by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna
Everyone wants love and yet today it seems more difficult than ever to know how to build a lasting relationship and find the fulfillment we desire.
In many circles, traditional relationships and commitment are a thing of the past. For many, it has become hard to find a suitable partner and create a lasting home.
It’s useful to take a new look, from an old point of view about what love is and how to find it. Both Zen and Jewish practice offer unique point of view about love, which can ease the loneliness many today experience.
Love in Jewish Practice
In Jewish practice, it is in the very process of being in relationship, in which we learn what it means to love. In Jewish practice, romantic feelings, which come and go, are not a foundation for lasting love. The wedding is just a beginning; the person you marry is there to show you what it means to love.
Your partner is your teacher, to show you the ways you need to grow. You focus on caring for and serving your partner, not on being served. When your partner is disturbing you, they are giving you an opportunity to grow. Thank them for behaving this way. They are teaching you to let go of self-centered focus, accept differences, be patient and not judge.
Zen Practice and Love
Zen practice asks that we first establish the ability to love within. We step back from the chase and ask what it is we are truly seeking and what it is we lack? Many feel something is missing without a partner. If they cannot or do not find their perfect partner, they are unworthy or have failed. But who is searching, and who must be found?
From the Zen point of view, this search for ourselves in another person is dangerous and misleading. Just as you are, you are complete and whole. Nothing need be added. Your original nature encompasses all; it is neither male nor female, big nor small. The feeling that you lack something comes from obsession with seeking your good outside of yourself. In the practice of zazen as we sit, we become aware of our false ideas, fears and constrictions and let them go. As we do so, we become readily able to see the beauty in others and to love and care for all.
What About Falling in Love?
Jewish practice also teaches that the experience of falling in love is not necessarily healthy; it can be a blessing or a curse. The emotions connected to falling in love can be so intense that unless you are prepared, they can cause difficulty and blindness of all kinds. For example, you may not know if what you feel is love or some kind of fantasy infatuation. When intoxication lessens and you see things clearly, you may wonder what you ever saw in the person in the first place.
Psychological and spiritual preparation for this event serves as a protective shield, and directs the intense emotions of the heart. However, in Jewish practice relationship is always crucial. The relationship between man and woman is considered so important that the quality of a person’s marriage can tell you everything about who they are. A student wanted to find the best Rebbe to study with. He went around asking, “How can I know if this Rebbe is really great?” Finally a great scholar answered, “If you want to know the quality of the Rebbe, look how happy he makes his wife.”
Jewish practice teaches that a truly matched couple are two parts of the same soul, destined to unite. When you are longing for your true partner, you are actually longing for the other part of your soul. However, you have to develop to a level where you can be suitable for the person who is meant for you. If you want to find your soul mate, first attend to your soul – refine your character, increase your goodness.
In Zen practice we do not connect with our soul mates but with our authentic selves. As we live from what is most deep and real, all separation and loneliness dissolve and love naturally arises for all. At this time it is not necessary to seek that one particular person, each person we encounter is simply another part of ourselves, there to be appreciated, nourished and cared for in anyway we can.
Whether based upon Jewish or Zen practice, all relationships which are grounded in the ability to care for and nourish others can only become a source of strength and wisdom for all concerned.
From Sarah: I discovered Dr. Shoshanna just a few weeks ago and quickly got her permission to reprint her articles…she’s amazing, and you’ll love her book “Save Your Relationship.” Just go here to read more about Dr. Shoshanna and get quick, new help in your search for love–>>