Author Topic: Relationships and the Spiritual Path  (Read 488 times)


  • Jess
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  • Be happy 🙏
    • Vipassana (S.N Goenka)
Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« on: November 06, 2019, 09:37:05 PM »

I was wondering if anyone might be able to relate.

I have been practicing Vipassana for 5 years now and I feel devoted to this path, I want my life and my future infused with this practice forever; I want to travel around the world practicing and serving at different centers, I want to do Pali workshops, I want to go on pilgrimages, everything.

My question is around relationships and the spiritual path. I am in a new relationship and am very happy, however he does not have the same desire for the path as I do, when I see my future doing all of these things I feel like there is no time left for him.

I find myself wondering if it is more beneficial to have a relationship with someone who shares the same dreams, that way we can strengthen our practice together. Or, is it better to be without a relationship all together.

For example: if I was on my own for my holidays this year, I would be spending all my time at my Vipassana center, sitting and serving. And that's what I feel the pull to do. But he wants me to go on a trip with him, which I also want to do because I want to spend all of my time with him. This is my predicament.

A wise old man named Ketut said "It's ok to lose your balance for love. It's part of living a balanced life".

Any advice is hugely appreciated!

With Metta 🙏


dharma bum

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Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2019, 01:53:24 AM »
This is my personal opinion and not from any Buddhist position. In my opinion, the goal of Buddhism is to become a good person. Doing Pali worshops, attending and serving at retreats is not the path. Being a good person is the path. If your partner is a reasonably good person and you are happy with him, you should be happy and content with your situation.
Mostly ignorant


  • Staff
    • unlearning, relearning and letting go
Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2019, 06:10:06 AM »
Hello Jess,
A big part of the path is to be present in the now. Having an organic feeling to serve and eradicate suffering is wholesome,
but having Clinging towards what you are going to do in the future and then aversion at the thought of your relationship coming in the way is mostly your mind working towards a path of suffering.
You will suffer more in your mind than you might possibly if you stay in the present and deal with it in its own merit.
It is very easy to be said than to be done and that is the whole path.

In my opinion(wisened from past experiences), if you resonate with someone, there is something to it which is beyond your intellect, and it is our ego or assertion of self which focuses upon hypothetical dangers of companionship.
Vipassana or not, any two persons are going to have a divergent vision for their future and if they are clinging to it incessantly, will never be compatible with each other,
yet we feel that connect with some people every once in a while. From a lot of personal events, i have realised that these connections should be cherished, trying to keep as much honesty, openness and mutual respect as possible, and being okay with the time that it lasts.

Not investing in someone just because they will not be with you for a prolonged period is being ignorant to the fundamental doctrine of impermanence which is drilled into vipassana meditators. Also the quantum of the good you do, is not dependent on the external that you do, or the money that you donate or the hours of service; all these being organic extentions of the inner metta that arises as part of the practice. Forcing yourself in a future vision to serve does not serve you on the path.

Anyways, This is more my opinion than wisdom and bound to suffer from personal biases and experiences.

With Metta,
And what is good, Phædrus,
And what is not good...
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?


  • Jess
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  • Be happy 🙏
    • Vipassana (S.N Goenka)
Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2019, 08:24:07 AM »
I'm sorry I can't figure out how to reply to each person individually.

So thank you both, I really appreciate the great advice, this has woken me out of my ignorance that I keep falling back into lol.

I guess the reason I feel the desire to pursue such a life is because it makes me a better person, in other words, I cause less harm to others. Breaking it down that is the fundamental reason for, I guess craving this so much. Though I'm sure there is ego intent hiding in there as well.

This so far is the longest I have been without doing a 10 day course and I have been falling apart, having panic attacks, being overwhelmed with uni and work, unable to handle the stresses of life with equanimity. And I notice how much pain I cause my loved ones because of it and that hurts me more than anything. So this is why it causes a "needing" and "clinging" in me. I'm not sure what to do.


  • Staff
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    • S. N. Goenka switched to Samatha Forest Tradition
Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2019, 08:35:15 PM »
Hi Jess,

There are quite a few people in this forum who have very normal day to day life and practice meditation. If you are really happy in the relationship then you should try to do meditation in your home and probably go to retreat once in a year or two. Your partner probably will agree with that. I feel why people do the meditation is to be free from thoughts or mind. I don't really see how attending pali workshops will help you do that.

Also I particularly like some part of Buddhism but I do not subscribe all the part. I don't really agree with many points being told in Goenka retreat. I don't really believe that only way to collect parami is by serving in the retreat. You can be beneficial in your day to day life by being truthful, honest or helping others as well.

So, my point is you should really think very hard before taking such kind of decision also talk to your closed ones instead of completely relying on the forum because no one really knows you here.

Try to manage both for few months or year may be. The Vipassana retreats aren't running away.

May be cut short your meditation time for few months and see how that makes you feel. Are you stressed because you aren't doing enough meditation or are you doing too much of it?

All the best.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2019, 08:38:08 PM by raushan »


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Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 09:18:05 PM »
Hi Jess

I can relate to some of the stuff your talking about. Will have more to add soon,  have to finish off some chores first. Take care!


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Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2019, 01:55:42 AM »
Hey Jess!

Had a lot to say but had to cut it short. Didn't want to bore you to death. Sorry for the long post.


Jess said: "I feel devoted to this path, I want my life and my future infused with this practice forever; I want to travel around the world practicing and serving at different centres, I want to do Pali workshops, I want to go on pilgrimages, everything."

