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Conscious Relationships, Functional Boundaries and Playing the Bad Guy
...right action disguised as betrayal


Beauty, love and ecstasy are often victim to our projections of pleasure. From a personal perspective we think of these terms as being purely joyous, light and romantically perfect. Of course, the higher our flights of fantasy, the deeper our plunges into reality.

If you love me, you wont hurt me.
If youre beautiful, youll stay true to your image.
Im on top of the world, and Ill never come down.


Each one of us has a sacred rite of passage akin to the Fisher King. Before his coronation the king-to-be spends a ritual night in the woods. Through the enchantment of this initiation, he sees an image of the grail amidst the flames he is watching. It is in his attempt to touch the chalice that he burns his hands. The elusive cup disappears and he feels the assault of deception. His mortal life is Christened with limitation and pain.

In our innocence we own a world of infinite possibilities and charge blindly into adventure. An essential shift occurs when we receive our inevitable injury and taste the revulsion of consequent pain. Enchantment fades like a temporal mist, and disenchantment initiates the human experience. Our first betrayal initiates us into our warrior truth.

None of us wants to be the source of pain to those whom we cherish. Its terribly difficult for a mother who understands the reasons for a tantrum yet sets limits for her childs unacceptable behavior. Being head-over-heals in love challenges our ownership of personal territory; what happens if I say, No. Thank you.? How often do we hear, Im angry at my therapist! She always ends my session while Im still talking.? Asserting boundaries creates discomfort and resentment. Why should we employ them?

Twelve step programs, Tough Love and Outward Bound are structures which process the merging of care and function. The projection of the unconscious mantra If you loved me... is turned around. Participants learn to say, If I love myself...

This shift is not simple. Creating the opportunity to own our choices and the effects of our actions requires some uncomfortable levels of honesty. Loved ones learn that clarity, directness and compassion are necessary for healing relationships. Quite often we need to accept anger and resentment as natural components in the healing process. If we dont, we merely foster an unyielding grudge.

True repair happens when we consider the gift of responsibility as a tool of personal power. The boundaries which have violated our comfort zone become liberating energies. Its at this moment of realization that we are able to forgive.

There are several publications of spiritual journeys describing the role of teacher and apprentice, including those of Lynn Andrews and Carlos Casteneda. Each illustrates the nature of beauty, love and ecstacy without our familiar projections. The numerous and contrasting quests for knowledge involve common threads of compassion and severity. Native medicine women Ruby and Agnes are fiercely directive with Lynn as she grows through the psychic and physical challenges of her lessons. Don Juan is demanding and relentless in his steering of psychotropic and energetic practices; Carlos is largely in the dark as he seeks an esoteric quest for power.

In addition to the strength of these teachers, there is a constant vigilance of witness and support. The nature of this care isnt romantic or mothering. It is an impersonal reverence which transcends the limits of time and space.

Impersonal love overrides our reactions to interpersonal resentments. Learning that there is a truth which requires some practical decisions to hurt, inhibit or disappoint a loved one is a journey of humility. Sometimes we need to risk losing approval, good standing and affection. It is through these moments when we free ourselves from enabling behaviors and addictive cycles. Weve all experienced the statement, Im doing this for your own good. Its been a harbinger of restrictive action. Imbuing this statement with humility would offer an invocation of trust: I offer this action with the intention of highest good.

The beauty of walking our truth without compromise, is a vertical aesthetic. Its not always pretty. Trusting our inner warrior to be held in impersonal love through acts which earn us disfavor, wont always offer redemption from others. Forgiving ourselves for the human limitations which hide our inherent Divinity, is an act of ecstasy.

by Toni Zuper
Alternative Healing
Center City, Philadelphia


published in Yoga Living -- September 2004 issue