Q&A from students

In each monthly newsletter, I share a few questions from students or readers along with my responses that I feel may benefit a larger number of beings. Personal details are excluded, and the content may be edited or simplified for brevity.
– Av Neryah

#1: Ignorance in the subconscious and dream state

Q: Since a little over a decade ago, I experience inner silence, and “isness,” simple “being.” However, it is still “me” who “abides” and knows “isness” (‘doership’) and I do not experience the “isness” in my dreams, which are not lucid. Is my subconscious reached yet? 

 

A: Recognizing the “isness” in the dream state is quite an advanced endeavor. Most seekers want to and should first recognize “isness” in the waking state (and stabilize such recognition).

That said, not recognizing the “isness” in dreams can be attributed to various factors, such as:

– not fully remembering the dreams in detail (if you don’t have a detailed dream journal or a strong connection to subconscious memory, how do you know you didn’t recognize it in the dream state?);

– lacking an intense yearning for liberation (powerful desires gradually permeate the subconscious mind); and

– most of the waking state recognition is happening on the surface layer of the mind (it should be a “full-being” recognition, which also involves the heart and energy, and you must also have moments in sitting practice where you go below the waking state while effortlessly maintaining self-awareness).

Additionally, the one who initiates the recognition of “isness” in the waking state is not present in dreams (unless lucid). Therefore, the dream ego may lack the insight to be self-aware. In other words, as you point out, the “doership” and you being the one who “who abides and knows isness” means that in the absence of that “you,” the recognizer (a limited yet purer self because it has recognized its own background of awareness), there is no recognition of “isness.” What must be experientially understood is that the recognizer is always awareness and never the seeker/person/doer. Only awareness recognizes itself, and if awareness is present in a dream (which obviously is), then it is recognizing itself. Due to your tendency to identify with a body (physical, dream, etc.), this is missed, and there is only recognition of the dream content, just like you can go through a whole day without recognizing your breathing, though it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

#2: Fluctuations between ego and being

Q: Despite these (huge) blessings I still often feel “troubled” on waking. Since my “shift,” I lead a kind of paradoxical “double” life. A blessed life of Being (awareness-isness) & (still) my old life of ego and its sufferings… My ego thinking, my usual way of speaking & my interactions with others often interrupt my abiding… “I” still tend to identify with this lifetime’s “story.” I still suffer from vanity, fear, sadness, anger, ignorance, dukkha (suffering)!

 

A: The “double life” you speak of means that there are still fluctuations between being identified with being or awareness and the ego or personhood. In other words, although you have realized the nondual space of awareness, your ego still seems to superimpose itself onto that space and pull you into itself, leading you to an apparent “paradox” of suffering on the top of suffering-less space. It’s as if you need to bring being from the background into the foreground of your life (through presence/self-aware energy rather than only being a mental recognition), pervading every moment until the identification with the personhood dissolves and the background/foreground dichotomy collapses.

However, remember not to mistake the archetypal sattvic personality (i.e., Ramana Maharshi’s expression as described mainly by his devotees) with the natural state (permanent and effortless abidance in the I am) because it may not necessarily be the case (e.g., the great Nisargadatta Maharaj’s expression being an example of what we could almost call “sattvic rajas”). Being in the natural state doesn’t mean that you will stop experiencing the natural spectrum of human emotions. Just because you know the moon’s reflection in a lake is not the real thing, it doesn’t mean it disappears; it just means it is seen for what it is. As it is continually experienced in that way, this experiential recognition will eventually overflow into your manifested expression of body-mind and make it more sattvic and transparent to allow the light of awareness to shine through with less filtering. But don’t allow the belief that you must be a saint to be able to be established in the natural state to corrupt your discernment.

#3: Sahaja samadhi and spiritual practice

Q: How long will it take to reach sahaja samadhi with regular practice? I think not even having any vague estimation is the main source of the anxiety that’s holding me back. My mind keeps telling me that it may take god knows how long for the natural state to become effortless, and this produces a lot of anxiety.

