Relationships Make You Conscious, Not Happy

Eckhart Tolle

Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)

Awakin FeatureWith the acknowledgment and acceptance of the facts also comes a degree of freedom from them. For example, when you know there is disharmony and you hold that "knowing," through your knowing a new factor has come in, and the disharmony cannot remain unchanged. When you know you are not at peace, your knowing creates a still space that surrounds your nonpeace in a loving and tender embrace and then transmutes your nonpeace into peace. As far as inner transformation is concerned, there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot transform yourself, and you certainly cannot transform your partner or anybody else. All you can do is create a space for transformation to happen, for grace and love to enter.

So whenever your relationship is not working, whenever it brings out the "madness" in you and in your partner, be glad. What was unconscious is being brought up to the light. It is an opportunity for salvation. Every moment, hold the knowing of that moment, particularly of your inner state. If there is anger, know that there is anger. If there is jealousy, defensiveness, the urge to argue, the need to be right, an inner child demanding love and attention, or emotional pain of any kind — whatever it is, know the reality of that moment and hold the knowing. The relationship then becomes your sadhana, your spiritual practice. If you observe unconscious behavior in your partner, hold it in the loving embrace of your knowing so that you won't react. Unconsciousness and knowing cannot coexist for long — even if the knowing is only in the other person and not in the one who is acting out the unconsciousness. The energy form that lies behind hostility and attack finds the presence of love absolutely intolerable. If you react at all to your partner's unconsciousness, you become unconscious yourself. But if you then remember to know your reaction, nothing is lost.

Humanity is under great pressure to evolve because it is our only chance of survival as a race. This will affect every aspect of your life and close relationships in particular. Never before have relationships been as problematic and conflict ridden as they are now. As you may have noticed, they are not here to make you happy or fulfilled. If you continue to pursue the goal of salvation through a relationship, you will be disillusioned again and again. But if you accept that the relationship is here to make you conscious instead of happy, then the relationship will offer you salvation, and you will be aligning yourself with the higher consciousness that wants to be born into this world. 

Excerpted from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that relationships are here to make us conscious? Can you share a personal story where unconscious behavior was held in the loving embrace of knowing, without reacting? What practice helps you to remember your reactions and grow in awareness?

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17 Previous Reflections:

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    On Aug 1, 2019 Harish Anchan wrote:
    It is a good thing to let your feelings (when the mind is not at peace to come out) as it is only in that state that we can heal and change and hence bring about inner transformation

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    On Jul 26, 2019 Abhishek Jhawar wrote:
    What a wonderful article, I very much relate with this article that relationships are here to make us conscious. Yesterday Arnika, a friend of mine said to me: Abhishek, when you can't confess something directly, you confuse people. And this is the statement which made me to think over it lke is it really true? The answer is yes, whenever I wanted to refuse somene's proposal or if I don't want to do business with someone, I find it very difficult to say NO to people. That doesn't mean I do business with all, but I keep making up the stories and stretch the conversation even if it's not needed. Like the article, my coach Mr. Ashok also told me the same last year, your relationship is like the mirror. It will tell you exactly how you're doing in life. Because, the kind of feedback you get in your work or office are always articulated in such a way, you won't find any big difficulty in listening to it. But, a relationship is something, where every single acti... [View Full Comment] What a wonderful article, I very much relate with this article that relationships are here to make us conscious. Yesterday Arnika, a friend of mine said to me: Abhishek, when you can't confess something directly, you confuse people. And this is the statement which made me to think over it lke is it really true?

    The answer is yes, whenever I wanted to refuse somene's proposal or if I don't want to do business with someone, I find it very difficult to say NO to people. That doesn't mean I do business with all, but I keep making up the stories and stretch the conversation even if it's not needed.

    Like the article, my coach Mr. Ashok also told me the same last year, your relationship is like the mirror. It will tell you exactly how you're doing in life. Because, the kind of feedback you get in your work or office are always articulated in such a way, you won't find any big difficulty in listening to it. But, a relationship is something, where every single activity is just to make you aware of how you're making it up in your life. It's not to cry or laugh or fight. But to accept, Yes, this is what is happeing around me. Do I want the same to happen again, or i need to change my activities in any way?

    Just one conscious decision can help me to live an extra ordinary life. Just a conscious reflection is enough.
    [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Mar 30, 2019 Harry Immanuel wrote:
    Very Innovative & pragmatic. ...

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    On Mar 5, 2019 haley wrote:
    After many, many years of playing the victim, I’m now awake and I know that I’m in an unhealthy relationship. I feel deep love for my husband. I pray that he will know peace and happiness; however, nearly every utterance from under his breath is a curse or insult or complaint. I am trying to stay calm despite this, but see it’s effects on our sons. I’m struggling with knowing what to do.

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    On Jul 4, 2016 Julie wrote:

    Tolle explanation are easy to understand.  


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    On May 26, 2016 Akshay Sadana wrote:

     Relationship is the only thing that keeps you live.
    Life is full of problems, full of miseries, failures and dissatisfaction. There are times when you find your self so lonely that nothing can take you out other than a sweet relation. The only this that matters in life for which you do every thing is your relationship. You create an empire of leave the world for eternity it is only for the sake of relationship. There is nothing more charming, soothing beautiful, fragrant than a relationship.  


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    On Apr 20, 2016 Norma Ruiz wrote:

     This has so resonated with me.  I figured out early in my marriage that it is not my job to make my husband happy -- that's his job.  After a few years, I realized that it was also not his job to make me happy, that's MY job.  I have grown so much in our relationship, not because he makes me happy, but because he can stoke every unconscious and unresolved issue in every dark corner of my being.  Today, I am grateful and in love with my husband for helping with my growth which has released me to deeper connect with spirit, love of self and others and a rich life.  The journey was not easy as I had to grieve the relationship I thought I wanted with him and trust that something better was ahead.


