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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 34 D HARMA PRACTITIONERS are taught the critical importance of developing nonattachment (noticing without holding on as phenomena arise, abide, and dissolve), understanding the only route to happiness is to think of others before ourselves, and accepting the truth of impermanence (nothing will last). This is not only a perfect prescription for spiritual awakening, but also for mak- ing our romantic relationships work. When it comes to relationships, however, even the most basic dharma teachings are difficult to implement. As one who has been both a Buddhist practitioner and a wife for roughly fifteen years, I can tell you that in no area of life are we less likely to apply the dharma than in our love life. I don’t know about you, but although we could practice not holding on to either the good or the bad moments, thinking of our lover first, and recognizing that, no matter what, this relationship will end and we should savor each moment more fully, well, I’m more likely to be a mad grudge holder, to worry overly about whether I’m “getting my needs met,” and, when it comes to acknowledging the eventual end of my marriage, whether through anger, boredom or death, that’s just too much to ask. I need this one little area of my life to exist outside the law of impermanence. And I often catch myself pretending that it does. This leads to a very painful situation, one where I attempt to enlist my love life in service to my deepest illusions rather than my awakenment. As I look around, I see that I’m not alone in the attempt to use romantic partnership to solidify rather than liberate illusion. Yet, as anyone Being in a Relationship Six Ways to Make It Work After the honeymoon, real life sets in—budgets to balance, toilet seats left up, and in-laws coming for dinner. Relationships aren’t easy, says SUSAN PIVER, but if we practice the six paramitas, the transcendent perfections, we can discover how to live in love.