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How to gain independence in a relationship?
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Question: “Whenever I’ve tried to be independent in a relationship, I end up being indifferent. There is some bitterness. I’m unable to give healthy space. How can one actually feel complete in aloneness?”

Acharya Prashant: You go to a vegetable market. You want vegetables. And there are lots of shops, one after the other. You go to a particular shop. You like the potatoes there. But the fellow is quoting too high a price. Obviously, you are not in love with the potato, you just like them. And potatoes are a commodity. They are here and they are there as well. You like these potatoes. The fellow is quoting too high a price.

Now, only two situations are possible. If the fellow comes down on the price, you get the potatoes and you consume them. And if the fellow quotes too high a price, you walk away with bitterness. In fact, even as you walk away, with a corner of your eye you keep looking back, in the hope that he might call you back, okay fine come back and take. You are looking over your shoulder and cursing him. Why can’t he just drop down a rupee? These are the only two alternatives.

Does anything else happen in a vegetable market? You either consume or you walk away with bitterness. These are the only two ways that we know. These are the only two ways of the lonely mind. And this is the story of the entire world. Everybody, there is no exception. If the other fellow is amenable, agreeable, he gets consumed. And equally, you too get consumed, because it’s a mutual thing. And if he is not agreeable, then there is bitterness. We do not know any third route.

So, Taru’s situation is everybody’s situation. If we give up on consumption, when consumption does not happen, the only option that remains is of bitterness. Either there is consumption or there is bitterness. Now, if consumption is not there, in the sense that one is trying to not to have a relationship, one is trying to be alone in some sense … The question says, “Whenever I have tried to be independent, I end up being indifferent. There is some bitterness. I am unable to give healthy space. How can one actually feel complete in aloneness?” The desires still remain.

You might have decided to not to consume for some reason, the price may be too high, somebody might have taught you that potatoes are not to be consumed on Tuesdays. You might have heard that a great pesticide is doing the rounds. Or, that mighty Satan has infested potatoes, right? Or, that potatoes have become irreligious. Something. But the desire is still there. The desire to consume potato is still there. And when you will not get potatoes, when you want potatoes, the result will be bitterness.

I repeat, when you do not get potatoes even as you want potatoes, the result is bitterness.

You want to give healthy space to the other. You want yourself to be independent. You want the other to be independent. But all of that, or any of that, can never happen in isolation. Fundamentally, it is possible only when the desire to be complete by way of consumption is given up. Now, if the rest of your life is still proceeding on the route of seeking fulfillment through consumption, through relationship, then it will be very difficult to be really free without bitterness in one single isolated case.

In the twenty-four hours of your day, for twenty-three hours you are relating to the world in one particular way, and in one particular hour, you honestly desire to relate in another way. Your desire, your intention might be as honest as it can be. But still, you will not get the results. With hundred people, you are still maintaining the same kind of relationships as you used to, then how can your relationship with one person fundamentally change? You are the same fellow.

To change your relationship with one person, change your relationship with the entire world.

Nothing short of that would suffice. I repeat, if you are really honest about rejuvenating, sanctifying, cleansing your relationship with any one person, you will find that you actually have to change your relationship with the entire world. Short of that, it is not going to be possible. Yes, you can attempt. Yes, you may succeed to an extent. But that success will come with bitterness, and that success will come with limits. Is that clear?

Independence is not something that you can add to your house. Independence is not a piece of crockery. Independence is not some gadget. Independence is not some new curtain. Independence is not another floor added to the house. Independence is not new color of the walls. Independence has to be the center of the house. Independence has to be the center of the house. Independence has to be the very foundation of the house. And if Independence is not the foundation of the house, I repeat, you cannot add Independence to the house. It has to be your God. It has to be your very center. It has to be something that you worship totally, continuously, well…absolutely. Independence is something that you must worship absolutely.

When you are independent here, here, free here, here, and here and here and here and here and here… When I say here here here here here, what do I mean? Everywhere, which is, absolute. When you are absolutely free then obviously you would be free in any individual particular relationship as well. And then there will be no bitterness. Bitterness only indicates frustration of desire. You want something, you do not get it, and you become bitter. The desire exists because the desire is getting nutrition in the twenty-three hours of the day.

Twenty-three hours of the day you keep your dog with you, and the dog keeps licking you, and you keep carrying the dog. One particular designated hour of the day you want the dog to not to come to you. Will that happen? You say this is the holy hour of the day. 5:00am-6:00am every day the dog should be trained to not to come to me, the dog will not understand that. Twenty-three hours a day you have trained him to keep coming to you. Now the dog is in love with you. Greatly attached. He will not respect your pious sentiments. He will not respect your holy hour.

Wanting the absolute, do not try piecemeal arrangements. If you want the absolute give everything that you have, absolutely. Independence is priceless. It is worth all the sacrifice that you can make. Give it all twenty-four hours.

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