    1 reply: AJ | Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 20, 2016 Jyoti wrote:

    For 14 years I held back my reactions to all manner of anger fueled abuse from a partner (then an ex-partner) who marched to the drum of his inner demons. I raised our son, mostly alone, with a commitment to my value that a child have respect and love for his father. This practice changed me and my life in more ways than I can count. Now my only prayers are that the grown son and father find their own healthy equation in their relationship, and may the father's inner drum find a peaceful enough rhythm. I am blessed to have sufficient clarity on living for what I value. 


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    On Apr 19, 2016 Indira Iyer wrote:
    My partner and I have been listening to Eckhart every night before going to bed. Overy time, some of his wisdom has seeped into our subsconsciousness and has brought some presence, spaciousness and acceptance in life and in our relationships. The true gem for me from Master Eckhart is his teaching which I have found to be so true- the fact that "relationships are there to make you CONSCIOUS not necesarrily HAPPY".Happiness is what lies within us. As soon as I have realized this and striven to practice that, I noticed that peace is the immediate outcome. Making "space" around unhappiness brings acceptance and hence peace. Even if it means that the relationship no longer serves you and you may have to let go- its ok. I don't believe that our job is to make every relationship "right" but to make it right for each of us. I am learning how relatioships serve as mirrors into our selves (esp. the difficult ones) to that which needs attention, to realize and heal, with kindness and compassion... [View Full Comment]

    My partner and I have been listening to Eckhart every night before going to bed. Overy time, some of his wisdom has seeped into our subsconsciousness and has brought some presence, spaciousness and acceptance in life and in our relationships.

    The true gem for me from Master Eckhart is his teaching which I have found to be so true- the fact that "relationships are there to make you CONSCIOUS not necesarrily HAPPY".Happiness is what lies within us. As soon as I have realized this and striven to practice that, I noticed that peace is the immediate outcome. Making "space" around unhappiness brings acceptance and hence peace. Even if it means that the relationship no longer serves you and you may have to let go- its ok. I don't believe that our job is to make every relationship "right" but to make it right for each of us. I am learning how relatioships serve as mirrors into our selves (esp. the difficult ones) to that which needs attention, to realize and heal, with kindness and compassion towards ourselves and our partners in relationships.

    [Hide Full Comment]

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    On Apr 19, 2016 Rashmi wrote:

     When you live in a relationship which is non-receptive, long enough...you eventually grow non reactive and be conscious, for this natural process of knowing although you do pay a heavy price of living in a dead relationship.


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    On Apr 18, 2016 purelove wrote:

    When love is less, challenges are more. It takes a momentary thought to create an issue but a lifetime to overcome. We are using more head (logic), which creates difficulty to love or surrender. 

    Acceptance becomes automatic and differences non-existent, in moments when there is pure love.
    'Bhakti' seems to be the most beautiful practice of divine love, one can experience & offer. 





    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 18, 2016 david doane wrote:

    I appreciate the gentle wisdom of this article.  I believe that we do wake up, become more conscious, through relationship, which results in happiness from within.  We are related, and in relationship we have the ongoing opportunity to transform.  I used to be more angry, negative, defensive, critical than I am now, and my being in relationship with my wife who is positive, accepting, patient, encouraging has very much helped me become more aware of how I was and become more soft, less angry, more positive, and more kind.  I was held in loving embrace, and my becoming more conscious and growing occurred and is occurring over many years -- I'm a slow learner.  Knowing what happens for me, remembering that I can learn and change, helps me to grow in awareness and helps me to be more compassionate toward myself, and knowing that others are (like) me I am also more compassionate with others.


    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 17, 2016 Abhishek Thakore wrote:

    Personal relationships are the real "labs" of growth - where the talk meets the walk. And if we are able to remove the criteria of "happiness" that is so deeply embedded in an 'ideal' relationships, there is a sense of relief.

    Indeed, no better place to discover ourselves than in relationship with one another, as well as in our relationship with ourselves :) 


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    On Apr 15, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    I have been learning a lot about me by my relationships with others. The other becomes a mirror for me to see my true and original self. My transactions with significant people in my life make me see those parts of myself that I unconsciously hide from me. They create a larger space within me to look at me, hear me, show my limitations and help me go beyond the self  limiting boundaries I have unconsciously created in me.It has not been always easy to acknowledge and accept my shortcomings. Such a journey is an ongoing process for me. I am grateful to people in my life for removing my blindfolds. When I notice anger arising in me by someone's behavior, I pause, breathe and become aware of my own reactive thought and emotional patterns. Creating such quiet space within me helps me to respond wisely. Such experiences and behaviors help me to connect myself with others empathetically and enrich our relationship. I am very grateful to people in my life for helping me understand my my... [View Full Comment]

    I have been learning a lot about me by my relationships with others. The other becomes a mirror for me to see my true and original self. My transactions with significant people in my life make me see those parts of myself that I unconsciously hide from me. They create a larger space within me to look at me, hear me, show my limitations and help me go beyond the self  limiting boundaries I have unconsciously created in me.It has not been always easy to acknowledge and accept my shortcomings.
    Such a journey is an ongoing process for me. I am grateful to people in my life for removing my blindfolds.
    When I notice anger arising in me by someone's behavior, I pause, breathe and become aware of my own reactive thought and emotional patterns. Creating such quiet space within me helps me to respond wisely. Such experiences and behaviors help me to connect myself with others empathetically and enrich our relationship. I am very grateful to people in my life for helping me understand my my conditioned and habitual patterns of reacting rather than responding. I am happy to travel on this path. Namaste. Jagdish Dave


     

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