Past Stray Thoughts

In 2006, I was asked by the abbot of the retreat center I was attending to host meditation groups in the town I was living at the time. From 2006 to 2009, I hosted meditation groups in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then from 2010 - 2012 in Sacramento.  My ex-wife and I separated and then divorced in 2010.  Between 2006 and 2012, I had attended many silent Chan and Vipassana retreats of ten days or longer, which brought about transformative shifts in perception and became deeply self-content. This was interpreted as a lack of passion or interest in the relationship, and eventually led to our parting ways.

From 2010 to 2012, I was quite content living alone and enjoyed hosting weekly meditation groups. But by 2012, I started missing have a partner for various practical reasons, but also because I was still having a strong sex drive. I found this very distracting and felt I couldn’t lead meditation groups and give Dharma talks while feeling the need to be in a relationship again, so I chose to stop teaching for awhile. But, after dating for a few years and after a few relationships, I found there was no way to be in a relationship with anyone that was not living an awakened life. It simply wasn’t working.  I dated women that claimed to be awakened and some that had been meditators for decades. But, it always came down to there still being a predominant ego very much intact that still felt all the needs for romantic notions of love.

When a person wakes up and that stabilizes, there is no being “in love” with any one person exclusively and there is no center to receive love in an exclusive way. If a partner is attached to the perceived person and especially if they are very possessive or needy about it, and yet there is no sense of identity manifesting in the person they are attached to, it begins to feel like participating in a play. You go through the motions but you know it isn't real, no matter how much the other person thinks it is. It's not that you don't love them, but it's that you don't worship them. A person that is not deeply awakened will always feel your love for them must be unique and exclusive.  It's bound to end in disappointment unless both can realize that love is different after awakening. For the partner that has never experienced awakening and the deep contentment and natural non-attachment that comes with it, there is no way for them to understand how you can love but not be attached at the same time. Love, for many people, implies attachment.  If there isn't a feeling that you cannot live without another, then they feel the love has gone out of the relationship.

To make matters worse for the partner that has not yet awakened, sexual desire falls by the wayside as awakening deepens, which isn’t interpreted well by a partner that doesn’t live from the same level of contentment and moment-to-moment satisfaction. 

I’m pretty convinced it simply doesn’t work for someone that is awakened to pursue a relationship with someone that is not, and to do so only demonstrates a deeper awakening has yet to take place. I’ve resigned myself to that realization and no longer seek relationships. I’m basically a lay monk at this point.

I could see a partnership between two awakened people working especially if their awakenings unfolded after they were already married. But, I don’t see it a likely possibility that two truly and deeply awakened people would feel the need to commit to a relationship if they were single. My experience has been the deeper the awakening, the more universal the love for all beings. To devote to one person in particular, no matter how sweet the smile, or even an awakened one, over all others just doesn’t seem likely. There is a joy that arises when meeting another awakened being, but the main movement of the heart seems to be for those not yet awakened and still suffering. 

Loving kindness and compassion can express sexually, but more often than not, if there is still strong sexual attraction, the awakening is not very deep or has not stabilized. When awareness itself becomes aware of whatever is arising, sexual attraction is just another thought, another feeling, and can be acknowledged and let go like any other. In time, sexual energy dies down and no longer drives behavior. With time, it simply no longer arises. It is only then that all people can truly be appreciated equally without any underlying tendency to plot for a more intimate, exclusive relationship. This in itself is very liberating, to be free of looking at women as objects of desire and to see them just as they are without any color of sexual attraction. Desire for sexual union is coming from a false sense of separation. When pure awareness predominates, there simply is no center and no sense of separateness. One’s heart is already in union with all sentient beings and all creation.

I'm not an advocate for people that are not ready to be celibate to force celibacy on themselves or others. This can lead to all kinds of problems. When awakening is deep enough and stabilized enough, it will happen quite naturally.

Finally, there is never a good reason for a spiritual teacher to seduce a student. Also, students should be mindful to not tempt teachers.  Not every teacher is awakened, or, if awakening has occurred, it may not be sufficiently deep or stabilized. Best for students to not tempt teachers. Steer clear from teachers that claim "crazy wisdom" or the need for Tantric sexual practices to lead to an experience of union or no self!  They are deceiving others as well as themselves.