heaven knows what, in anyone else, you will always fall on your nose one day, and that always hurts, sometimes even hurts very much.”
The Mother, Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 5 May 1951