SHAMANS AND RELATIONSIn many cultures around the world, the Spiritual Seeker is celibate – and that’s a wonderful way of avoiding the complexity and complications of relationships.

The shaman understands that we are attracted to those people that we have to learn with and learn through. Most of our early relationships are deeply karmic. We are looking for that person who can help us heal our wounds, who can help us find ourselves. And, of course, we can never do that through the Other. The Other only serves as a mirror for what it is that we need to heal.

A friend of mine who is getting divorced recently told me: “I miss the woman that I married, but I don’t miss at all the woman I’m divorcing.” And that’s because she became such a clear mirror for him of what he needed to do to heal himself. I told him, “You have to stop looking for the right partner, and instead work on becoming the right partner.”

When we understand that marriage is the arena where we can go to meet Spirit face-to-face, and when we practice deep gratitude for all of those difficult lessons that our partner is offering us, then we can truly evolve our relationship. But if we insist on making the Other wrong, then we are only going to dig ourselves deeper into our hole. Our task is not to look for someone who is going to be more like us, but to find the person that we can commit to a healing journey with.

When you think you have found that person, go through a courtship process like the one I did with my wife, Marcela. Examine the seven chakras on the body and make a commitment at the level of each chakra.

At the first chakra: How are you going to help each other with your survival needs, your basic identity needs, and are you going to commit to each other in meeting your most fundamental needs? This is where you will learn if you have the foundation to keep building. Do you feel safe? Can you disclose yourself, who you really are, and not who you want others to see you as? Can you trust this person to not hurt you if you show your soft underbelly? This is what it’s all about, and you have to be willing to reveal yourself, and to talk about it – which can be scary and painful.

At the second chakra: How are you going to embrace the Other for who he/she is – and all the gifts, blessings and curses? Are you willing to receive them and embrace them and commit to help the Other discover the fullness of their being?

At the third chakra: How can you acknowledge, respect and contribute to each other’s power and expression in the world without feeling threatened by it?

At the fourth chakra, the heart: How can you dedicate yourselves to practicing unconditional love – and by that I mean love that is not conditioned by our upbringing, by mommy and daddy. Unconditioned love is based on honoring the Other.

At the fifth chakra: How can you respect each other’s voice? Can you make a commitment to hear the Other deeply, to be a good listener, to be a careful witness to your partner and invite their voice to be developed to its fullest, versus a hidden whisper for fear of offending.

At the sixth chakra: How can you support each other’s vision of your journey in the world?

At the seventh chakra: How can you have a joint spiritual practice?

You must go through the seven levels of deep commitment that are required for a fulfilling relationship, because if you have only six – say that at your second chakra, your sense of self, you don’t feel you are being received or respected by your partner – it’s not going to work. If you do the work at each of these levels, then you can grow the kind of relationship that can thrive, even in the most challenging of times.

Many of us start out hoping we have found the most perfect partner out there … and that lasts for about two weeks (or if you really stretch it, maybe two months). But we can become the right partner by going through this series of initiations.