In my July 29th 2011 Newsletter I criticized (married) spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen for saying that "romantic love relationships should be somewhere between priority number four to ten in our lives".
After reading his inspiring new book Evolutionary Enlightenment with chapters such as "Face Everything and Avoid Nothing" (including love relationships??), "A Higher We", "Catalyzing Emergence", "Creating the Future", and "The Edge of Evolution", I was even more puzzled by his statement, so I contacted Andrew and he was gracious enough to talk with me for an hour this week.
He first clarified that the whole notion of relationship and relatedness has been the most important part of his work for many years. For him, any form of purposeful, transcendent intimacy is the goal of spiritual practice, and what his teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment is all about. His interest is first and foremost in inter-subjective non-duality and the significant effects it has on cultural evolution, versus the subjective experiences of non-duality in individuals.
That said, Andrew observed that many people see romantic love and sex as a substitute for--or even as a path to--authentic awakening, when it can actually be a hindrance. He therefore gives the pursuit of need-based "relative" romantic love relationships a low priority in the larger context of awakening to our authentic self and all that it entails, because such relationships often lead to sexual and emotional attachment instead of spiritual liberation. But once this spiritual liberation is achieved, he says that its expression is most explicitly and most importantly seen in the quality, depth, profundity and greater significance of all our relationships, including intimate/sexual love relationships.
To me it seems that as a spiritual teacher, Andrew naturally puts the emphasis on Evolutionary Enlightenment and all that it entails (as outlined in his new book). Healthy intimate love relationships may then happen as a result, or not. He concludes in aBlog about the multiple meanings of love: "Some of those rare souls who have drunk deep from the source of the Absolute can literally no longer even relate to any dimension of personal or relative love, while others are able to embrace both dimensions simultaneously."
From the perspective of other teachers and Evolutionaries, the profound healing, learning and growth that can lead to enlightenment often occurs through our intimate love relationships, because they entail all seven chakras, force us to face our deepest shadows, and are more likely to prevent spiritual bypassing (see new book by Robert Augustus Masters). As (now married) Eckhart Tolle, who reportedly awoke outside a love relationship, wrote: "Avoidance of relationships in an attempt to avoid pain is not the answer either. The pain is there anyway. Three failed relationships in as many years are more likely to force you into awakening then three years on a desert island shut away in your room."
To me, both paths, or a combination of both, with the guidance of a spiritual path/teacher and, if necessary, therapy, seem viable, and hardly anyone questions the importance of healthy love relationships for a sustainable future for all humanity.
At the end of our conversation, in which we touched on topics such as Tantra, feminine/masculine polarities, procreation, anima/animus complex, transcend and include/exclude, and the Wilber-Combs Lattice, Andrew and I agreed that we need more couples in Evolutionary Integral Relationships because, as Andrew writes in his new book: "Finding each other--finding those other individuals who feel as passionately as we do about the evolution of consciousness and culture--liberates and uplifts our spirits and gives us the inspiration to take bold steps we otherwise might not have the courage to take."
Evolutionary Enlightenment in combination with Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men provides you with a path to balancing and harmonizing feminine/masculine polarities, higher stages of transpersonal consciousness, non-dual spirituality, transcendent sexuality, and healed anima/animus complex that makes Evolutionary Integral Relationships a possibility.
Please join us:
- Talk to your partner about the evolutionary potentials of your relationship.
- Find/attract a partner for an Evolutionary Integral Relationship if you are single.
- Order a signed copy of Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men at a 50% discount.
- Forward this newsletter to your friends and invite them to join our mailing list at www.integralrelationship.com
- Join us on www.facebook.com/integralrelationship and post your questions and experiences.
* A few more quotes from Evolutionary Enlightenment that touched me:
Page 174: "Anyone can experience egoless consciousness in the stillness and solitude of deep meditation. But if we want to catalyze evolution in consciousness and culture, we are going to have to share our deepest convictions and spiritual intuitions of what's possible, and then work hard, together, to make that possibility a reality."
Page 191: "At the heart of this new order of human relatedness lies the ongoing interplay of several dynamic principles: the simultaneous experience of autonomy and communion, the vertical pull of evolutionary tension, and the generative spark ofcreative friction."
Page 192: "When two or more people transcend ego together, such a seemingly paradoxical event [simultaneous experience of autonomy and communion] can happen."
Page 193: "When an individual experiences powerful autonomy, it's often at the expense of communion with others."
Page 194: "Evolutionary tension is the experiential quality of the new consciousness that is liberated between individuals who come together in autonomy and communion. That's what authentic, evolutionary enlightened spiritual partnership is all about."
Page 196: "Did you know that human beings only develop through interaction with each other?"
Page 197: "Remember, the relationships we engage in and the values we share create the structure of the intersubjective dimension, which is culture."
Page 198: "What happens to love when God becomes the evolutionary impulse, or Eros? That's the emergence of a very different form of love--the expression of God as Becoming."
Page 203: "If you are trying to do something genuinely new [such as an Evolutionary Integral Relationship], you have to be a pioneer, you have to be a change-agent. Otherwise, you are going to be following the beaten path, living out the patterns that have been formed by countless others."