The Way of Seeing® -- a simple, practical path


On Relationships

The following dialogue occurred during a group meeting with Ken Russell.

Woman: 23 days ago I met a man and I have found myself becoming preoccupied quite easily.
Ken: What are you preoccupied with?
Woman: This man. Thoughts of remembering time with him or just thinking of him in general. A lot of feelings have come with that too.
Ken: And the feelings are?
Woman: Some really good, pleasurable feelings and at other times scary feelings.
Ken: You mean fear? You've actually experienced fear?
Woman: Fear. Definitely fear.
Ken: And do you know what triggered the fear?
Woman: I have thoughts about what could happen if this doesn't go the way I want it to.
Ken: How do you want it to go?
Woman: We'll be together and happy, you know.
Ken: You've been married before?
Woman: Yes.
Ken: How may times?
Woman: Four
Ken: Do you remember a similar process when you first met them? Starting with the thought "But this guy is different."
Woman: Yes, he is. So the question is, do I remember the process? Yes.
Ken: Meeting somebody, the mind going off, wonderful fantasies. And what actually happened?
Woman: I'm no longer with them.
Ken: And so were the fantasies accurate portrayals?
Woman: No.
Ken: Do you believe your present fantasies and expectations are accurate?
Woman: I'm working on not having them.
Ken: Are you sure? You seem to be enjoying them, they're so wonderful. Aren't they?
Woman: It's true.
Ken: That's how your mind seduces you. It creates all these wonderful images in your head and then you feel really good. It's like taking a drug.
Woman: That's what it feels like.
Ken: That's essentially what it is, the mind feeds you images, and the images are so enjoyable you get hooked, as you would on a drug. That's what the fear is about, losing the source of so much pleasure. But it is all imagined. If you look carefully you'll see that your memories were better than the actual experience. The mind cunningly re-writes and edits to enhance your pleasure. Then the drug-like pull of your fantasies and the fear of loss of pleasure cloud your ability to see. So you can't see clearly what is going on in this relationship, you can't evaluate whether this is right for you, whether there is a basis for a long term relationship. If you keep on going with the mind's images, you won't be able to see the guy clearly, because you've made him essential to your happiness. So what I'm saying is, the relationship is fine, but stick with reality.
Woman: Ok. So how do you stop the mind from running the trips?
Ken: Let's say you're driving along in the car and you have the radio on. And the announcer comes on and says, "Drink Coca-cola, it will make you feel great". Do you immediately go to the next 7-11 and buy Coca-cola? What happens? You've heard this wonderful thing, that Coca-cola will be really good for you.
Woman: I guess I have learned to be skeptical of ads.
Ken: You need to learn to be skeptical of the productions of your mind. Just because your mind feeds you thoughts and images does not mean that you have to buy into them. If they are misleading or inappropriate, you ignore them. And you have enough past history to be skeptical of these romantic productions. So you have the option of tuning out these messages.
Woman: Right.
Ken: So doesn't this suggest what to do?
Woman: Ignore it when the mind is doing its fantasy trip.
Ken: Yeah. You have to feed your mind, give it attention which is a form of nourishment. It can't get very far unless you're there cooperating and giving it energy. This approach is so utterly simple. Just don't take these drug-like fantasies and memories. [see article on "Not Harboring Thoughts"]. If you don't get involved with your mental movies you won't be swayed by mind created pleasure and mind created fear. You can just chuckle. You've been there before, you know the scene. This is important if you want the relationship to have a chance of working. You need to be clear about what is actually happening, not what you want to happen.
Woman: I'm not getting married again.
Ken: I am sure you have thought that before. If you stay clear in a relationship there is no need to be concerned about what will happen. You will not be seduced by the mind's fantasies nor driven by the mind's anxieties and fears. If you allow the mind to seduce you with its imagined pleasures and torture you with its fears and anxieties, then a repetition of the past is virtually guaranteed. So just be with this man when you're with him and see what happens. However, there is a more fundamental question: why is your mind leaving the present and fantasizing about this man?
Woman: Because it is seductive, it feels good.
Ken: What's the matter with your present life?
Woman: Nothing.
Ken: Then why are you escaping from it.?
Woman: What do you mean?
