Unless and until you access the consciousness frequency of presence, all relationships, and particularly intimate relationships, are deeply flawed and ultimately dysfunctional. – Eckhart Tolle
The most important thing to say about relationship is that all there is is relationship. And with that, in line with what Eckhart Tolle tells us, the requirement for healthy relationship is presence, not just physical presence, no, there must be conscious presence, presence with the characteristic of connected consciousness energy, and for there to be connected consciousness energy, there must be interest, concern, the experience of connection, even love.
First, let’s examine the statement, “all there is is relationship.” From the moment we wake in the morning till we go to sleep at night, and even in our sleep in the form of dreams, we are relating to ourselves, are we not? We are experiencing the multidimensionality that marks the reality of every person. Always, arising in the awareness that is our essence is the content and experience of our mind, our body and our circumstances. Then, with every object we encounter, every person, every phenomenon of Life, there is the relationship of “me” with what we are encountering and experiencing, while simultaneously we experience the mind deciding what it thinks and feels about what we are relating to.
With what and who we focus upon and relate to, our relationships tend to be utilitarian. We are concerned whether we like or dislike “this,” will we benefit or be harmed by “this?” This is generally called a subject (me) – object (it or you) relationship, and is hardly conducive to high quality relationship. By focusing only on the utility or threat of the contents of our experience, we fail to experience the true and deep connections that are possible.
And then there is all that we do not focus on, that with which we appear not to be in relationship – but of course, not relating is relating and it is the poorest quality of relating. If typically, we live in a rather narrow focus, say 10% of what is present in any given moment (and that is generous), then 90% of what is available to us goes generally unnoticed. If we call what we focus upon our life-interest or circumstance, and it is in the foreground of our consciousness, then this background that goes unnoticed is Life itself. That these poor-quality relationships dominate our lives is diagnostic of why we struggle as individuals, as families, as groups, even as a species, to make sense of Life and to manifest peace and well-being.
As for our relationship with ourselves, we are seldom in true conscious presence with the experience of ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions, sensations, perceptions, the phenomenon of awareness in which all experience occurs, mostly go unnoticed. They are the water we fish swim in. Only when the experience is troubling, do we pay attention and then usually only with thought, which is the poorest medium to process and understand our experience. We think about what troubles us, but this does us little good, weaving ever more complicated and tangling webs of confusion. We may pay a counselor or therapist to help us think about our experience, and if the counselor or therapist is any good, they will direct us to our feelings, and ultimately to our intuition, which means really connecting with the experience in our totality, and perhaps we will have an insight, and we will thank the therapist without really noticing that the feeling and intuition is ours. The presence, insights and actions of the therapist simply led us to that which is already within us.
Sometimes, on our own, we will tune into our feelings, and into the silent presence behind our swirling thoughts and emotions, into the realm of intuition, and an insight will lead us to some clarity. We take a walk, a bath, listen to some music, chop some wood, go for a drive, pet our dog or cat, maybe we meditate. Out of this no-activity of the mind can arise knowing, called insight or intuition, an intelligence far deeper and wiser than thinking, and perhaps, insight will lead even to peace in the midst of turmoil. This accessing insight is never new. We knew about it all along, we’ve done and experienced the arising of insight, of peace, before, but we had forgotten.
So it is with personal relationships. We all know what is happening when relationships are clear, fulfilling, and flowing. We are in “the vibrational frequency of presence.” We also all know what is happening when a relationship is in conflict and difficulty. We are in our defensive separateness. Again, we may go to a relationship counselor, and the counselor, if any good, will bring us into shared presence, – and we will think the therapist is a genius when what they did was bring us into what we always had and knew as the secret to a fulfilling life and relationship – into shared presence – but we had forgotten.
Our culture tells us we are our thoughts and emotions, never that we are intuition, the mind’s “vibrational frequency of presence.” Never in our schooling is this dimension, the source of true intelligence, pointed out and cultivated. This lack of recognition and development of intuition, of silent presence, as the source of wisdom, of true intelligence, of knowing and of love, is a great tragedy.
We all know that when a close relationship descends into argument and conflict that resolution and healing occur when either through insight or exhaustion, we drop whatever has separated us and we re-approach each other in genuine presence. But we forget that relationship exists and thrives only in shared presence. Everything about our culture emphasizes our individuality and our right to competitive assertion, so, over and over again, we fall back into self-absorption, separateness, and argument. Most relationships have us existing on parallel planes of shared activity and interest where the communication and contact is superficial, the conscious presence that is the life-blood of true and healthy relationship mostly neglected and forgotten. Only occasionally and usually accidentally do we come into full presence, and it is these moments that sustain any relationship.
“True communication is communion – the realization of oneness, which is love.” – Tolle
With ourselves and with our loved ones, moments of communion, of true presence, are rare. So much more so with those we have casual, little or no personal association with. Humanity suffers because we labor under the delusion that there is a me and you, us and other, with mutually exclusive interests and needs. We never consider the anonymous people who flow by our person every day, much less those outside the sphere of our physical presence and circle of interest. We communicate at people, seldom truly with people, let alone rise to the level of “communion.” Why not?
No one ever teaches us to bring to the level of consciousness the realization that all that is beautiful happens through presence and communion, through the dissolving of separateness to experience oneness, love. Oh, our religions suggest it, but we generally prefer the religious instructions that are moralistic and sectarian to the teachings of brotherhood, forgiveness, union, love, and mystical presence. We think the real world is competition and self-absorption. And, sadly then, this is the world we create. But this way lays madness, what Buddhism calls “egoic delusion.”
Our relationship with Nature, with Life, and even with Spirit, is likewise impoverished by our forgetting that it is in the moments of deep presence, possibly, of awe and wonder, where the sense of self dissolves into “the vibrational frequency of presence” that all that is meaningful happens, and where true religious experience can occur. Many times in life we have experienced this. It is why we seek out experiences in Nature that are so vast and overwhelming that we forget ourselves – at the sea, on a mountain, in the desert. It is why we go to a great cathedral, or attend spiritual rituals. But it is not the sea, the mountain, or the desert, the cathedral or the ritual that is spiritual. It is our own deepest self in pure presence that is spiritual, for it is indeed Spirit, but we forget this.
It can happen in our own front yard with our dog, with a bird, a flower, a cloud in the sky. It can happen with family members and friends, with total strangers, if we remember it is who we are at our deepest level. It is in the “vibrational frequency of presence,” with ourselves, with our family, with our friends and acquaintances, with our dog or cat, with the strangers whose path we cross, even with the unknown peoples of the world, and with Nature, both small and vast, that knows “the peace that surpasseth understanding.” It is called communion. It is called love. It is true Presence. Practiced at levels of subtlety and ubiquity, it is what heals us, our relationships, and it can heal the world.