The teachings of Ram Dass are vast. The phrase I’ve heard so often “it’s like drinking from a firehose” comes to mind. I find myself immersed in particular concepts or even just a string of a few words. I find myself repeating those words, writing them down everywhere. Repeating them. Trying to internalize them. It’s amazing how much meat there is to chew on, how much there is to digest in such a small package. I want to absorb it all.

But in order to do that I need to indulge my process. And my process is to write and to share. Big thoughts and concepts in such a small package. In and of itself Ram’s words are a teaching. How he speaks and how his delivery touches each of us through the airwaves. Words he’s spoken 40 years ago and words he still speaks today still have the same resonance and depth.

Ram Dass portrait artwork

I’m setting an intention to use this public space as a tool for my own analysis and to organize my thoughts in a way that others who are unfamiliar can become familiar with his teachings without needing to identify with him specifically. The concepts are all the same and it’s all stuff we already know, we only need some help in remembering. 

Today I want to talk about what it means to feed a relationship with consciousness. 

Taking a moment to pause – I sit here and breathe this question in. This nugget of thought was presented to me through the Love, Serve, Remember Foundation’s Yoga of Relationships course.

In this particular lecture Ram shares a bit about “Given Karma” and “Acquired Karma”. The way I understand it is that Given Karma is that which results from relationships you don’t choose: your parents, your children, those you interact with on a day-to-day basis where you have no control of who you interact with. Where Acquired Karma results from choices that are made consciously, like entering a new relationship.

Ram continues to speak on relationship, and more specifically, marriage. He explains that the in the sacred bond of marriage the once Acquired Karma of the relationship shifts to Given Karma when the couple decides consciously to be with one another “until death do us part”. This distinction changes the relationship, as you would expect. It’s subtle, and monumental, all at the same time. 

As I continue to sit with this concept, now getting back to the idea of feeding a relationship with consciousness, I’m peeling back layers of surface judgments and understanding. It feels appropriate to begin with a clear understanding of what it is to NOT feed a relationship with consciousness:

It is not getting stuck in drama.
It is not blaming the other.
It is not shaming the other.
It is not manipulation.
It is not guilt or jealousy or anger.
It is not staying silent when the truth needs to be heard.
It is not cowering in the face of adversity or challenge.
It is not turning your back to one’s vulnerability.

To feed a marriage with consciousness is to step behind the drama of the mind and to rest in the origin of love.. of connection. It is to stand behind thought and meet in a place of truth, which is that we are each a soul who was born and who is playing the game of life. It is to see yourself as a soul and your partner as another soul. One of my favorite things Ram Dass uses to describe this is seeing the other person like they’re filling out a space suit (and you yourself the same) and saying to them: “Oh, hello, I’m in here, how’d you get into that one?”
 
When we enter a relationship, particularly one where we end up devoting ourselves for the rest of our lives, there’s a certain quality of trust and surrender. Even if we don’t know the other person very well, we’re ready to give up all of our judgments and worries and anxieties just to dive into the sea that is this other person. Any fear or reserves from past relationships melt away. They simply become irrelevant.
 
As time passes this non-judgemental way of being, the vulnerability we begin with is covered up by habit and thought and pain. It takes work to stay soft and vulnerable enough to be open. Being vulnerable in this way is the strongest way we can be, it’s just that our minds don’t believe that to be true. 
 
Ram Dass Quote
 
A conscious relationship is one that is fully aware of the roles each party plays. It knows that the connection between these two bodies is at a much deeper level than can ever be seen or experienced with the other senses. It’s a deep, permeating awareness and knowing that we share the same soul. The soul in me sees and recognizes the soul in you. In this place, we are the same. 
 
A conscious marriage is one that invites in the challenges of the world with open arms while standing strong in this place of “the one”. It’s a relationship that’s rooted in love, in unity, and in non-judgment. It’s a container that’s full of acceptance, patience, compassion, and warmth. It’s a fertile ground for growth, where the seeds are life are nourished and cared for so that growth is allowed and there’s plenty of space to rest in.
 
It’s important to bring these high-flying concepts and realizations down to earth. And that’s another reason why I appreciate and love Ram Dass’ teachings so, so much. He has remained so grounded yet so light throughout his life, only so to share it with us! 
 
What does this look like for me? 
 
This last year has been the most challenging time for my husband and I. We’ve learned more about ourselves and our relationship in this last year than we have in the 7 years we’ve been together. 

Feeding a conscious relationship for us has looked like:

Allowing anger, sadness, and pain to be present, without trying to fix or change it.
Giving each other space when we need it.
Respecting boundaries.
Scheduling large chunks of time to be alone together.
Delegating tasks and responsibilities based on what we each like to do vs. any societal norms or expectations.
Sticking out hard conversations sometimes by just sitting in silence.

These are only a few examples that come up mind where I’ve experienced a pure quality of trust, surrender, and deep love for my husband while surfing the waves of life. We’re only one year married and seven years together, so I know we’re only touching the surface of this stuff. But I also appreciate the lineage we’ve come from, the histories of our parents and our families and what’s brought us here, to do this work, now. I know that we are diving deep into the ocean of love that exists between the two of us and I know that we’re opening ourselves up to its flow more and more each day.

Even when we feel lost and scared, we’re still right here. We’re honoring our differences and our unique qualities. We embrace our challenges and our soft spots because we know they push us towards growth and ultimately, towards freedom. Freedom that holds those closest to us and embraces all souls. A license of openness and compassion that is felt in every moment. 

 
– Amanda