Our lives are filled with relationships. It's not just the one we love and sleep with. It may be our boss and coworkers. It may be our neighbors and friends. We have relationships with the people we pay for goods and services, and even with strangers on the street. Many have come up with schemes for having felicitous relationships, but one system has withstood the test of time.
Taoists have been thinking and writing about relationships for more than two millennia, and the lonely and confused still seek enlightenment from them. The principles are relatively simple, but for many of us, hard to put into practice. The Taoist master, Chuang Tzu, wrote that he was found on the floor of his kitchen banging on a pot with a wooden spoon by one of his students less than a day after his wife of forty years died. He explained that he felt sad at the loss for an hour and then realized that his wife would want him to be happy, so he found a pot to bang on.
The effects of that level of detachment are profound, but even lesser levels can help with the major pitfall of relationships, namely projection -- assuming we know what someone else means by his or her words and/or actions. As Taoists have also been ardent advocates of balance, they also find it useful to adjust their emotions and expectations so they do not exceed the levels of the person to whom we are relating. In withdrawing from judgment, we can see every revelation as an interesting surprise, no longer "your annoying habits." And we find it harder to exclude anyone around us, which can be a challenge in a crowded city like New York.
This is somewhat a repetition of a talk from last summer, but it will go into a bit more detail, in case you want to attend both. We will meet at the statue and then go somewhere in Riverside Park to talk. It will be a lot of me talking, but I try to let you all talk too. If you arrive more than 5 minutes late, you can call or text me at[masked] to find out where we have settled.