 

A: There’s no precise timeframe because it varies from seeker to seeker. No two individuals have the same predispositions, karma, conditioning, etc., so the time it takes to embody and stabilize in the natural state is different for everyone. I’ve seen students “achieve” it in two months, and we’ve all heard about seekers who have been at this for decades, often without significant results due to misguided approaches, inadequate guidance, or ineffective practices. Despite the natural state being within reach with the proper mentorship, dedication, and practice, anyone claiming to provide an exact timeframe is simply talking nonsense.

However, what you’re telling me is actually great self-contemplation. Your unacceptance of the present moment indicates a lack of surrender and letting go; it implies a resistance to the now and the unknown. You seem to want to be somewhere in the future where the natural state never falls away rather than here and now. This is a hindrance that prevents you from realizing the ever-presence of the natural state. It’s already here, as it’s not something one could acquire and lose, but these clouds prevent you from seeing the all-shinning sun. Perhaps it’s good to allow complete helplessness to take hold of you and then relinquish your fears, anxieties, etc. Let it all go, don’t avoid or suppress the pain, and definitely don’t give the mind the power to dictate whether your abidance in the I am is effortlessly present or not—self-awareness goes beyond the mind. At the end of the day, those seeds of uncertainty can only find fertile ground when you are outside of the I am.

#4: Celebrating one's uniqueness

Q: I have struggled to understand the distinction between knowing that my Light is very bright and that I am a talented/advanced spiritual seeker—versus the ego-based idea that I am special. The ego wants to hook onto the spiritual. How do I embrace the magnitude of my Being, when the goal is that my oneness will eventually disappear into Oneness? Everyone has the same potential—isn’t it counterproductive to celebrate my uniqueness? I believe this work with you is important—not having to ‘worry about your ego’ is liberating, something I’m just starting to appreciate.

 

A: In a nondual context, which is what matters here, an advanced or talented spiritual seeker is one who is able to let go and sink into the untainted presence of God, letting all the masks fall—one who is able to recognize their own self-awareness in their heart. Nothing else.

While the moon shines beautifully with its seemingly independent and captivating light, it’s important to recognize that its radiance is, in truth, borrowed from the sun. The moon’s reflected light is special in its own way, but it is the sun that makes it all possible. Once we truly acknowledge the sun’s unending light, we are then free to fully acknowledge the moon’s enchanting light. However, prematurely dismissing the moon’s reflected light in its entirety, just because it doesn’t belong to the moon, can inadvertently prevent us from truly realizing the sun—as it is in that very reflected light that we follow our way back home to the sun.

Celebrating one’s uniqueness is done by realizing God’s presence through our individual lens. When our attention sinks into “I am,” and we become so transparent that we realize that God moves through us, breathes through us, sees through us, thinks through us, and so on, then our manifested expression blossoms into that very celebration. Celebrating one’s uniqueness based on personality traits (regardless of how ‘sattvic’ they are) can become an “ego trap.” Celebrating one’s uniqueness may be a valid goal when it comes to self-improvement; however, in authentic spirituality, what should be celebrated first is the common factor between us all—the essence. Once the celebration of essence is truly accomplished, we can then celebrate form, as it cannot ever be separate from its own essence. The celebration of one is the celebration of the other, with no separation at all. This is what I call the dance of nondual-duality.

When it comes to resolving “personality issues” to optimize the spiritual process, we definitely need to take care of the issues that hinder realization. The problem is that all these issues are ego issues, and undergoing continuous ego refinement can be a never-ending journey. That’s why there must be a balance between purification work (resolving “personality issues” instead of spiritually bypassing them because they will manifest later on and prevent even deeper realization) and nondual work (abiding in the space where no such issues exist).

Interestingly enough, both of these “works” are actually the same. Object-based practices can provide some degree of purification and refinement, but they alone cannot entirely eradicate deeply ingrained patterns and conditioning that act as barriers to enlightenment. Hence, the importance of proper guidance cannot be overstated—just like grace—as it serves as the ultimate aid in nondual work and contemplation, together with directed nondual practice, which is exactly what you’ve been doing.

