The Tao of Relationship
How can the dharma support our understanding of relationships? To what degree do you view your relationships as part of dharma practice, and how do you do it? Moffitt suggests thinking of any significant relationship as being a stream—the tao—flowing between two worlds, two truths, two perceptions, or two ways of manifesting in the world. One world is that of sensual and emotional desire, and the other is the world of related or conscious love. He points to three ways we can have true relatedness, each involving a greater degree of giving oneself over to spiritual life.
Moffitt elaborates on how the dharma shows up in love relationships. He describes four types of unhealthy relationships and how the dharma can help us discern what is unhealthy. He also talks of mutuality in healthy relationships and how dharma precepts serve these. Lastly, there is the possibility of attaining moments of the relationship Martin Buber called “I-Thou” and which is inherently part of our Buddha nature.
Moffitt traces the origins of romantic love to courtly love that arose in the Middle Ages and which focused on a spiritual dimension that was awakened in the lovers. When we investigate relationship in the light of the dharma, we are going back to the roots of Western thought. The tools of mindfulness can help us see that a lot of our suffering in any kind of relationship, not just romantic, comes from grasping and wanting it to be a certain way.