Making Love Sustainable: Basically Good

Confidence in the goodness of another is good proof of one's own goodness.
Michel de Montaigne


photo via the round peg

Many relationships suffer from a lack of self-esteem. A relationship’s self
esteem is
connected to that of the partner’s but it also has a life of its own. Genuine
esteem is
founded in the courage to see oneself truly, both the positive and negative
aspects of
who we are and how we function and malfunction in the world. This path, which
Buddhists have called the path of the warrior, instructs that even through
struggle and
difficulty, we thrive in the openness of true knowing and seeing. The courage to
the brittle edges and the messy corners of our own life and how we relate to
others offers
its own reward: acknowledging our brokenness is also the gateway to our ability
to bear
witness to our own basic goodness.

Whenever you see a bright and beautiful color, you are witnessing your own
goodness. Whenever you hear a sweet and beautiful sound, you are hearing your
basic goodness. Whenever you taste something sweet or sour, you are experiencing
own basic goodness…. Things like that are always happening to you, but you
have been
ignoring them, thinking that they are mundane and unimportant, purely
coincidences of
an ordinary nature…. Slowly, you begin to realize that you are able to feel the
of realizing your own goodness, again and again.
Chögyam Trungpa

Our relationships are perhaps the most generous and gentle teacher of this
lesson in basic
goodness available to us. No one knows my most brittle edges and the places
where my
heartache can break me like my husband. For years, when our relationship would
out these places in me, it was easy to blame him. At the same time, I didn’t
recognize the
many small moments of tenderness and attentiveness in our life as the inherent
and basic
goodness in us that it was. My identification with what was broken in us became
Being a warrior in our own lives and in our relationships is a steep slope.

Years of practice helped me learn that it was never really my husband, or for
that matter
anyone else, that brought up the harshest parts of who I am. The work of
something good out of what often feels like not enough brought us both to our
knees at
times. This was also true about the places where we each shined. It wasn’t
really the other
person that provoked that steadfast patience with self or others, it was the
basic goodness
of what we were doing together, usually in the smallest details of life that
lifted our head
above the water line.

Making a practice of recognizing your basic goodness in the beauty surrounding
you will
change how you look at the world. Bringing that practice into your relationship
acknowledging the basic goodness that our relationships offer us, especially
when they
drive us crazy, will change how you live with others. Acknowledging the soft
space of
coming home, celebrating of all the little details of making a home with someone
endless opportunities for recognizing the goodness in our lives and our selves.

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