Today’s post is about a book a friend lent to me. While the title is “if the Buddha married: creating enduring relationships on a spiritual path”, the book has a lot of good things to share for any relationships–not just marital. This book is written by Charlotte Kasl, who also wrote “if the Buddha dated” (which is available in the Milwaukee County Library HERE). I’ve been doing a lot of searching and thinking recently. This book shed some light on relationships for me, and made some good observations on what can help a relationship to survive and thrive.
Here are my highlights from this swell book:
- p. 1 As we learn to bring attention to whatever we are doing, we find that all of life is a form of meditation.
- p. 7 I learned that my condition and expectations created my turmoil, not the words or actions of the other person…This awareness was key to changing my relationships because it removed all levels of blame and shame, and helped me to realize that everyone is just doing what they are conditioned to do. (my italics-TF)
- p. 12 To increase the intimacy in your life, start noticing the predictable ways in which you act and react in relation to your partner.
- p. 16 Take a moment to think of your partner as your beloved. –this special person who wants what you want–to be loved, to be free of suffering, and to experience joy. This imperfect being who has chosen you as you have chosen him or her. This one whose touch, voice, habits and smells are embedded in your senses.
- p. 25 Happily married couples foster a steady current of connection by voicing heartfelt appreciation for each other.
- p 45 Repeatedly ask the question “Am I creating closeness or separation?” Think of a more gentle way to say what you need.
- p 47 Listen beneath the surface of a behavior..and look for positive intention.
- p 59 Successful couple are skillful at reflecting the best parts of each other…
- p 64 Take a few minutes to reflect on all the stories you tell yourself about your partner that keep you apart. Then imagine letting them all go and looking in your partner’s eyes and seeing who’s there today.
- p 81 On the spiritual path, we do’t ask the world to change for us, we reflect on our own attachments.
- p 98 …We are having a relationship with our projected images of parents or feared authority figures rather than this person we call our partner…we need to meet as peers, not as children or surrogate parents.
- p 110 Become aware of the parts of yourself you have disowned…look at the polarities between you and consider the possibility that you are repressing what is obvious in your partner (emphasis added-TF)
- p 140 (regarding apologies)..Put the focus on your partner by acknowledging the impact of your behavior.
- p 143 …if we can grasp the Buddhist principle that hurtful behavior stems from ignorance, pain and suffering, we may eventually feel mercy and compassion instead of anger and judgment. But it’s not always easy.
- p 149 To have a relationship is to be vulnerable.
- p 159 (when in an argument) Ask yourself, “How old do I feel in this argument?” Tell your partner about this.
- p 167 Going a step deeper, we need to remember that fear is often the initial feeling that precedes anger.
- p 172 The agreement that helps relationships stay alive is “I will say what’s bothering me and I will listen to what’s bothering you.”
- p 180 Keep the conflict in the “us” place. It must be focused on finding a win-win solution that both of you can live with.
- p 182 …remember that solving conflict is a form of intimacy if we listen, respond, and allow our creativity to join in the process. (emphasis added-TF)
- p 190 Once people have felt deeply cared-for and understood, solutions often come easier.
- p 208-09 re: “deepening your sexual bond”…Explore ways to be intimate emotionally without sex…take turns giving and receiving..talk about what you enjoy and what you would like to have different
- p 222 Imagine making love with a completely empty mind…Let your thoughts be only a wish that you both be happy, and feel love, and the source of all love.
- p 223 …as if you are exploring your beloved’s body for the first time…If you start to hold back or thoughts interrupt your presence, breathe, soften your belly, and come back to the sensations of the moment. Ask for what you want. Look your partner in the eyes…
- p 228 re: “bringing more vitality to your union” …Spend time together without discussing other people, injustice, politics, how bad it is in the world. Leave all negativity behind. be completely in the present…
- p 231 re: Being Creative Together …If you can join together in the “us” place knowing that being creative together is more important that anyone being right or winning, you can add spark to your relationship.
- p 232 Remember, our task is to expand our love – not to change others…We can remind ourselves that when someone is being cruel or unkind, it stems from his or her internal suffering or ignorance. We can set limits and respond simply, without throwing the other person out of our heart.
There is much more in this book, but those are some moments that really stood out to me. There really is a lot to learn from the Buddhist tradition, and I’m hoping I can continue to develop my “beginner’s mind.”