The Tao of Relationship

the tao of relationship — learning to be clear

pointing the finger

A Change of Heart

© Wayne C Allen

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 above 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 since I read it a few days ago:

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 “being not 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.

In other words, what if it was possible to see things just as they are, and at the same time to drop the judgments, 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.

Now, 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. Terrorists are shooting up Mumbai, people are dying of aids and starvation, and war is everywhere. The economy is in the tanker, and all is grim.

I ask you to look at your suppositions.

Philosophically, we can all agree that no terrorism, 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 they do not touch you directly, you simply bitch, and moan, and complain about them. You might march, or make a donation, or write your Congressman 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 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 up there, rattling around in your head. Most of my clients have one or more family members they are mad at, think abused them, or who are not living right (according to them.) They tell me in glowing detail what’s wrong with these other people, and how they should change. If the topic is the economy or politics, same thing.

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 one or two people 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 that 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.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “The Tao of Relationship”

  1. Perhaps, you can let go of the need to make yourself miserable, as you judge, label, and attempt to fix.” — Great post. This is so true. Or as one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, likes to say, “Don’t look for occasions to get offended.”

    • Steven King, in “Lacey’s Story,” say something like, “90% of what people worry themselves about is none of their damn business.”
      Thanks for your comments.


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