how important is having a partner on the path?

power of constancy, modified 7 Years ago.

how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 3 Join Date: 10/23/13 Recent Posts
To expand the question further, for someone who is quite serious about the spiritual path and also single, if they were to engage in a romantic relationship how important is it that their partner also be serious about the path; either as a buddhist meditator or even a different way like yoga or shamanism?

I'd love to hear any people's personal experiences with this topic, where it has been really important or actually wasn't so much. Thanks in advance!

................

For a little more detail on my question:

I've tried searching through the "morality and daily life" thread and found this topic tackled only indirectly, and while a variety of perspectives are offered, the main one I've seen is that it doesn't really matter, as everywhere you are/whoever you are with is ripe ground for insight. Even though this may be theoretically true, and for those already entangled in relationships with kids and deep commitments, it's a wise perspective, but to the single individual who has open choice, it just doesn't seem right to me.

I see a partner as sort of like your ultimate sangha; and it seems like it would be incredibly helpful--both to furthering practice and to the pleasantness of a seeker's life---if that partner would make similar friend choices, get involved in a dharma community, want to sit everyday, and be internally-committed to living as wisely and compassionately as one feels capable.

My core question is somewhat general, trying to be applicable to all single seekers who are interested in both relationship and practice (because they're both really interesting and seem to make life better); though, to help give a sense of an interesting predicament that sort of teeters the line... The last woman I dated was what you might call a dharma sympathizer, she meditated and did yoga occasionally, did a 7 day vipassana retreat once, and in general accepted and understood my whole interest in the dharma/retreats/regular meditation, but she was still fairly caught up in the world of samsara and wasn't exactly called by any spiritual pursuit. She wanted a conventional "normal life" filled with mundane things and mundane conversation... We did get along great, but I always felt a little nervous about how our different approaches to spiritual practice and how we wanted to allocate our time, would play out over life. I never had a chance to figure out what would happen as it ended prematurely due to life circumstance, but I wonder if in the future, say I meet someone similar, before I get involved, how much weight should I put on their spiritual life?

I'm not trying to take some holier-than-thou perspective, don't think I'm "better" than a non-practitioner, and will probably end up with a somewhat "normal" householder's life, but I recognize that the spiritual path isn't easy and another person can help... Also, I'm aware that a very appropriate objection is that more important than their practice is my idea of what practice is, and I'm sitting with that, but then again I feel the question of choosing a partner is not something to throw to the wind because "I can practice anywhere..."

Thanks again!
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Sweet Nothing, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 164 Join Date: 4/21/13 Recent Posts
You decide. Life will unfold as it is meant to.
Ben Laufer, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 22 Join Date: 10/9/13 Recent Posts
There aren't any rules. Follow your heart and you will know. The most important things in my opinion is whether your'e partner
is practicing or not to accept them fully with youre love even if that means they have no interest in the practice. Or maybe they practice and then pick another one or none. If you follow your'e heart you will know what is right for you. Don't get in a relationship because of someone's spiritual practice, get in a relationship because it feels right to you and you share love with that person.
Just some thoughts
Ben

Also I think its a good thing your asking these questions!
J C, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
I think this is a special case of a more general question: how important is it that your partner shares activities with you? Some people like having a lot of their own personal space and time, whereas others want their partner to share and be interested in most of their life. It varies a lot.

I don't see this as any different from being a musician who practices playing music for hours a day: you may want that to be your own personal time, and spend other time with a partner, or you may want a partner whom you can share it with to some degree.
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Nikolai ., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 1650 Join Date: 1/23/10 Recent Posts
J C:
I think this is a special case of a more general question: how important is it that your partner shares activities with you? Some people like having a lot of their own personal space and time, whereas others want their partner to share and be interested in most of their life. It varies a lot.

I don't see this as any different from being a musician who practices playing music for hours a day: you may want that to be your own personal time, and spend other time with a partner, or you may want a partner whom you can share it with to some degree.


I'm married and my wife is not interested in what I've done and do. Great opportunity to work with my own projections and desires. If you think such a situation is not manageable for your own conditioning do what is.

Nick
Tom Tom, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts
Read about a person linked to in the link section named Franklin Merrell-Wolff

http://www.integralscience.org/gsc/

Franklin F. Wolff was an American mystic, philosopher, and mathematician who combined an extraordinary intellect with profound mystical insight and authenticity. Born in 1887 in Pasadena, California, he was raised in San Fernando as the son of a Methodist minister. Wolff graduated from Stanford University in 1911 with a major in mathematics and minors in philosophy and psychology. He then went on to Harvard graduate school to study philosophy, where he was particularly influenced by the study of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. As a result of his philosophical studies, Wolff "became convinced of the probable existence of a transcendent mode of consciousness that could not be comprehended within the limits of our ordinary forms of knowledge." Prior to completing his degree at Harvard, he returned to Stanford to teach mathematics. When it became clear to him that he must "reach beyond anything contained within the academic circles of the West" to Realize Transcendental Consciousness, he left his promising career in academia to engage in a spiritual quest. When he married Sarah Merrell, they joined their surnames to symbolize their partnership in a shared spiritual work.


Perhaps you're looking to do something similar?
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Hi power of constancy

Good "spiritual" friends are important on the path. If a good friend is also a romantic partner, then that may or may not be particularly helpful.