 

Q: I believe this work with you is importantnot having to ‘worry about your ego’ is liberating, something I’m just starting to appreciate.

 

A: Yes. In fact, worrying about the ego actually comes from the ego (“spiritual ego”), and keeps oneself chained to the ego. Being in the space where no such worry exists—that’s how the “not having to worry about the ego” is truly accomplished—and how one starts to truly see the ego’s behaviors and subtle mechanisms in play.

#5: The natural state and life's blueprint

Q: Can I be completely stabilized in the natural state and still realize the aspirations I perceive to be the blueprint for my life? Or could this urge be a diversion from my spiritual growth and practice?

 

A: Being in the natural state is quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of human beings have no idea that experiencing reality from such a profound dimension is even possible. Even among the spiritually inclined, only an extremely small number of aspirants will realize their real nature.

For those who realize it, some will naturally attune themselves to whatever “blueprint” their vehicle of expression seems to have in this world, and will go in that direction. It’s not that they don’t want to go further in their enlightening journey (if they’re aware that the natural state is not “final”); it’s just that they feel an ardent call compelling them to express their inner beauty and realization through different channels, be it creative endeavors, aiding others in spiritual or conventional ways, championing eco-friendly or earth-harmonious causes, etc.

Some of these calls could be said to “horizontally” expand one’s integration within the natural state, rather than “vertically” ascending within the Tree of Liberation. Could it be premature to put too much focus and energy into such a “branch” instead of keeping them in the main “trunk”? Yes, if one’s not yet fully stabilized in the natural state. That said, oftentimes, it may also be integral to one’s path—a pivotal phase enabling the emergence of subconscious and emotional remnants as well as a way to deepen one’s relative expression in the light of awareness. Allowing one’s relative expression to go in the direction of fulfilling such innate calls might well be a component of their spiritual expansion and growth rather than a detour or distraction. It varies case by case. Guidance is truly precious throughout such endeavors.

Not everyone feels the inclination to immediately delve deeper into the investigation beyond presence into absence, and definitely not everyone will experientially go beyond both into suchness in this lifetime. And that is perfectly fine. When a genuine nondual aspirant feels and is truly ready, the proper guidance and grace will naturally manifest.

#6: Extraordinary spiritual occurrences

Q: The tales detailing extraordinary spiritual occurrences in your book please the senses, but what purpose do they serve? I’m not going to be brave enough to say they did or didn’t actually happen (that’s not for me to ponder), but for someone on the spiritual path, it only inflates my ego to expect these things to happen. I will leave my mind open, and I would love to hear your feedback to my comments. I am willing to learn.

  

A: As I was writing the autobiography, I was actually leaning toward refraining from writing about those “mystical experiences.” The rationale behind this was that I didn’t want these events to distract readers from the true purpose of the book or color their perception of it. After all, those types of experiences described in the earlier chapters bear no real relevance to enlightenment or liberation per se, even though they can be powerful catalysts for paradigm shifts and certain types of insights.

Upon careful consideration of whether to include them, I opted for the sensible choice, as any person with a wise spouse would do: I asked for her opinion, and engaged in a lengthy discussion with her on this matter. As you’ve noticed in the book, she was also present during all those moments, so she knew exactly what I was talking about. In the end, we concluded that these experiences and events, despite their otherworldly nature, needed to be included in the book because they genuinely occurred. Seeing that they were a part of my path, these experiences played an important role in showcasing my highs and lows, the pitfalls, desires, intentions, etc., throughout the journey. They aid in understanding the significant transition I underwent, especially when I got into nondual and actual profound spiritual teachings—the ones that truly matter.

As I said in the autobiography, at the beginning of one of the earlier chapters:

“Years later, when I read this, even if I don’t believe it happened, one thing is for sure: It really happened! The mind will store this memory as if it had occurred in a distant dream. But know this one truth: it happened!”

At the time, I had to write this prelude into one of the entries in my diary to ensure that any doubts that might arise years later wouldn’t cast uncertainty on whether that particular experience truly occurred, especially because, unlike all the other mystical events, this specific part I address in the autobiography had happened only to me that day on the beach. During that period, everything felt exceptionally new to me, and I was still years away from having a proper and mature understanding of what we refer to as spirituality.