Ken: I can see enjoying being with this man. But why are you so preoccupied with it when you are alone? There must be something lacking in your life for you to leave the present by intoxicating yourself with the mind's wonderful fantasies.
Woman: I thought I really liked my life.
Ken: Then why would you be imagining something else?
Woman: Well, it's just fleeting.
Ken: 23 days?
Woman: The thoughts are fleeting, I'm not stuck in a fantasy.
Ken: But you started by saying you were preoccupied. That you are indulging in these very pleasant thoughts and pictures.
Woman: Sometimes.
Ken: What that is pointing out to you, is that there is something not working in your life. You would not be fantasizing about the future or remembering the past if you were satisfied with your present. Do you see this?
Woman: I think so, but could it just be the focus on the now that's lacking?
Ken: Right! But you're not focused on the now because the now is somehow not as good as the fantasy.
Woman: Well, often times I'm hiking, that's one of the most enjoyable things I do, I'm lacking for nothing at that moment.
Ken: Right. But it's very hard to spend ones whole life hiking.
Woman: Ironically, that can be when my mind wanders.
Ken: Wanders onto this man? Or just wanders?
Woman: Right now, a lot of the man.
Ken: So then, are you really enjoying hiking? If you were enjoying hiking, then why are you following the mind out of the present, into a remembered past or an imagined future?
Woman: Ok, but what if it's current happiness?
Ken: He's not there.
Woman: Yeah, ok.
Ken: Why is your mind feeding you something that happened yesterday or the day before that was wonderful? Or something that will happen tomorrow or next week? What is wrong with your present moment?
Woman: What if the other one was better?
Ken: But it is gone, it's only a memory, not the present reality.
Woman: Ok, yes it is. Are memories bad then? I think what you're suggesting is that it's not good, or not desirable to have memories.
Ken: Well, it's like saying, are thoughts bad? Yes and no. Are memories bad? Yes and no. You have to remember certain things to live in the world, names, directions, the language you speak, etc. It is all a question of what you do with your memories. If you indulge yourself in romantic memories, which may not even have happened the way you remember them, then you are taking yourself out of the moment and drugging yourself. What would be far more helpful is to examine why your current life is not fulfilling you and to make changes that would create more fulfillment for you. So, are memories bad? If you use them to intoxicate yourself with pleasure or make yourself anxious with imagined fears, you are not present with your life. If, on the other hand, you look at what is not working in your life now there is the possibility of creating a more fulfilling life now. Ultimately fulfillment comes from within, not from an outside person, thing or accomplishment. Relationships are not the problem, it's what you do with them. You just broke up with somebody else, didn't you?
Woman: A couple of months ago.
Ken: It's just something for you to look at, because the light is within. It's not in this guy, no matter how wonderful he is.
Woman: I know that.
Ken: Do you? How much time are you spending thinking about this guy, and how much time are you spending being quiet with yourself.
Woman: I try to be quiet.
Ken: No, the question was very specific: How much time are you spending with this guy, thinking about him, fantasizing, remembering versus how much time really dedicated to being quiet.
Woman: Probably more of the former.
Ken: Yeah. There's nothing wrong with that, but whatever you do has consequences. You put energy into your life to connect with what's within, with your true nature, and something wonderful can happen. On the other hand, you have been putting energy into the outside, into relationships, and what has it done for you?
Woman: Alright, so I'm putting energy into the external. Is that an absolute that you don't put your energy into the external?
Ken: Let's look at it. Nothing in our human lives can be an absolute. If you don't eat, you'll starve. If you don't work you won't be able to buy food. But you do have discretionary time, time that is completely yours with no obligations. Nisargadatta Maharaj says in "I Am That" that he realized in three years, which is pretty quick, and he's clear on how it happened. He said he spent all of his spare time sitting in silence, looking at himself. If you're determined to realize your true nature then whenever you're not obligated to be doing something, you'll be silent and with yourself. On the other hand, this is very difficult, given our lifestyles. So we choose how much time to devote to our true nature and how much time to pursue our mental fantasies. And we reap the consequences of those decisions. You need to decide what your priorities are.
Woman: Thank you.

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