Why do we in the West have problems with our relationships so often?

Lama Ole’s answer:

It’s true; problems in relationships appear often and divorce rates are high. There are many reasons for this. In former times, public social welfare didn’t exist, so one had to rely on the extended family and had to stick together. There was no professional training for women either, and quite often they weren’t allowed to have their own wealth. That’s why a woman without a family couldn’t live on her own, and couples who hated each other stayed together anyway. Today, the state steps in, freedom has increased, and people are no longer economically dependent on one another.

However, this newly gained freedom brings disadvantages as well. If we change partners, we often experience the same difficulties we had with the former partner simply because it’s our own personal disturbances that come up each time. We should have dissolved them the first time.

Moreover, consumerism is widespread these days. For instance, cars and clothes are consciously made in such a way that they quickly go out of vogue. We want to have something else in only a couple of years. Unlike in the past, manufactured things today do not last very long and fall apart much sooner. When things can be replaced more easily, I think people consider replacing human beings and partners more frequently too.

A real weakness in today’s partnerships is the attitude of expectation and the thought of “What can I get?” It is better to think, “What can I give?” Space is limitless and those who give will always grow richer. The water stays fresh if it is always replenished from the well. In contrast, those who only take and safeguard what they have will grow ever poorer. If they look down into their well, there is nothing but five dead frogs.

Whenever you tell me that you always have to give so much, I tell you to be happy and to give even more: show your greatness, be boundless, and never expect anything in return. What really counts is to be spontaneous and effortless. Enlightenment is nothing else but to stop hoping, fearing, and wanting.

The moment our mind is spontaneous and effortless, resting in itself without expectation or fear, everything shows itself. It is like a cup of coffee: at first it appears murky, but when the cup is no longer shaking, we can see through to the bottom.

Here’s another good example that may sound a bit cliché—may the ladies forgive me—but that’s why you won’t forget it either. Reaching enlightenment is like trying to get to know a beautiful woman. If you run after her, she will call the police, but if you park your BMW at her front door and leave your checkbook on the car roof, she is going to come on her own. It is just like this with enlightenment: if you run after it, you will not reach it, but if you relax in the here and now, then things will come by themselves.