While skepticism is absolutely valid, it is always important to avoid limiting our experience to preconceived notions of what’s possible. Instead of adopting a narrow perspective, we opt for unbounded openness—and allow life to show us what’s possible. These “extraordinary” occurrences had the right impact at the right moment, and not only am I grateful for them, but they were extremely important for shaping the way my life unfolded at the time. Had I omitted them from the book, I’d not have been open, truthful, and sincere in giving the account of my path.

Moreover, the so-called mystical experiences and the display of otherworldly phenomena in my earlier days were actually far more extensive and prominent than what I described in the book. I excluded many such events and experiences because I didn’t want a substantial portion of the book dedicated to these matters. I don’t hold anyone at fault for having doubts about them. It’s important to emphasize that the purpose of these initial chapters is not to inflate anyone’s ego; on the contrary, they highlight the significant pitfalls that may arise from pursuing such a direction, as well as the unexpected beauty and miraculous nature of manifestation.

When we live life from a deeper dimension of being, we open ourselves to the wondrous fragrance of existence. We don’t need to walk on water or part the sea to experience the extraordinary, because each breath, each heartbeat, each sight, each sound, each sensation, each taste, each smell, and each moment is full of itself, luminous, undivided, and overflowing with extraordinariness.

#7: Practicing in "sacred” locations

Q: Can practicing in specific “sacred” locations be beneficial?

 

A: Undoubtedly, certain locations are endowed with an energy capable of amplifying your sadhana. Practicing amid the embrace of nature, for instance, is better than practicing within the confines of a shopping center. Some places exude an aura of profound energy, discernible to those who are sensitive. Furthermore, practicing with advanced practitioners or within the presence of a liberated being can also elevate your sadhana to new heights. Yet, unless you have very particular circumstances, the majority of your sitting practice time will unfold in your house. Therefore, choose a specific space for sadhana, even if it’s just a small corner, and if possible, use it solely for that purpose. Infuse your practice space with “spiritual” or “meditative” elements, which can be as simple as a candle. That candle will not be a mere candle but a representation of the light of consciousness guiding you to your true home.

These little details can turn any environment into an environment more conducive for sitting practice, and you will have a reminiscent of those “sacred locations” that you mention right within your own living space.

However, it is important to realize that although the energy of a place can positively affect your sadhana, the mind and its level of activity (and thereby aid the pacification of thoughts, the flow of energy, and the overall restlessness of your body-mind), when it comes to settling into “I am,” this self-aware joy of being is available everywhere, regardless of the place or time. In the heart of awareness, all the sacredness can be found.

#8: Loneliness on the journey

Q: I’m alone on my spiritual journey. People around me are not understanding, offering little solace or support, and perhaps even casting doubt upon my sanity. How do I cope with this?

 

A: The vast majority of the world looks at those who invest time in self-discovery and spiritual practice as the odd ones out. However, a closer examination reveals that it is not the genuine spiritual seekers who are sick; rather, there is a collective malaise afflicting the very fabric of society. Everyone is playing a game of pretending. In their quest for enlightenment, the truth-seekers stand as outliers, challenging the status quo that thrives on illusion.

To comprehend the genuine pursuit of truth requires a departure from the golden handcuffs of the collective mind, which demands a degree of maturity that is rarely seen.

The pervasive condition of suffering, coupled with an incessant sense of inadequacy and an unrelenting feeling of lacking, is the normal state of probably everyone you know. People don’t understand those who seek the truth because people live in a state of ignorance. The divergence between those who seek the truth and those who unconsciously dwell in ignorance mirrors the difference between authenticity and conformity.

Do not let society be the arbiter of value.

There are books and teachings that extend a comforting hand, assuring you that you are not alone; they guide you toward your center. There are also communities, people all around the world, who are genuinely seeking the truth, those who have realized that everlasting happiness and completeness are not achieved by “looking outward.”

