Zen and the Art of Relationships

Using your spiritual Zen to create a lasting, loving relationship is part knowing yourself, part knowing your partner, and part understanding that sometimes less is more. Let’s count down the eight ways we can create a satisfying relationship, surrendering to love without expectation.

Let Love Be
The Zen method of relationship maintenance is understanding that sometimes nothing is all that’s required to keep on the right path. While it may sound simple, doing nothing can be one of the most difficult things we will ever do. Think about it. If we smash our toe, we instinctively grab our foot and hop around. If a partner says they no longer love us, we instinctively cry, plead, and beg for forgiveness. Quit trying to control your relationships, and just let them be. We may be able to prolong inevitability, but the outcome will always be the same.

You Can’t Control Love
Human nature strives to gain control, which often includes control of our own life, as well as the lives of others. When a selfish lover says, “I love you,” what they are really saying is I love the way you make me feel. Selfish love recognizes certain needs must be met in order to maintain happiness. It’s not an act of love to control (or demand) how it is expected to enter and/or leave our life. Love was never meant to be complicated; love is simple if you surrender all control to its own will.

Love Yourself and the World will Love You Back
It’s impossible to be lonely when you love yourself. Self-love is about accepting our flaws and becoming curious in the discovery of who we are. If we become worthy of our own interest, we will become interesting to all those who are worthy of our attention.

Act Against Reaction
One important aspect of Zen and relationships is resisting immediate reactions which are usually neither true, purposeful, or well thought out. If you yell at a child for spilled milk, there may be no clear understanding as to why they are being punished. When dealing with love, we must allow time for our mind to cleanse itself before we can speak from the heart. Most knee-jerk reactions end in regret and are not worth the effort if you consider the destruction, complication, and long-lasting damage they may cause.

Love is Never Perfect
The Zen way of love has no ultimate goal of what a love should be, as it is these types of demands that bring obstacles to love in the first place. Think about it. It is our unnecessary expectations about love that make it so rigid and inflexible. We all change from birth to death, and if we are not willing to accept these changes and grow along with each other as both individuals and a partnership, then we are neither ready or worthy of love’s full attention.

Love is Blind
“Love is blind” is a common saying, but it is true. Zen understands that while we may be focusing our attention on finding love and compatibility outside our everyday circle, it is those located within our circle who generally love us the most. Rather than sitting around waiting for a better tomorrow, the Zen way of love says to take advantage of the love we can experience today. We dismiss so many people in our lives out of fear of having made (or making) a poor choice. Stop worrying so much about what’s to come tomorrow, and start enjoying today!

Love Requires Gentle Freedom
In Zen, holding love gently refers neither to overloading it with too much expectation or carelessly tossing it about as if we’re too coy to notice its importance. Love is incredibly important to life, but at the same time there is no way of knowing when it’s going to end, so we must prepare by giving it the freedom to come and go as it pleases without fear of rejection, loss, or abandonment. If you hold love too tightly, you will crush it; if you hold it too loosely, it will fly away; but if you hold it just right, it will love you for as long as it was meant to.

Give and You Shall Receive
Part of sharing love with friends and family is giving gifts in the form of time and attention. These gifts should require no thanks or gift in return, but simply remain a kind gesture meant to add something special to someone’s life each and every day.

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