Just a glimpse of the amazing ways spiritual connection makes love even better.
Our world has become a global community. Travel and the internet have brought us neighbors we never anticipated, and introduced us to cultures that sometimes seem exotic, wonderful — or even downright strange.
As our close encounters become more prevalent and we grow to understand each other more deeply, we have limitless wisdom to gain from our various points of view.
When we open our minds and hearts to explore the core values and teachings of different religious and spiritual paradigms, we gift ourselves with the many ways the spectrum of teachings across major religions can positively affect each of our own relationships.
Here is a quick glimpse of the basic principals underlying 7 spiritual perspectives, and ways they can enhance any and all of our relationships.
1. The Mystics
Mystics understand that we are all aspects of the fabric and expression of the One Being. They teach that the real cause of our suffering, no matter its form, is alienation from our true essence. Reconnecting with our deepest being is the single-most powerful source of love, growth, healing, and awakening.
We when do our own inner work and find our true center, we are able to relinquish the need for our partners to affirm us — which helps us avoid disappointment — and enables us to approach each other from a place of centered, loving awareness.
Hindus believe that the soul, the ātman, is eternal and ultimately indistinct from Brahman, the supreme spirit. According to the spiritual texts know as the Upanishads, the soul retains impressions, carrying them over from lifetime to lifetime, and affecting one’s karma. Karma translates literally as action, work, or deeds — the "moral law of cause and effect."
Connected to Karma is the idea of Dharma, the purpose of one’s life. Hindu marriages join two individuals for life, so they can work on their karma and pursue their dharma together.
Different types of yoga, which means "union," reflect ways to create harmony in relationships. Bhakti Yoga is the path of love and devotion. Karma Yoga is the path of right action. Rāja Yoga is the path of meditation. Jñāna Yoga is the path of wisdom.
The ultimate goal of each individual soul is union with Brahma. In this life, practicing "union" in one’s intimate relationships affects Karma in a positive way.
Buddhism teaches that we are all part of a constantly changing and inter-related Wholeness. When we forget that and become attached to the idea things should go a certain way, we suffer. We then project the cause of our suffering onto others, become filled with insecurity, and find ourselves feeling disconnected from loved ones.
The solution, the Buddha taught, is to overcome selfish cravings and release ourselves from the narrow limits of self-interest. We can do this by finding our place in the grand scheme of things, living from a heart-centered place, choosing to be truthful, promoting healthy living, developing compassion and practicing loving kindness.
In Judaism, the idea behind relationships and marriage is that two halves become one, thereby completing and complementing each other. Genesis 2:24 says, "A man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
Man is understood to be made in the image of God. Kabbalistic Jewish teachings assert that God has both masculine and feminine attributes, and that when these are mirrored within relationships, the act of loving each other contributes to greater balance in the world. Commitment in relationships involves pursuing life goals together, mirroring the Divine attributes and participating in tikkun olam — healing the world through acts of kindness, compassion, integrity, loyalty, caring and sharing.
Christians also value a path created in the image and likeness of God. This means living in harmonious communion with God, the Church, and the world. Human potential is considered to be realized most perfectly in Jesus Christ, precisely because he is both Divine and human. His example is practiced by paying attention to works of mercy, providing for and feeding the family and living a principled prayerful life. A good Christian relationship embodies the values of peace, patience, respect and love, as 1 John 4:16 states: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him."
In Islamic creed, charity, fasting, prayer and pilgrimage are valued. Men and women are required to help each other, and have rights over each other when they enter into a marriage contract. Following the example of the Prophet, couples are required to be trustworthy, respectful toward each other, joyous, playful and forgiving of each other's mistakes.
They are instructed to fast together on Mondays and Thursdays, connect with Allah through the ritual of prayer, go on the Hajj to Mecca if possible, and participate on their own inner Hajj to examine and work with the inner "nafs" — ego constrictions — in order to overcome them.
7. Native American Spirituality
Spirituality pervades all Native American — and most Indigenous people’s — lives, beliefs, values, and behavior. Everything, both animate and inanimate, is understood to be inter-related and sacred.
Family structures varies from tribe to tribe in terms of gender roles and expectations, and therefore the dynamics within each couple’s relationship varies. Emphasis is placed on honoring nature, harmony, balance, spirituality, community interaction, health and wellness.
Take the best of them all, and explore the wide variety of ways you can begin to enhance your loving relationships — starting right now!
Lorell Frysh PhD. is the author of Jewels in the Net of the Gods. She has a doctoral degree in East-West psychology, is an Interior architect and designer focusing on the creation of Sacred space, and has spent over forty five years exploring, studying, and receiving initiation in many of the great spiritual, mystical, and healing traditions of the world.