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How relationships foster spiritual growth

There are various ways to walk the spiritual path. We could pursue spiritual practices, tap into our intuition and creativity, or be deeply connected to nature or even with people. Through each of these means, we come one step closer to discovering our true self. More so, through relationships, romantic or otherwise, which brings our perfections and imperfections to the fore. When we acknowledge those imperfections and work on perfecting them through various relationships, it results in spiritual growth.

You might wonder how that’s even possible in this digital age, where people are ‘virtually’ falling in and out of love on social media platforms and are adept at switching their feelings on and off at will. But, what we often fail to realise is that every relationship we get into and every person we allow into our lives reveals something invaluable about us.

As Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand asserts in Atlas Shrugged, “People will always be attracted to the person who reflects the deepest vision of themselves.” Ironically though, who we are attracted to and why is often a subconscious process for many. This is because seldom do we take the time to get to know our true selves, let alone realise our own worth. Instead, we get into a relationship in search of validation. We expect our partners to make us feel adequate, secure, and happy. But, the moment there is a mismatch of expectations, the relationship gets turbulent.

As the mystic, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev writes in his blog, “You built all these relationships in pursuit of happiness. Or in other words, somewhere you are trying to squeeze some happiness out of people. Once you do this, relationships will be a constant trouble. You cannot do without it, you cannot do with it. There is no sense of joy or happiness within you, and you are trying to extract it from somebody, and that person is trying to extract it from you.” We may all be able to relate to Sadhguru’s words as more often than not we depend on our partner for happiness. Every time our partner falls short in meeting our expectations, it wrecks the relationship a little and that goes on till the relationship reaches its breaking point. We stop believing in our own completeness and ability to feel happy, for ourselves, even within a relationship. So, irrespective of whether the relationship can be salvaged at this point, the bitter experience proves to be spiritual—it works as an eye-opener, reminding us to look inward, get to know ourselves better, and realise that we can feel complete and happy within ourselves.

Not all of us understand the profoundness of relationships. In fact, it may take us several failed relationships to even realise their spiritual importance.


A relationship could also trigger our negative self. For instance, it could bring to the fore our doubts, jealousy, fears and insecurities—a darker side, which we hardly knew existed within us. As spiritual guru Osho explains, “When you are in a relationship, in a thousand and one ways, you are provoked, challenged, seduced. Again, and again, you come to know your pitfalls, your limitations, your anger, your lust, your possessiveness, your jealousy, your sadness, your happiness. All moods come and go, and you are constantly in turmoil.” Thus a relationship holds a mirror to us that reflects who we are in entirety—our good, bad and ugly sides.

Not all of us understand the profoundness of relationships. In fact, it may take us several failed relationships to even realise their spiritual importance. But eventually, when we do learn to see our own nature reflected through relationships, we become aware of our own follies, accept ourselves for who we are, and thereby, become more accepting of our partners as well. It’s only then that we realise that there are lessons to be learnt from every relationship and even see a failed relationship not as a mistake to regret, but as a treasure trove of important life lessons. Such experiences fuel our spiritual growth as we realise the power to be happy lies within us. We also understand that sharing our joy and happiness or empathising with others during their low phases and pulling them out of it with our positive energy can only lead to greater happiness.

Every relationship is akin to a shamanic journey with unexpected twists and turns along the way. Every partner could be viewed as a spiritual catalyst who tests us and helps us look inward to discover more of ourselves. Going by this logic, when the going gets tough in a relationship, it’s important to take a step back, analyse the root cause, and strive to find a solution by keeping the lessons learnt in mind. Struggles enrich the path we tread together. They even take relationships to a whole new spiritual level. As acclaimed author, Paul Ferrini writes in his book Creating a Spiritual Relationship, “We then experience a gentleness born out of a struggle, a sweetness born out of pain. There is a twinkle in the eye that meets beyond the gravity of desire. There is an inner knowingness of self, of other: a surrender into the heart of acceptance and love.”

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