Relationships are the most natural thing there is, because there are no real separations.

Advaita Post, Volume 09, Number 14 

You think: ‘Time for a pit stop”, but it’s the final destination.


The text below is the first half of an interview in InZicht Magazine about the nature of relationships and their practical aspects.


Interview InZicht 10. No. 3 (September 2008) with Douwe Tiemersma by Pia de Blok –

Relationships, Part 1

InZicht: Almost everyone is looking for a relationship in which the experience of unity is one hundred percent. But that seems to rarely or never happen.

Douwe: Yes, everybody is looking for complete unity. Apparently there is a lack and a feeling that this lack must be filled. When some bit of that unity is experienced, there is joy. People seek the infinite joyful unity.

The problem is that people want unity, but don’t want to surrender themselves to it. They want unity, without losing their own personal structure. They want complete love, but then they immediately restrict it. By definition, that can’t be and it creates a great conflict. That’s the tragedy of people.

Loneliness. Isn’t that the essence of the primary need for a relationship?

Loneliness is about being separated. People try to resolve the problem of loneliness by coming into contact with others. That’s the correct way. Then there is an expansion of the individual sphere, an overlap with that of the others.

But it’s clear: when the sense of separation doesn’t completely disappear, loneliness remains. Merging with others occurs only up to a certain point. People are defined as social beings, they are in-relationship. But the tragedy is created through this definition. ‘Relationship’ is always a connection between two separated unities. They have a certain connection, but the lack of unity remains. This loss is seen as a general human condition and so it’s incorporated into philosophy. “You have to have a partial separation because otherwise the human condition disappears.”

In the previous proposition, the difference between levels wasn’t recognized. Unity should be able to exist at the level of the ‘I’ person and yet it doesn’t seem possible. So there is separation, next to a little bit of unity. But unity always already exists at the level of the being-self-being and that unity isn’t harmed by the dualistic experience of the ‘I’-person. Rather, that (‘I’-person) position is merely a reflection from a limited and fragmented perspective, from a limited and fragmented self-being. Returning to your own self-being brings a completely open perspective, within which there are no separations with others anymore. Those view points shouldn’t be mixed with one another, otherwise there is confusion and suffering.

Desire for unity

Can dependency be a problem in a teacher/pupil relationship, in male/female relationships and friendships? When someone hangs on too long to what do you say to him or her?

Dependency limits your self-being even further than it already is on the ego-level. It offers up a bit of your ego-self over to another ego. Of course they are projections but in experience they work restrictively.

There’s frequently a resistance to dependence and a search for or defense of independence and that’s good. In the area of personal relationships there should already be an autonomy of the individuals involved, for good relationships can emerge only from in-dependence. Through growing up a child must become a confident individual first otherwise an unconscious symbiosis and dependence remains.

On the level of consciousness, it can become clear that self awareness is always independent, irrespective of who or what.  When independence is sought on the level of the limited individual through an increase in assertiveness there are problems, which disappear through a return to self-being.

Referring to the self-being will always be the instruction of a good teacher. Of course, he can do nothing other than begin from an existing situation. When a bit of dependence remains in the pupil, the teacher will show him where real independence and unity lies.

These beginning questions are very fundamental. They are questions about relationships on the everyday human level. On the one hand people want to be independent and on the other there is an absence of and desire for unity. That’s where the dependence comes in. But as one returns to one’s self, it’s clear that the infinite desire relates to the always already present being-self-being that’s not constrained by the separations which seem to exist on the practical level.

In relationships that end, one of the parties may sometimes withdraw from the other. You often see that then the other continues to hold on. That’s constricting for both.

You can see it very practically. It has a constricting function, so it’s not wise. But in a larger sense it is understandable, because the desire for the more expansive sphere that was experienced when the relationship was good still remains. That’s the desire for unity.

It would be great if the other person recognized it too.

That’s the point. People with relationship problems have to work with both the practical and the fundamental situation. The real solution can only come from the highest perspective. The relationship problem is only resolved through a fundamental insight into non-duality, however the situation may develop.


Communications. Sometimes it’s better not to discuss things, because frequently it all resolves itself anyway. On the other hand, frustrations that have been withheld for a long time can explode like a bomb. So: talk or not?

This is a practical question. When you let yourself be guided by a loving attitude, then in practice you will find the form that best suits a particular situation. The best is when as much clarity as possible arises without ending the relationship. Then, of course it’s good sometimes for something to be said.

But then the one who speaks  appears to be “happy in his own skin”.

You often see that there isn’t a loving attitude and then heads bump against one another. In a particular situation you must remain very alert to see what is possible and what is not possible.

People seem to seek out limits in a relationship.

That has to do with the search for true unity and the real desire for that experience. And yes, if they search for it on the level of the ‘I’- person, then limits will be experienced.

Why do people have relationships?

On the level of duality you have both the feeling of separation and the desire for it to be lifted. You can also view it from the experience of non-duality and then you say “Yes, of course, it’s the most natural thing that is. There are no separations.”

Is it very important that the levels aren’t mixed up with one another?

Yes, that’s the core issue that emerges in all these problems which arise.

Jealousy is often present in a relationship.

When you find that the experienced unity is reduced because the other person extends his sphere towards another person, such as with a hug, then you feel yourself to be outside of that and so you experience your own sphere to be limited. Then you feel the separation, the loneliness and the dependency more strongly. That creates jealousy.

Isn’t it also a competitive struggle? Everyone can go but you have to stay? Or fear everyone can stay and you have to go?

There is that authentic desire for unity even from the “I”-position. From the “I”-position it is interpreted as “I have my interests and I would like to expand them, I also would like to have the space of the other.” When someone else arrives who the other also finds to be attractive, you get an immediate conflict: “The expansion which I wanted is now restricted.”

A kind of territory.

Exactly. Naturally, you have your own existence as a living-sphere. Energetic, feeling-sense, and that can be very limited. In a relationship with someone else you receive an increase of that sphere and that is perceived as very positive. The other can also experience that and then you feel: together we have a much more expansive sphere, within which we can be more relaxed than in that separated individual sphere. Therefore people look for relationships from out of their own loneliness. That is a whole dynamic and you can see it on the energetic and spatial levels. Energy is expanding, contracting, cutting back, separating and healing.

All expansion brings joy and everyone finds it beautiful. A throwback to a limited self-being is experienced negatively. So you get the whole dynamic there when a third person enters the game and your territory becomes even more limited.

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