I can extrapolate (from my own life) some scenarios:

Example potential pitfall for a romantic dharma relationship: a role reversal, where your partner suddenly overtakes you when you were more advanced (by some agreed-upon standard) originally.

Example potential benefit: mutual understanding regarding difficult or otherwise extraordinary moods which resulted from practice (dark night, A&P...)

All in all I'd recommend not to get hung up on finding the perfect romantic partner for the spiritual quest. Seems an artificial complication.

power of constancy:
To expand the question further, for someone who is quite serious about the spiritual path and also single, if they were to engage in a romantic relationship how important is it that their partner also be serious about the path; either as a buddhist meditator or even a different way like yoga or shamanism?

I'd love to hear any people's personal experiences with this topic, where it has been really important or actually wasn't so much. Thanks in advance!


So I'm married. My wife isn't into Buddhism or any other religion, organized or otherwise, though she has this nature mystic streak.

When I read Daniel's book, I naturally wanted her to read it. There was even a translation in a language she knew. She didn't read it, didn't get into meditation, had no interest in my spiritual vocabulary.

Thus we had to develop our own way of speaking about our individual practice and experience, which took us a few years, and many false starts - my attempt at getting her to use MCTB terms was one such false start: we had this sense of wanting to express something about ourselves which we lacked the words for. Talking about the material expounded in MCTB, in everyday words and in terms of our own lives rather than technical Theravada vocabulary has been highly clarifying for me.

Also, she's such a great bullshit detector.

Cheers,
Florian
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Bruno Loff, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Florian Weps:
Also, she's such a great bullshit detector.


This is really valuable, IMO way more important than whether she is into meditation or not :-)
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Florian Weps, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 1028 Join Date: 4/28/09 Recent Posts
Bruno Loff:
Florian Weps:
Also, she's such a great bullshit detector.


This is really valuable, IMO way more important than whether she is into meditation or not :-)


Yes!

Cheers,
Florian
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tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
I love my wife for all of her great qualities, many of which have been listed above. She has her own point of view on just about every issue we confront. She hasn't meditated a day in the years we've been together but has no objection to me cutting out for a couple of hours a day to sit.

We don't compete on that level and respect each others differing opinions and except for my dark night BS life is really good.

tom
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Simon T., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
My wife is from a Buddhist country and also a meditator. She got stream entry this year so we indeed share an understanding of the dharma. That doesn't mean we don't have plenty of issues as a couple, and we have been living at distance for a while, it does make the relationship atypical at many levels. When we were both in the dark night at the same time, things were pretty rough. I'm actually happy right now that she is not interested in getting the next path and got a decent stability from stream entry. It's sure nice to be able to talk about the dharma but there is so many other factors that make a relationship valuable or not. What I find helpful is that she don't use me to create a sense of identity so I don't experience the discomfort related to that as I used to experience in other relationship. I find being around people with strong self-referencing to be quit uncomfortable. Sadly, modernity encourage that quite a bit. It's probably better to be with someone who has no interest at all in spiritual practice is get his happiness from simple things in life like gardening and knitting than to be with someone that really buy into spiritual materialism.
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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: how important is having a partner on the path?

Posts: 3199 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
What a great thread.

My first wife was a meditator, though initially got into it from pressure from me, but later went on a number of retreats totally on her own after she crossed the A&P in her efforts to get Stream Entry and best the Dark Night. It was a pretty wild ride having us both cycling up and down and crashing around through various phases. I don't miss it at all, nor would I necessarily recommend it.

My current wife is not really a formal or technical meditator, though she does definitely meditate in her own style. She is also very intuitive, naturalist, shamanistic, and magical, not following any specific path or doctrine, and very much her own thinker and adventurer outside of any obvious tradition. She also has a very hair-trigger bullshit detector. She also crosses the A&P not infrequently through just being alive, which does make things interesting at times. She does tend to have some appreciation for what I do and am into, and through long exposure to me and my dharma world does understand a lot of the technical lingo and terminology, but we don't share meditation or our paths particularly, and she doesn't use much of the terminology herself, and that is just fine and feels healthier than the previous marriage in which things were somewhat entangled related to meditation and other things. We support each other doing each other's own thing, and that feels good.

Overall, there are really mixed blessings and curses to be had either way, and it is just one of the many things in the mix that you will have to figure out for yourself with whoever you are in the relationship with, realizing that it will likely be a moving target for both of you, just as this stuff is a moving target for each of us here in our own practice.

I think that having a partner who was openly hostile or intolerant of these things would obviously be hard if you are way into them, though people do manage to make progress and do stealth-practice in such settings, but barring open hatred of meditation, I think that there is no obvious fixed optimal arrangement. Fixation on how central making progress in meditation is can shift as one actually does make progress in meditation, and so at some point it is just one more thing, and not the big self-defining deal it once was, so realize that you want someone kind, respectful, fun, sane, ethical, honest, mature, with a good sense of humor and the like much more than you do some perfect idealized meditation partner, as it is those things that will make things more likely to be enjoyable and enduring in a relationship more than some spiritual quest.

I have a friend who was just recently bemoaning that when he and his girlfriend both got stream entry that it didn't instantly fix the other structural problems in their relationship or resolve their personal psychological issues, so realize that it is definitely not the be-all-and-end-all of essential relationship qualities.

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