10 July 2011
Relationship as Alchemy
When we fall in love, this usually ushers in a special period, one with its own distinctive glow and magic. Glimpsing
another person’s beauty and feeling, our heart opening in response provides a taste of absolute love, a pure blend of openness and warmth. This being-to-being connection reveals the pure gold at the heart of our nature, qualities like
beauty, delight, awe, deep passion and kindness, generosity, tenderness, and joy.
Yet opening to another also flushes to the surface all kinds of conditioned patterns and obstacles that tend to shut this connection down: our deepest wounds, our grasping and desperation, our worst fears, our mistrust, our rawest emotional trigger points. As a relationship develops, we often find that we don’t have full access to the gold of our nature, for it remains embedded in the core of our conditioned patterns. And so we continually fall from grace.
It’s important to recognize that all the emotional and psychological wounding we carry with us from the past is relational
in nature: it has to do with not feeling fully loved. And it happened in our earliest relationships—with our caretakers—
when our brain and body were totally soft and impressionable. As a result, the ego’s relational patterns largely developed as protection schemes to insulate us from the vulnerable openness that love entails. In relationship the ego acts as a survival mechanism for getting needs met while fending off the threat of being hurt, manipulated, controlled, rejected, or abandoned in ways we were as a child. This is normal and totally understandable. Yet if it’s the main tenor of a relationship, it keeps us locked in complex strategies of defensiveness and control that undermine the possibility of
Thus to gain greater access to the gold of our nature in relationship, a certain alchemy is required: the refining of
our conditioned defensive patterns. The good news is that this alchemy generated between two people also furthers a
larger alchemy within them. The opportunity here is to join and integrate the twin poles of human existence: heaven,
the vast space of perfect, unconditional openness, and earth, our imperfect, limited human form, shaped by worldly
causes and conditions. As the defensive/controlling ego cooks and melts down in the heat of love’s influence,
a beautiful evolutionary development starts to emerge—the genuine person, who embodies a quality of very human
relational presence that is transparent to open-hearted being, right in the midst of the dense confines of worldly