The Way of Relationships
The Mensch within us learns and expresses spirituality most naturally
through compassionate interaction and service to others.
- Do you gain wisdom primarily through relationship with others?
- Do you prefer the company of others to solitude?
- Do you like to help others to learn, solve problems and become happy?
- Do you enjoy being involved in community projects for the common good?
From the moment of conception until we take our final breath, we are constantly in relationship with other beings. It is through our relationships that we learn and apply that which we have learned. For some of us, relationships are the primary vehicle for learning, while others might prefer more solitary absorption in the arts, movement, intellect and meditation. Every profession and relationship provides equal opportunities for manifesting our inner values and insights. Whether we are a lawyer, soldier, minister, politician, custodian, health care professional or businessperson, we can interact in relationship with others in ways that meet our highest ethical standards.
Relationships are our constant joy and challenge. Through relationships we see reflections of ourselves, and we experience our shared human condition as reflected in the lives of others. Relationships are the stage and playground for love and hatred, compassion and narcissism, wisdom and ignorance. Relationships are the basis for a life-long ethical experiment – the living laboratory for testing if and how generosity and kindness generate personal happiness, and selfishness and greed generate sadness.
It is in relationships that we are able to learn how virtuous and non-virtuous intentions affect our relative states of happiness and wellbeing. By experiencing joy, grief, love, jealousy – and by the dispassionate observation of these — we recognize the intentions that produce lasting happiness and those that produce sorrow.
The Way of Relationships might also be called the Way of Service, for it is through relationship that we serve the deepest needs of others. It is in relationship that we experience sympathy for others—the deep recognition of shared suffering and empathy—a profound connection with the soul, spirit or essence of another being. Sympathy and empathy are the fuel for our journeys along the spiritual Way of Relationships.
For more on this refer to Mandala: Creating an Authentic Spiritual Practice.