Are Relationships and Spirituality Incompatible?
Sadhguru answers a question about why relationships and spiritual progress often seem to be on a collision course.
Q: Sadhguru, is it necessary to drop one’s relationships in order to progress on the spiritual path?Sadhguru: There is no need to drop any relationship to progress. You just need to understand your present situation – not the way the world or the other person sees it, but the way it actually is within yourself. The pains and struggles are individual, so each individual has to look at it for themselves.
It is not a question of whether the spiritual path is compatible with relationships or not because they are two completely different dimensions that do not clash anywhere. Spirituality is something that you do within yourself. What you do on the outside is your choice. Whether you want to live in a relationship or alone, whether you want to live in the city or in the mountains, is an individual choice you have to make according to your likes, dislikes, and needs. It has got nothing to do with the spiritual process as such.
What type of relationship you hold with someone is your personal choice and depends on your needs. It is not because of something spiritual that you have done or someone else has done. Let’s not mix up spirituality and relationships because you cannot mix them – one is inside, the other is outside.
Demands & Expectations
Many people in the world who went on a spiritual process shed their relationships – not because the spiritual path demands it but because they were not able to bear the demands of the relationship. The spiritual path does not demand that you shed your relationships, but relationships often demand that you shed the spiritual path. People choose to shed either this or that.
Unfortunately, more people have shed their spiritual path for a relationship rather than shedding the relationship for the spiritual path. But at no time are these two in conflict with each other. Your relationship with someone or something is not in conflict with what you do within yourself. Only when a relationship demands that you have to be in a particular way, it becomes an obstacle.
We see this happening sometimes. When someone starts meditating, initially the family is happy because the person’s demands have declined, he or she seems to be peaceful and able to do things better. But as this person goes deeper into it, when he or she can just close their eyes and sit happily, that’s when people start having problems. If this person was going after something or someone, the spouse would know how to handle it. But now when you are just happy by yourself, people become insecure. This is the danger. So they say, “No more meditation in this house.” “Okay, I will just sit quietly.” “No. You must do something or talk to me or whatever. No sitting quietly.” When you face restrictions about simple things that do not cause harm to anyone, after some time you will wonder why. When someone does stupid things, there will be a divide in the relationship.
From Vested Interests to Love
I hold intense and involved relationships with thousands of people – various levels and dimensions of relationships. My spiritual process and my relationships do not clash in any way because they are two separate areas of life. Your relationships are on the outside. You need to manage them to the best of your ability. Your spiritual process is inward. Whether your partner is becoming spiritual or you are becoming spiritual, either way it should not clash with the relationship.
The thing with the spiritual process is, once you start tasting something within yourself, that something becomes the center of your life. But most relationships are such that both people expect that he or she should be the center of the other one’s life. That is why they feel threatened. People claim they believe in God. If you do, should he not always be the center? The issue is insecurity, not relationships. If the relationship is based on love, there is no issue. If the relationship is based on vested interest, when you hold people to extract certain things from them and suddenly you are not able to extract those things from them anymore, then you feel upset.
Otherwise, once you are on a spiritual process, your relationship can become so much more mature and beautiful. You will not have stupid expectations about the other person. You can just treat and revere the other person as life. The most reverential aspect here is just life. So why not revere another person as life?
Editor’s Note: Find more of Sadhguru’s insights about relationships in the ebook “Compulsiveness to Consciousness.”
A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower December 2015. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.