About Your Personal Relationships And Mine

I had a great weekend. It was full of friends and full of me in all my faces. (Hooper, Geek, “Burner,” etc.) I find it fitting that this quote from Barry Magid [link], a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and Zen teacher, show up on the Tricycle blog. [link]

Aristotle said that in order for people to become virtuous, we need role models—others who have developed their capacities for courage, self-control, wisdom, and justice. We may emphasize different sets of virtues or ideas about what makes a proper role model, but Buddhism also asserts that, as we are all connected and interdependent, none of us can do it all on our own.

Acknowledging this dependency is the first step of real emotional work within relationships. Our ambivalence about our own needs and dependency gets stirred up in all kinds of relationships. We cannot escape our feelings and needs and desires if we are going to be in relationships with others. To be in relationships is to feel our vulnerability in relation to other people who are unpredictable, and in circumstances that are intrinsically uncontrollable and unreliable.

You can read more from Barry in this excerpt from his latest book, Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide. [link]


I look at the metrics of this site quite a bit so I have a suspicion that most people won’t click to read the article where this quote is from and that is not what I would like, especially in this case. So I am posting a bit more about this concept because it is really important to me that you at least read it.

It’s important because the things I am about to highlight from the article are some of the basic core concepts that I believe in from the bottom of my heart. These concepts fuel my belief that all people in my life should be treated as a rose (within reason) and why I believe I must be treated like a rose in everyone’s life I am in (within reason).

It is also why I believe it can be healthy for some people to practice multiple intimate relationships congruently or as appropriate to their life situation.

Relationships aren’t just crutches that allow us to avoid … fears; they also provide conditions that enable us to develop our capacities so we can handle them [fears] in a more mature way.

It’s not just a parent-child relationship or a relationship with a partner that does that. The relationship of a student with a teacher, between members of a sangha, between friends, and among community members—all help us to develop in ways we couldn’t on our own. Some aspects of ourselves don’t develop except under the right circumstances.

We learn to keep our relationships and support systems in good repair because we admit to ourselves how much we need them. We take care of others for our own sake as well as theirs. We begin to see that all our relationships are part of a broad spectrum of interconnectedness, and we respect not only the most intimate or most longed-for of our relationships but also all the relationships we have—from the most personal to the most public—which together are always defining who we are and what we need in order to become fully ourselves.

Relationships work to open us up to ourselves. But first we have to admit how much we don’t want that to happen, because that means opening ourselves to vulnerability.

Now A Music Therapy Moment makes more sense, n’est ce pas?


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