Sunday Service: How to Cope When Your Partner is Far Away

What to Do When Your Partner is Far Away

Week of March 2 – 8, 2014

We live in a globalized world, one where it is easier than ever to communicate with people who live in another state or even another country. These trends mean that we increasingly run across situations where friends and family are not geographically near us.

Whether these friends and family have always lived far away, or we temporarily are pulled away from those we love, the challenge is the same: How do we cope with the distance? How do we survive being so far away from those we want near us?

There are many answers to the question, and technology can help; it has never been easier to communicate across vast distances. With Skype or FaceTime we can video chat, with email and calls we can continue having regular contact with these people who are far away.

If we love these people who are at a distance, however, technology does not help enough. We yearn for those we love, and we are sad when they are not near us.

The only real solution comes from changing how we view the situation. We can’t bring these people near us in a physical way, but we can discover that distance is not as wide as we think. Through Vedanta and other spiritual traditions, we can reduce or eliminate the sense of loss even if we cannot change the physical location of those we love.

This week we bring you a short talk about how you can shift perspective and stop feeling the pangs of loss from distance. The talk only outlines the solution; putting it into practice is the real trick. But hopefully the talk will at least point the way.

Peter Kowalke


PeterThis Week’s Spiritual Talk

When Your Partner is Far Away

Question: My partner lives in another state, and I’m always sick with longing for her. I miss her so much, I am always sad. How do I deal with this sadness? You never get sad, although I know there are people you love who are far away.

Peter’s answer:

I get sad like anybody else. I just hopefully get sad less, and it doesn’t have the same power when I do get sad. The yogi, or spiritually-focused person, feels the same pain as the materialist. The yogi just doesn’t mind the pain like the materialist; the yogi is focused on God instead of the pain.

Such is what I do or try to do. But I still experience the same physical sensations and many of the emotional sensations such as missing someone or dashed expectations. (A fully enlightened person in constant contact with God will not suffer from emotions like sadness. Few of us are truly that far along the spiritual path, however, so most of us will at least momentarily have emotions such as sadness.)

It would be easy for me to focus singlemindedly on my Dear and get quite sad and depressed that she is halfway across the world. It would be very easy to feel this way. And even now I sometimes feel such things. But usually I turn it away from materialism and maya and that false sense of duality where there is a her and a me—and we are half a world apart. When I yearn for my Dear, I instead find her in my heart and in the world around me. Whenever I forget she is there, which is when I would get sad, I just have to discover her again in myself.

But if I wanted to feel sad, I could feel very sad very easily about not being near her. I would just have to think about her in a materialistic way, not a spiritual way. Then I would be seized by sadness and lust and depression and anxiety and regret and indecision and everything that comes from thinking in terms of duality. It would be very easy to become obsessed about her in a dangerous way if I chose that.

But instead I keep my gaze on nonduality, on her presence in my life and in me in every moment. As long as I hold onto that, she is sweet nectar in every situation and not just when she is there next to me.

This is part of nonattachment as I understand it. It is easy to be overjoyed when my Dear is there by my side–even a dualist will be happy in such moments. But the Advaita Vedantin, the nondualist, can also find his beloved when she is not physically present in a dualistic way.

(read more)


peace is every stepBook of the Month

Peace is Every Step

by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is deceptive in its subtlety. He’ll go on and on with stories about tree-hugging or metaphors involving raw potatoes; he’ll tell you how to eat mindfully, even how to breathe and walk; he’ll suggest looking closely at a flower and to see the sun as your heart. Yet, sooner or later it begins to sink in that Nhat Hanh is conveying a depth of psychology and a world outlook that require nothing less than a complete paradigm shift. Through his cute stories and compassionate admonitions, he gradually builds up to his philosophy of interbeing, the notion that none of us is separate.

(Learn more about the book)

Other books we recommend can be found in our Books section. We also recommend audio lectures and web sites, among other resources.


Spiritual Fitness

Do You have a Spiritual Routine?

Vedanta, if not practical, has no other relevancy. The key to practical Vedanta is an individualized spiritual routine.

There are six components of a good spiritual routine.

Swan1. Find a Community. If you have an existing church, temple or mosque, attend regularly. If not, join our Facebook group and see our list of recommended spiritual organizations.

2. Seek Guidance. Find a mentor within your existing spiritual community or contact us for a referral.

3. Attend Spiritual Services Regularly. If you don’t live near an appropriate spiritual community, we offer a weekly spiritual talk delivered by email, Facebook and Twitter. We also host a regular Vedanta Dinner for those who live in the New York City area.

4. Incorporate Individual Study. We keep a list of books and resources for your individual study needs.

5. Take Responsibility for Your Spiritual Life. Read our talk about listening to your own inner compass and contact us when you have a question that your spiritual community isn’t answering adequately.

6. Leverage Rituals Thoughtfully. As an example, read our essay about the power of saying grace.

Our longer talk about spiritual routine can be found here.

Happy Sunday! Peace be unto you. Peace be unto all.

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