I know it’s not easy. I’ve been in solitude. Yet, opening the door to my heart allowed me to realize that I’ve never really been alone. And once you open yours, you’ll know you’ve never been alone either.

I am with you, and I stand with those legitimately seeking something more than what the commonly shared superficial outlooks and societal facades appear to present. You are never walking alone. Be like space and allow grace to fill you up.

#9: Purification Vs. Nondual Practice

Q: Is extensive purification necessary, or can I jump into nondual practice?  

 

A: The necessity of extensive purification varies for each practitioner. Some may require significant purification, others may need only a moderate amount, and still, a few may need almost none at all.

Ingrained impressions woven through countless lifetimes, alongside unconscious desires, fears, traumas, etc., conspire against your progress. However, steadfast commitment to your spiritual practice will gradually unveil and bring to light this unconscious debris, allowing for purification and recognition of its transient nature. Given that many aspects of your relative existence remain latent, existing only as seeds, there will be occasions when you can address them before they fully materialize or, at the very least, prevent their manifestation from overpowering you.

However, it’s crucial to understand the following:

Conditioning or “mental defilements” are akin to tomato sauce stains on clothing. While we can and should launder and eliminate these stains, the process is arduous, and there’s no assurance that we won’t get our clothes dirty again the next day. Spending lifetimes painstakingly eradicating this conditioning in order to be enlightened ultimately proves futile, especially as fresh ones may emerge.

Yet, a certain level of mind purification before commencing nondual practice is imperative, as a less conditioned mind not only infuses greater peace and joy into our existence but also serves as the foundation, enabling us to more easily see through the illusory ego. Nevertheless, it remains crucial to underscore that perpetually clearing dust from the “screen of consciousness” would be exactly what the ego wants!

It’d be naïve to suggest that everyone can simply jump into and exclusively perform nondual practice. While it is definitely possible because nondual practice is always available and the most direct kind of practice, many seekers find a combination of transitional “bridge practices” alongside nondual sadhana highly beneficial. In due course, only nondual sadhana will remain, which in itself is extensively purifying.

#10: How to deal with emotional upsets?

Q: I’m alone on my spiritual journey. People around me are not understanding, offering little solace or support, and perhaps even casting doubt upon my sanity. How do I cope with this?

 

A: All emotional experiences present a chance to choose awareness over ego, love over fear.

Do we want to clutch onto emotional disturbances or release them? We can consider the implications and ramifications of clinging to them against the advantages of releasing them. Indeed, there’s a peculiar allure in basking amidst the debris of emotional upset, but do we really want to wear those moth-eaten garments? These are the stories that the ego loves to dwell on, feeding itself and preventing any of the much-needed surrender. Do we want to accept, heal, and surrender, or do we want to find ourselves among the souls carrying unseen burdens?

It may be prudent to scrutinize the dividends we get from holding onto the remnants of a painful episode. What is it that we are getting? How meager are our standards? What satisfaction do we get? Really answer these questions.

Ultimately, the main question is: how does it help us be enlightened? How does it help us be free? It just doesn’t. It may serve to satiate our subconscious yearning for easing guilt through self-punishment—because that’s what we are doing, punishing ourselves over and over again by reliving those experiences in our mind. But this is the ego’s self-preservation game, and it is very good at it.

That said, just like any of the ego’s games, the mere discernment of such a situation has the potential to transform it from a negative situation into an illuminating one. It is a great opportunity to be fully present with these emotions, allowing them to be and to express themselves in their “rawness” while you simply witness them and let them go. Do not create any stories about them; just be aware of them. See only the clouds, not the figures they may form. Then, when there’s more space between you and them, allow your presence and the flavor of being to pervade the whole experience—you are now choosing love over fear.

#11: How can I practice Ramana Maharshi’s teachings?

Q: I have read numerous books on Ramana Maharshi, finding enjoyment in his biographies and stories, yet I continue to find it challenging to apply his nondual teachings into my sitting practice. How can I practice his teachings?

