We all come to know about ourselves through our relationship – relationship with people, with other living beings and even with the inanimate things. Bringing in our self-awareness into this aspect of life, we can transform ourselves spiritually.

Human beings who have paid attention to the spirituality beyond all religions see the cleansing power of pure self-awareness and what it does in terms of our relationship to people and to Divinity. Enlightened beings have always emphasized the need to investigate the non-verbal answer to the question as to who and what we are. In the book “Conversations With God” by Neale Donald Walsh, this aspect is brought up time and again by the Divine Voice. Once we are interested in the intuitive awareness related to the above investigation, life moves on to a different path and living acquires great significance. People who have gone some distance in that direction, move away from being slaves to belief systems and no longer depend on such ego-satisfying pathways. They automatically see that it is only by observing oneself in various avenues of relationship that there can be the inner freedom and clarity in perceiving the source of our being non-verbally.

Candid Relationship
Once we begin to be interested in this matter of self awareness, we notice how the habitual neurology creates an image about ourselves based on our physical and mental characteristics. Our relationship to people and other things is then governed by the self-interest of the image who we think we are. This illusion of who we are is behind all unhappiness in life. It is that image which gets hurt or flattered in relationships. The constantly chattering mind is driven by that image. It is also at the base of all judgments made by us. Once we notice this unfortunate proclivity in us, we wake up to the background cause of all problems in relationship. That helps us understand what it means to have candid relationship with people and with everything in life including the relationship with Divinity. In the absence of this – that is, when our relationship is driven by the thought-created image in us – self-centered activity is inevitable to the point of destroying everything sacred in life.

Candid relationship implies an association in which nothing is expected in return and only the joy of the association per se remains. This can be first noticed in our relationship with two to four year old children because their ego is not yet groomed. By observing our state of mind in that relationship, we notice that the joy in such associations is governed by tenderness - a feeling of love in which nothing is expected in return. From there, we are able to bring in the same tenderness in our relationship with the grownups too. That is when we begin to understand the meaning of candid relationship.

In religious practices, the usual tendency is to depend on God for one’s ego-satisfaction and security. That is, the relationship is one of utilitarian value. Thus, even though one may “Praise the Lord”, the whole thing is directed towards getting something from God. Thus, one’s relationship with God is sullied by self-importance and self-centered expectations. Further, this inevitably instills fear in the relationship with God (in a hidden way), because we may do things that can displease God. The dependence on an external authority – be it on a guru or on God - inevitably brings in fear and so candid relationship becomes impossible. We discover this through self-awareness and, hence, the conventional neurology begins to lose its grip on us. The relationship with Divinity becomes spotlessly pure, so no utility value would ever find a place in it.

Pointers from Near Death Experiences
One of the interesting things about the experience of the ‘otherness’ during an near death experience (NDE) is that those who go through it understand this matter of candid relationship with Divinity as well as with all things in life. That is how their relationship with everything is imbued with unqualified compassion and not colored by ego-importance.

The International Association for Near Death Studies (iands.org) sends an episode of NDE to its members through their email. The following excerpt is taken from the IANDS’ August 2013 NDE.

“Forbidden to speak of the encounter, I have kept it to myself all these years although it changed me profoundly. My parents indicated that I became much more compassionate and far less self-centered after this experience. After this, I was able to almost read people's thoughts I became so attuned to others. I still do this.

"I also have very unique and close relationships with animals. I have actually been asked to leave the zoo because all of the animals I passed came over to stand in front of me in their enclosures. Many pressed themselves right up against the bars or glass and tried to touch me. A woman from another family who was there at the same time as me said that I was "hogging" the animals and their attention to myself, and zoo attendants asked me to wait until no one else was present before I approached the animals. As this happened time after time as soon as I entered a zoo building or exhibit they eventually asked me to leave even though I was not doing anything but silently appreciating the animals!!

"Strangers--particularly children--still approach me all the time. People and animals have even followed me home for no discernible reason other than to be with me. I have grown used to this behavior and I no longer question it. I also appear to have a VERY green thumb and plants that florists have declared as dead come to life for me. I just seem to know intuitively what to do.

"As an adult, I was drawn to healing professions and worked for many years in an operating room and other hospital environments. Now I work as an applied anthropologist with adult students whose learning disabilities make post-secondary education difficult. I am frequently told that I have a calming influence on others and that my presence is 'soothing.'

"Since my experience I have also on several occasions been re-visited by animal companions who have passed on, and I now regularly get help from my mother (who has passed on) when I least expect it. I feel as if I am far more open to life/nature and that the boundary between planes of existence is somehow more permeable for me than it was before my encounter. I awoke from my illness (whatever it was) with the certain knowledge that all life is connected, and from that day I have refused to kill anything. I lost my fear of spiders and snakes and I now scoop all insects up and put them somewhere safe when I encounter them. As an adult, I have adopted a Jain philosophy (ahimsa or non-violence) toward life."

The above rendering by the one who went through the NDE tells us something about candid relationship.

Treating people with the image we have of them functions as a serious obstacle to having candid relationship with them. The NDE brings in the awareness that all beings belong to a harmonious whole and in that there is no separation. That experience simultaneously makes it clear that the essence in all beings is immortal and that is how the fear of life and fear of death disappear after a near death experience. These factors augment candid relationship with everything including Divinity. In that ‘Otherness’, sacredness of all manifestations is felt firsthand. Candid relationship is related to sensing the sacredness in the other.

Related matters are handled in the website http://spirituality.yolasite.com

Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan T. Chandrasekaran was born in Madras (now Chennai), India. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978; served on the research and teaching faculty of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India, the North Carolina State University and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait.

Aside from his professional involvements, he was interested in the philosophic issues of life for the last forty years or so. This led him to the messages of Ramana Maharishi, Lao Tzu, J Krishnamurthy, UG Krishnamurthy, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Eckhart Tolle, Marcus Aurelius and similar Masters. His book entitled “In Quest of the Deeper Self” is the outcome of his reflections on those and his wish to share the outcome with others.

Gopalakrishnan is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He lives in Kodaikanal, a hill town in the southern part of India, with his wife Banumathy. Blog: http://nde-thedeeperself.blogspot.com