In my Jyotish practice I get asked about relationships all the time because certainly it is something that everyone wants and what would life be without them in their various forms; husband/wife, brother/sister, parent/child, or business partners. But more often than not the questions are about marriage relationships.
A Jyotish chart is organized with 12 houses, each with their own meaning. The essence of “you” is contained in the 1st house….and exactly opposite that is the 7th house of the “partner”.
This partner can be anyone with whom you have a long lasting relationship; it could be a marriage partner or it could be a business partner. In either case it is the “other”….opposite to ourselves. The planets that influence those points will give a clue as to the nature of your relationship experience. Good, well disposed planets suggest harmony and malefic planets suggest that relationship will take more work. A combination of benefic and malefic influences will be complex…as is life itself.
Does it mean that we are to be denied an enjoyable relationship if we have malefic planets associated with the 7th house? Not at all. More often it means that there are lessons to be learned within the context of a relationship.
In the end, the universe has to be based on a balance of action and reaction, but more importantly, the universe is a place to learn and the purpose of karma is to teach, not punish. Ultimately it is difficult to imagine a way that we could learn the lessons we need to learn, without being able to have relationships. We learn by interacting with others.
Modern Buddhist teachings offer a related, but distinctly different perspective from the vedic tradition. In this case it comes from the book “No Time to Lose” by Pema Chodron. This quote is from her commentary on Shantideva’s Bodhi Charyavatara and it is full of great insight and humor. This text was written in the 8th century, generally the same time period as Adi Shankaracharya.
With regard to relationships, he hints at the nature of karma when he says,
“It was I in the past
who did harm to beings such as these
And so, when others do me mischief
it is only just that they should injure me…
If I repay them harm for harm
indeed they’ll not be saved thereby.”
So in one sense I think that we all have to serve out our karmas…developing patience and absorbing all the “stuff” that seems to come to us in a relationship. It is only what we have created coming back to us.
If you are reading this blog and participating in yagyas, then certainly on some level your soul has decided that enough is enough and it is time to solve this puzzle and undo the bondage of karma. Ultimately we understand intuitively that there is no lasting satisfaction to be found in the “real” world.
So we set about to work on our karmas. And according to the vedas, our store of karmas can be dissolved through meditation, personal pujas, mantra japa, and most powerfully, yagyas. If we are making so much effort, is it realistic to expect that we will wake up one day and everything will be just wonderfully and magically perfect?
When we don’t get what we “want” (relationship, money, success) it is very easy to get frustrated but….it can also be the universe telling us not to settle for too little; not to settle for less than the infinite peace and satisfaction of Brahman. We do our spiritual practices and then go about our day to day lives, doing the best we can and little by little life gets better; our consciousness expands, there is more built in contentment, and we “need” less from the outside world. That, in turn changes our relationship to the world and the things we do and want.
Traditionally that is called detachment. But I think that the deeper sense of the word if often times missed in that this is not a mood, or attitude. What would happen if you had radiating from within a source of satisfaction and happiness? Consider how that would change your relationship with everything else in the world. What would you need and what could you give? The point that gets missed is that in order to develop that inner independence we have to detach ourselves from the habitual clinging to the outside world and its varied sources of pleasure.
Oddly enough it reminds me of saying to my children, “Turn off the TV when you are doing your homework!”. I have to detach them from TV so they can focus on the task at hand. Like that, the malefic planets like Saturn and Rahu/Ketu detach us from our connections to the outside world so that we can focus on the spiritual growth that will be ultimately fulfilling and liberating. But like my kids who complained when the TV was turned off, we don’t necessarily like it at the moment it is happening.