 

A: Most books about Sri Ramana Maharshi have an introductory biography about him. They inform us that he was born in 1879 in Tamil Nadu, India. In 1896, at the age of 16, he had a death experience where his ego or sense of being a separate individual completely vanished. They also tell us how he traveled from Tiruchuzhi to Tiruvannamalai, settling near the sacred hill of Arunachala. There, quite unintentionally, he attracted a following of devotees and truth-seekers, sharing his insights until his passing in 1950.

Although these biographies are inspiring, you must not overlook a critical aspect: don’t equate Sri Ramana Maharshi with that body-mind form. Let me introduce you to the biography of the real Ramana Maharshi, or better yet, Arunachala Ramana, as he referred to himself, and then illustrate how to implement his teachings in a straightforward way:

Arunachala Ramana is the unborn. He is formless and dwells in the heart of every being. He is ever-available, for he is not limited to a specific space-time but always accessible in and as your own awareness.

Many of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings are preserved in books, but above all, if instead of looking at objects, you look at your own awareness, the source of “I” or “I-thought,” you will be practicing the most elevated form of his teachings. There, your ego will melt into the bliss of Arunachala Ramana himself, who is none other than your true self.

The cessation of an objectified and conceptual existence is the start, the way, and the goal. Finding yourself beyond objects and concepts, in the subjectivity of experience, is what I call the state of presence. This is being aware of yourself, not as an object but as awareness—and that is how you practice Arunachala Ramana’s teachings.

To put it simply: sit, shift your focus away from the contents of your experience into the background of awareness, and stay there. That’s it.

“Do not think this body is me.
I am shining in each one of you as ‘I’.”

– Sri Ramana Maharshi
The Mountain Path Vol. 49 No. 4, Oct 2012

#12: What’s the difference between the "state of presence" and "I am"?

Q: Is the state of presence different from practicing “I am” in your Tree of Liberation?

(follow-up to question #11)

A: Incorporate surrender and heart into the state of presence, and you will be in the state of “I am” (which could also be termed “blissful awareness of being”). The state of presence is inherently empty; there’s nothing there but empty awareness. If everything you do is abiding in the state of presence or being aware of awareness while ignoring both the dimension of the heart and surrender into being, and you are without proper guidance, then this will most likely lead only to a shallow awakening of the state of I am.

Devotees and disciples who lived with Ramana Maharshi at the ashram naturally experienced a profound opening of their hearts and deep surrender to him. Therefore, this didn’t need to be addressed as much, although they still had regular devotional chanting within the ashram, and Ramana himself highlighted the harmonious interplay between the path of nondual devotion and the path of consciousness, and even composed hymns and poems dedicated to Arunachala.

However, in today’s world, outside of retreats, satsangs, or transmissions, most truth-seekers practice alone at home, necessitating a greater conscious emphasis on heart and surrender. This also lifts practical nondual teachings from their often-misinterpreted ambiguity to a clear and precise understanding.

In Hinduism, the terms Atman and Brahman are imbued with a more devotional and surrender-infused flavor, whereas terms like “awareness,” “consciousness,” or even “Self” are generally viewed as neutral. In some languages, the concept of self doesn’t even exist, only the concept of “I.” One could say, “connect with the soul and be one with God,” but this phrasing could also evoke some religious overtones, which might not resonate with everyone, especially without previously subconsciously reframing these designations.

Just to be clear: within a practical approach of nondual sadhana, “I am” is different from “aware of awareness.” The former is surrendering to and as blissful empty awareness, while the latter is being aware of contentless awareness—just empty and spacious awareness, as if it were “missing” its ananda nature. Depending on variables such as your natural inclination, level of maturity, and guidance, your experience of self-awareness may feel more like a “manifested vacuum” than blissful emptiness.

The state of I am is an “upgrade” from the state of presence. Atma-vichara, as Ramana Maharshi termed his practical approach, means investigation or inquiry into atman. So, when his disciples investigated atman (awareness) within their master’s presence, they did so with an open heart and full of surrender. That’s why it worked and led many of them to the natural state and beyond.