Above made me smile because this was exactly how I felt. Had very powerful experiences with Goenka technique and got super enthused about pursuing it more seriously. Then life happened and I drifted for two decades with intermittent episodes of deep delving into meditation and periods of relapse.

Due to finance and time Pali workshops were not affordable for me.  It didn't stop me from getting Pali language resources for home learning. My motivation for learning Pali was to get a first hand taster of the tipitaka rather then relying on others translations. Didn't want that dependency on others. To be spoon fed what others deemed to be the correct taste. Also because some people had stressed that reading the Pali texts yourself gives you a personal connection with the dhamma and Buddha. So, very inspirational even if it does sound a bit too sentimental. Of course once you start getting established in meditation (patipatti = practical aspect of dhamma ) you naturally want to balance it with theoretical appreciation ( Pariyatti = theory). You develop a thirst for an intellectual perspective on dhamma. Of course in tandem with meditation practice otherwise it becomes a game of intellectual entertainments, obsessions with futile conjectures and endless debates not conducive to a spiritual path. Balance your patipatti with your Pariyatti just don't go batty :D

When you practice properly you develop this deep sense of gratitude to the Buddha and naturally you feel a need to go on a pilgrimage to all the significant places related to his life. You want to attend them and feel his positive vibes. To get an inspirational boost. To me this is not clinging but a positive drive to keep you motivated to continue with daily practice. To build up confidence in what you practice.

Dhamma service at centres is hugely beneficial. As a play on the old adage goes: 'give a woman a fish for a day and you feed her once. Teach her to fish and you feed her for the rest of her life.' in a similar vein by giving dhamma service at a centre you provide the supportive means and environment for someone to develop the toolset and skills  (meditation) to help themselves for the rest of their life. The best form of charity you can possibly give someone - the empowerment to take control of their own peace and happiness. Stable and happy citizens become assets to society.  At the same time you learn to be tolerant of other servers that might annoy you and develop some compassion, humility, lose some of that ego. You also learn to perform your dhamma service with awareness in an environment conducive to spiritual growth without the daily interruptions of a householders life. Battery all recharged to put dhamma into practice when you get back home. Better prepared to help others in daily life because you've learnt to help yourself first. How can someone unable to help themselves effectively help another? In dhamma service at centres your learning to live with others in harmony so that you can apply what you've learnt back at home. Harmony cultivated within leads to an outpouring of harmony with others. You have to learn to do it in a safe space first. Practice makes perfect?


You can still pursue all these things. Just tone it down. Drop a gear and go at a pace that allows you to engage in dhamma and in your relationship. It doesn't have to be either / or. You can have your cake and eat it. You just have to learn to eat it more slowly and share the slices with your significant other :)

In  an ideal world, having a partner who shares your particular brand of meditation is greatly beneficial. Less conflicts. The opportunity to do one day or more self courses at home. Someone to confide with and discuss intimate matters relating to your daily practice without feeling you'll be misunderstood. You get to have your own daily mini-group sittings at home in addition to a local group sitting (metta bhavana given and received will help to recharge your and others batteries). Any practice related dietary or lifestyle choices will incur less incompatibilities. The list goes on...

In the real world, its a new relationship. Do you know your partner well enough? Have you actually devoted enough time to your relationship to appraise it accurately? At the moment your happy. See how it shapes up over time. Give it a fair chance. Being in a relationship with someone who doesn't share your brand of meditation allows you test your progress on the path. Are you being equanimous and fair in your relationship? Are you able to deal with conflicts constructively? Are you being reasonable? This is the litmus test on deciding how well your progressing in dhamma with regards to your relationship.

With metta.


Pilgrimage Books
Middle Land Middle Way. A Pilgrim's Guide to the Buddha's India by Ven. S. Dhammika. ISBN 955-24-0197-6

Pali Books ( )
Pali Primer by Lily de Silva. Published by Vipassanan Research Institute. ISBN 81-7414-014-X

Key To Pali Primer by Lily de Silva. Published by Vipassanan Research Institute. ISBN 81-7414-198-7

A Pali workbook Published by Vipassanan Research Institute ISBN 1-928706-04-5


  • stillpointdancer
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    • Insight meditation
    • Exploring the results of 30 years of meditating
Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2019, 11:20:32 AM »
I often think that going into a relationship with a developed meditation practice has fewer problems associated with meditation and a spiritual practice than being in a long term relationship and then taking it up. Of course, we all change all the time, so there's no telling what might happen anyway, whether you are on the path or not.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: Relationships and the Spiritual Path
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 03:56:19 AM »
After attending Goenka retreats, I myself have felt drawn to the idea of doing a lot of retreats and learning Pali and that sort of thing. At one retreat, I met a young man, who had lost his job during a downturn and was now retreat-hopping. He would show up at retreats and they would let him sit even when he hadn't registered. I felt a bit disturbed when I heard him say it - I stopped myself from saying that he ought to use the time to prep for interviewing and stuff. What do I know?! I'm just as stupid as anybody else. Maybe attending a long string of retreats would sort things out in his head. Maybe attending retreats all the time is the right thing to do.

It's just that everybody needs to sort things out themselves.

For instance, Jess, is it possible for you to lessen your workload at uni? Can you simplify your life so it becomes less overwhelming? Can you do something else to bring some degree of calmness? Exercise? shorter commute? 30 minutes extra sleep? Things of a practical nature can sometimes make a big difference.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 04:08:48 AM by dharma bum »
Mostly ignorant


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