Ten Lessons for a Revolution – #7: Engage in Genuine Intimacy
Real Intimacy is recognizing our borders – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually – as opportunities to meet and grow, rather than as places to defend and keep others out.
The days of the Occupy camps are gone now. Still with us, though, is the experience people had living in community. When people live, cook, sleep and spend long periods of time together intimacy is inevitable. As our personalities rub up against others we get in touch with our individual quirks and limitations, as well as with our blind spots and triggers for reactivity. Communal living is the true test of our ability to connect our inner reality with our outer goals.
“Psychology” has us believing that intimacy is merely a relationship or family issue. We certainly do learn about intimacy in our families and with our partners. But if we wish to foster a more benevolent earth it is crucial that we learn to be intimate with every aspect of life, from our innermost being to our relationship with the stars. If we want to change our individualistic, consumer-driven culture, then we have to build new communities, which ironically starts by becoming intimate with ourselves.
When we are intimate with all that we are – our bodies, our energy, our minds – including all of our “dark” parts, then being with others becomes a blessing (for more on this topic, please see radical self-acceptance) rather than struggle. In fact, to really blossom into a full human being we require the company of others – because, just as a mirror helps us to clean the dirt off our face, the company of another helps us to see parts of ourselves we would never see otherwise.
When we have the level of intimacy of “radical self-acceptance” then it becomes possible to have real intimacy with others and with Nature at large. This true intimacy demands complete acceptance of “other,” which provides the ground for compromise that enables the greatest benefit for all. Otherwise, without this base, we are always relating in an attempt to fill some delusory need and our efforts will be ultimately, if even subtly or unconciously, selfish.
Real intimacy, then, born from self-acceptance, allows us unconditional acceptance of:
- The outcome of relationships (whether or not they last “forever”) – our motivation for being in the relationship is clear so we are not attached to a specific result.
- The personality and preferences of another – when we are free of projections based on self-defense we relate to the unique expression of another without fear. Because we are comfortable and familiar with our own personality foibles we are able to handle the ocassional turbulence that is natural and necessary to every relationship.
- Unbroken openness – With radical self-acceptance we recognize that we are innately full, that we are intrinsically okay. This way, we have nothing to defend because we are no longer attached to people, things or ideas as the source of our satisfaction. We are, then, open to experience life fully in its unbridled grandeur, embracing both positive and negative.
- Complete acceptance of another’s nadi (path/destiny in life) - Normally, we hold judgments about what others “should” be doing, not understanding that everyone has a unique path. All any of us can do is live the life we were designed for. Carl Jung said, and I paraphrase, “The greatest mistake we can make is to assume another has the same inner-experience that we do.” We literally see, feel, taste and touch entirely different worlds. We will never achieve anything great until we learn to open to, accept, respect, appreciate and learn from the way others walk in the world.
Imagine the difference in our society if, free from fear, we did not try to change the other in intimate relationships, if we were ready to always expect the unexpected, if we could lovingly and compassionately be present with life as it is, rather than struggling to make it the way we think it should be? Am I suggesting being at “ease” with racism, for example? Actually, yes. But we can be at ease while powerfully working to change something.
I am suggesting that a strong root of personal and societal ills is our fear of intimacy. This fear is a by-product of a shaky ego that is attached and fixated on a limited view of what a civil society “should be” and on sub-clinical obsessions with taking care of me and mine.
It is possible to live free from this fear. And, when we are internally free as individuals then, and only then, are we truly open to build an enlightened society.
Sound lofty to you? How can we possibly become this fearless and at ease? One way is by understanding how our ego works and to discover the windows of our personality that lead into infinite openness and flexibility. But that is the subject of Lesson 8 – Learn to be Flexible, Porous.
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