tao of relating

On the Tao of Relating

the tao of relat­ing  —  learn­ing to be clear, to be hon­est, and to be present with what is.

Look­ing for more on this topic? 

Check out my book, Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall.

Wayne’s “East­ern” book takes you by the hand and helps you to find peace of mind. Half Asleep in the Bud­dha Hall is a Zen-based guide to liv­ing life ful­ly and deeply.

It’s a Mirror

I’m not going to spend a lot of time review­ing the myr­i­ad of arti­cles I’ve writ­ten over the years, detail­ing what can and does go wrong in rela­tion­ships.

The short­hand is pic­tured in the image–finger-pointing is a sym­bol for the dance of right­ness, cor­rect­ness, obe­di­ence, and manipulation.

There’s an odd expec­ta­tion that oth­ers should be there as we want them to be, doing our bid­ding, and chang­ing when­ev­er we issue a direc­tive. And when they don’t, out come the histrionics–whatever it will take to break the oth­er per­son­’s resolve.

The best rela­tion­ships, on the oth­er hand, offer nothing–other than a mir­ror.

Next week, we’ll be look­ing at the bal­ance of self-know­ing, and I’ve found a pile of new stuff to quote. But one line has stuck in my mind for today’s tome:

Hap­pi­ness requires a cer­tain sur­ren­der. Your unhap­pi­ness is thread­ed through your idea of you. Hap­pi­ness would over­turn some things you know about your­self. Hap­pi­ness asks, “Are you will­ing to be a dif­fer­ent you?” Or, “Are you will­ing to be not you?“

John Tar­rant, Bring Me the Rhi­noc­er­os, pg. 147

I want to talk next week more specif­i­cal­ly about what “not being you” might look like. The best way to dis­cov­er this, I believe, is in relationship.

The Tao of it all

The Tao is the ener­gy of life, the un-named thing that runs like a cur­rent through every­thing. Once you catch a glimpse, you can choose to see with dif­fer­ent eyes.

What if it was possible to see things just as they are, and at the same time to drop the judgements, stories, and dramas we normally connect to the things of our life?

Mir­ror­ing is a tech­nique for reflect­ing back what you see anoth­er doing. In a sense, it’s all about help­ing your part­ner see two things: 

  1. the issue, and 
  2. the dra­ma being cre­at­ed over the issue. 

In a sense, it’s a call back into the present moment, by dis­con­nect­ing the present issue from the past and future projections.

The idea of self as mir­ror has its misuses. 

One per­son Dar­bel­la and I knew was a mas­ter at using mir­ror­ing as an escape. We would offer to hold up the mir­ror for her–so that she might see her stick­ing points, and imme­di­ate­ly she’d say, “That’s your issue which you are pro­ject­ing (mir­ror­ing) on me.” 

Our intent was benign–to say, “Are you aware of this?” Her intent was to run quick­ly away from self examination.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my back goes up a bit when Dar says, “You might want to look at what you are set­ting up there.” I am so invest­ed in my sto­ry, my pre­con­ceived notion of what is going on, that I have to real­ly work at “just look­ing, just seeing.” 

I want it to be the way I imag­ine it, as I have my self, my view, and my dis­tress all rolled up in the game.


Yup. We’ll say more about this next week, but the quote above is a reflec­tion on a line from the Bud­dha: “Are you afraid of this happiness?” 

The hap­pi­ness he was con­sid­er­ing is the Tao–the essen­tial nature of every­thing. If we are not afraid, then every­thing is per­fect, just as it is. What we see, what we feel, who we are at our cores–it’s all “just as it is, right now.”

OK. I know. You’ve been con­di­tioned to find end­less things wrong with your­self and emphat­i­cal­ly with every­one and every­thing around you. You’ve spent a life­time blam­ing and fin­ger point­ing, and your sense of enti­tle­ment and right­eous indig­na­tion has empow­ered your life–and your misery.

Giving this up is scary–who will I be if I am not judging everything and finding it wanting?

But, it’s a mad, bad world

Yup, and right now, in this moment, all there is, is this arti­cle and wher­ev­er you are sit­ting. Now, I know. Wars are every­where, peo­ple are dying of star­va­tion, and … Trump. All is grim.

I ask you to look at your suppositions.

Philo­soph­i­cal­ly, we can all agree that food for every­one, no dis­ease, and an end to war would be a “good thing.” But think, real­ly think, about your approach to such to such topics. 

If such events do not touch you direct­ly, you sim­ply bitch, and moan, and com­plain about them. You might march, or make a dona­tion, or write your Leg­is­la­tor or MP, but in the end, your grip­ing about the plight of oth­ers changes nothing. 

It’s just anoth­er top­ic for the week­ly bitch-fest down at the local water­ing hole.

If you do con­front any of these issues direct­ly, you know that there is noth­ing to be gained by grip­ing. You have to deal, imme­di­ate­ly and clear­ly, with what­ev­er it is. The more clar­i­ty and direct­ness you can bring to bear, the more like­ly you will shift things, a lot or a bit.

Most of what you make yourself miserable over is stuff over which you have no control.

It’s just up there, rat­tling around in your head. 

I suggest that the point of relationship is to learn more about yourself.

Notice when you are up in arms over some­one else–how emphat­ic you can get about how you life is mis­er­able because of others. 

In order to find bal­ance you must learn to let go.

This is the real point of relating–to bring some­one along for your ride, and to give them per­mis­sion to real­ly see you, hear you, and wit­ness the fool­ish­ness that goes on between your ears.

If you allow your­self to let go of your sto­ries, eva­sions, block­ages, and judge­ments, you’ll find that things around you sim­ply exist on their own. They are as they are, and they real­ly don’t need you fix­ing them. 

You begin to see the light, the Tao, of every­thing, and you let them be. You find a deep­er sense of self-mean­ing, as your self is all you can work on directly.

Sometimes, reaching out is reaching in

Then, as you reach out, you find one or two inti­mate friends–people will­ing to walk with you, be with you, and emphat­i­cal­ly to call you on your fool­ish­ness, your blam­ing, and your games. And you can do the same for them.

Dar and I still bitch and moan. We find all kinds of things not to like about life, about the world, about peo­ple we know. We lis­ten to each oth­er as we strip flesh off of the straw dogs we cre­ate, and we laugh. 

When we make our­selves mis­er­able, we encour­age the active expres­sion of the emo­tion, while clear­ly deny­ing that the cause is “out there.”

And most­ly, we hang out with­out judge­ment, lis­ten­ing to each oth­er, laugh­ing with and at each oth­er, and not tak­ing the dra­mas and games very seri­ous­ly at all.

This week, exam­ine your rela­tion­ships. Won­der which ones are worth sus­tain­ing, and how many of them you can “just have,” with­out the sto­ries and misery. 

Per­haps, you can let go of the need to make your­self mis­er­able, as you judge, label, and attempt to fix. 

You may just find that the end result of drop­ping the games is an over­whelm­ing rush of hap­pi­ness. Right here, right now, in this very world, no mat­ter how it appears.

Scroll to Top