Nowadays, modernizing our understanding and approach to spirituality and enlightenment is a beautiful thing, because it enhances their accessibility and efficiency—but we must never lose the richness, otherwise it’s like we’re draining the flavor from a dish by removing all seasoning. That’s why, in the Tree of Liberation, both surrender and heart are integrated with presence. This is what leads to “I am” and to its maturation into the natural state.

#13: Loving relationships on the path: aid or hindrance?

Q: Does a loving relationship aid in spiritual growth, or is it a hindrance?

 

A: In the dynamics of the human experience, relationships serve as a fantastic arena where we face both the joys of love and the challenges of conflict, all of which can shape our identities and the way we approach life. They have the power to reveal our underlying emotional and mental impressions—our vasanas—the unseen puppeteers pulling strings.

What people often call “love” might actually be just attachment—a blend of dependency and possessiveness dressed up as affection. True love, on the other hand, is not an emotional experience that comes and goes. In this context, it is more like a deep, harmonious connection with another being, a unity that goes beyond just emotions or feelings. It’s the recognition of ourselves in the other, the recognition of our shared, essential nature; it’s an experience of oneness.

Take, for example, a non-verbal exchange between lovers: a look that communicates depths beyond words; a touch that narrates entire chapters of understanding; a hug that bursts with the intensity of a supernova’s joy. This isn’t just interaction—it’s a point where two seemingly separate streams converge and blend into a single, unyielding flow of shared existence. In these and many other loving moments of unity, the experience of oneness is palpable, not loud, but like a soft breeze—subtle yet profoundly impactful.

Of course, not every loving relationship will be like this. But even if actual love doesn’t flourish in a relationship, there is still much to learn; they can allow us to discern hidden ego patterns, stubborn non-sattvic behaviors, unresolved issues, etc. Navigating through challenging times enriches our understanding of our emotions, flaws, insecurities, and fears. It can also show us the importance of the spiritual path, surrender, and conscious presence, and that real unconditional love and freedom can only be found and realized in the heart of our being.

Reposing as the joyful self-knowing space of being, we gain a much-needed distance between ourselves as consciousness and our body-mind’s emotional triggers and mental turmoil. In turn, this allows us to better recognize and understand the ego-driven scripts that underlie our emotions, thoughts, and actions, thus giving us more capacity to break free from the all too common drama-filled cycle of reaction and counter-reaction. In this way, relationships are not a hindrance. Living from this deeper state of being, loving relationships can actually become the celebration where true love—the one we can only find within—can flourish.

#14: Love Vs. Attachment

Q: Could you clarify the distinction between love and attachment in personal relationships?

 

A: Love and attachment could not be more different; they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. In a relationship, true love is about experiencing oneness with the other. This genuine love nurtures and supports without clinging, allowing each person to flourish while simultaneously being part of an unseparated whole.

In contrast, attachment often masquerades as love but is driven by neediness, fear of abandonment, and insecurity. It seeks to possess and control, driven by a selfish desire to fulfill one’s own emotional needs.

Understanding these dynamics allows individuals to move from a relationship based on dependency and fear to one based on mutual “sacred” respect and true companionship. This transition not only improves the emotional health of the relationship but also empowers each individual, encouraging personal and spiritual development as well as a more profound expression of that loving connection.

We also have to understand that societal expectations also play a role in this, as they can deeply influence how people perceive and express love. Cultural narratives and media portrayals frequently depict love as a dramatic, all-consuming force that completes an individual, subtly embedding the idea that without romantic love, one is incomplete. They can also impose constraints that may suppress authentic expressions of love. Such portrayals can distort our expectations, resulting in dissatisfaction and an endless pursuit of an idealized, perfect union. There’s no such thing here. To find a perfect union, you should find God—your own true self.

From the ground of pure, unbounded, impersonal love, we stop projecting our needs and insecurities onto others; we actually learn how to appreciate and respect their own uniqueness, creating a more compassionate and supportive relationship. In an environment with less ego, everyone thrives.

More questions and answers coming on July 1st.

If you have any questions or would love to deepen your path, check out the mentorship program.