As humans (manavas) we have the ability to think and imagine with our mind (manas). Our mind gives us the ability to govern our instinct and co-exist peacefully with our fellow-beings. But most of all, our mind (imagination) gives us a separate sense of identity, also known as the ego or the ahamkara.
This sense of separateness makes us seek our fellow humans to complete us by satisfying our various needs. These needs can broadly be classified as – social, cultural, emotional, physical, financial, psychological and spiritual needs. And so, we forge various relationships in our life to quench these needs of ours. Our ego, however, remains indifferent to any association that does not fulfil these needs. And it is this fear of being insignificant to the world that makes us extend ourselves and form relationships.
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However, different relationships and associations bring out different responses out of us which are dependent on our need and our relation to the subject. While some relationships are clearly defined by duties and obligations, such as parent-child, husband-wife, employer-employee to name a few, others tend to be ambiguous in their code of conduct.
The code of conduct varies depending on our need, which in turn decides the dynamics of the relationships. A relationship flourishes as long as there is a balance between ‘give and take’ – whether the exchange is tangible (material) or intangible (emotional) in nature is irrelevant. However, when there is a tilt in the relationship, the ego turns indifferent to it and the relationship dies a slow or a sudden death.
In most cases when the relationship turns sour, we like to believe that we were the magnanimous ones who gave more than we received. But in truth, in any given relationship, except perhaps the one defined by duties and obligations we overextend ourselves because it was our need of that moment.
In hindsight, we might think otherwise but at that point of time in our life, our act of giving stemmed out of our obvious need or perhaps an expectant need – a hidden agenda of sorts. We react grudgingly because we love the drama of playing the exploited victim or the generous hero.
This reaction stems out of our ego. The ego likes to feel good about itself in relation to its fellow humans. And it is through its inter-personal relations that it evaluates its self-worth. It needs people as a catalyst to glorify its sense of self either by playing the hero or the victim. As long as we operate with our ego, even our acts of charity or relationships of conveniences are laced with our sense of greatness.
True relationships are formed when one goes beyond the ego. When we transcend our ego our relationships are not based on calculations. We find joy in the very process of giving, of extending ourselves. And this ability to restore faith in humanity is after all the human privilege and the core of all relationships.