The aim of Buddhist practice; What is a relationship? Three types of relationship: 1) mutual benefit, 2) shared aim, 3) emotional connection; What’s possible in a relationship? What gets in the way — or how projections arise in relation to the Three Marks of Existence (impermanence, suffering, and no self); How relationships are undermined by disagreement or lack of clarity about their basis; How we can become awake in relationships.
What can we actually know in a relationship? The story of Nasrudin, the smuggler and the customs agent; The world of shared experience and the world of individual experience; The Four Steps of Standing Up in a Relationship: 1) Stand up — actually be there, 2) Open to what is happening, 3) Serve what is true to the limit of your perception, 4) Receive the result; Useful tools for being awake in relationships: deep listening, four questions for opening up difficult situations, the rule of three, returning confusion to its source and not picking up what isn’t yours.
Conflict as the experience of resistance to change when two or more worlds interact; Locating the resistance; The inevitability of conflict and how to engage in it skillfully; The Four Stages of Conflict (from Vajrayana Buddhism) — pacification, enrichment, magnetisation and destruction; How to be awake in conflict using the same tools as for being awake in relationships and by remembering the Three Marks of Existence.
The Four Immeasurables as higher emotions not based on a sense of self, and their transformative quality; The Four Immeasurables in the context of relationship and conflict and the ways these manifest in relationships; How equanimity manifests as judgement at the base level, up through impartiality, aloofness or detachment, and patience to full acceptance with no sense of judgement; The two aspects of true equanimity; How loving-kindness manifests as attraction or sexual desire at the base level, up through affection and caring to the selfless wish that others be happy; How compassion manifests as pity at the base level up through sympathy, fearlessness to be with another person’s pain to the genuine wish that they not suffer; The complexity and richness of compassion; Joy as competition or paranoia at the base level, up through elation or delight to joy in being and knowing what needs to be done and just doing it. Loving kindness and compassion as the appropriate efforts in intimate relationships; The shared aim relationship with a spiritual teacher; A summary of conflict as resistance to change demanded by the third world created when two people interact.