View this post on Instagram
“If you were quiet enough to hear you would hear it all. You would know everything intuitively not conceptually. You wouldn’t know you know but you would know; and if you were trusting the knowing, not knowing you know-if you didn’t need to know you knew but you just needed to know you would be able to act in such a way that would keep you from being surprised all the time.” ~ Ram Dass
When it comes to modern dating—specifically online dating—I have always suffered from the most disheartening “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” phenomena.
Usually, a woman will ask me about my day job—I’m a truck driver, thank you very much—the way they might ask a mortician about what they do for a living. Except, they would probably extend more politeness to the mortician because, well, they get to wear a nice suit and tie at least part of the time.
At the point where the occupation question gets introduced, my strategy is to bring up my book. I use the word “strategy,” but it is only a strategy in the same way a five-year-old has a strategy of putting an O in front of the X in tic-tac-toe. The effort is a valiant one, but entirely fruitless.
Being the author of a recovery book, at least in the world of OkCupid, is practically tantamount to having a book called, My Life As A Leper. Nine times out of ten, if my less than glamorous union job doesn’t end the conversation, the fact that I have not lived an entirely virtuous life will.
I imagine there are no shortage of well-meaning readers who are readying their little fingers to type some advice that I should first learn how to love myself, that I should try to be happy by myself, that I will never have a healthy relationship if I don’t first…blah blah blah.
Up until recently, I wholly disagreed. Half the country is actively in flames at the moment. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead or dying from a global pandemic with no known cure. Ninety percent of the wealth in our country is presently possessed by four people while millions of others are facing hunger and homelessness. Eighty percent of the population couldn’t withstand a $400 emergency. Given all this, my desire to find a lady friend didn’t really seem that destructive. At least not in a big picture way.
I was virtually married to this stubborn point of view right until I accidentally stumbled across a talk that Ram Dass gave at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York some time in the 90s. He told a story of how, only one month prior, he was caught in a serious earthquake in San Francisco. In the moment that doors were flying open and books were falling off shelves, he wasn’t sure if that was how everything was going to end for him—and all he could think was, “Ah…so.”
As he received laughter from his audience, he expanded the point he was making by telling the parable of a monk being falsely accused of siring a child. The townspeople marched the infant to the monastery and demanded the monk to take custody of him. “Ah, so,” said the monk. Eight years later, when it was discovered that the mother lied—that someone else was truly the child’s father—the townspeople showed up to take the boy away. Once again, the monk only replied “Ah, so.”
And on and on.
This point was not lost on me. We have, within our power, the ability to turn everything into a drama or simply realize that we are living out our dharma. Hardship, sadness, grief—even dying, Ram Dass explained, is just a part of our curriculum here on Earth.
In my case, it is time for me to learn to love myself; to step away from the need to be validated by the love of another. The state of our present world is no excuse to ignore this.
Other teachings that apply to modern dating include:
It is totally natural to be in love with someone and lust after another. In our most awakened state, we can use that desire for the love of another to propel us to do more selfless works. It is a minor adjustment only.
When we extend our need for acceptance rooted in the ego to love of all humanity, we are obeying our higher selves. The truth is we need not admonish ourselves. Lust and humanity originate from the same place.
If you are rejected—or perhaps when you are rejected—the common reaction is to harbor resentment for the person. I know because this happened to me just this week in the form of “I don’t date addicts. Recovering, not recovering—makes no difference to me.”
According to Ram Dass, when we judge a person like this we are only fitting them into the role we see them in as it pertains to “our trip.” We must accept that everyone is living their dharma and wish them well on their path.
In another Q and A session at The Omega Institute, an audience member asked Ram Dass about the ability to cultivate relationships with those who have passed. In response, the teacher spoke of the mind’s addiction to the physical manifestation of love. “After some time, a person who has grieved openly and honestly will, in their quiet moments, start to experience the existence of that love untouched.”
By extension, the same can be said for a partner we have separated from. They might be gone, but in our quiet moments, we can reach that love again.
For now, I’m about to leave internet dating sites alone—but I am doing it in a much different way than I have in the past. This time, it will be through light and acceptance. And if, God forbid, I need to go through all this again, brushing up on the teachings of Baba Ram Dass might be the better way to go.