My Relationship with Others: The Three Modalities

My Relationship with Others: The Three Modalities

My Relationships with ‘Others’: breaking it down in 3

  1. Me: Ego
  2. You: Egolessness
  3. Us: Unification

There are three modalities of interpersonal relationships and exchanges between people.

Take for example the act of a person reaching out to help someone else.   

Me: “I am doing you a favor”

You“It’s not about me but about You”

Us “We are all One”


1) Me:

From the first perspective — a self-centered approach to social activism, your ego— when a person helps someone else, doing them a favor for example, both the giver and the receiver are very much aware that the giver is doing a favor for the recipient out of the goodness of their heart. Both the giver and receiver are acutely aware of their separation. The roles of giver as giver and receiver as receiver are unquestioningly maintained. If you walk down the street and blindly drop a dollar into a cup without looking into that person’s eyes or at least smiling, then it is clear that you and the beggar are separate. The resultant message is that you, because of your own generosity, are giving to them.

2) You:

In the second perspective — the Other-Centered approach to social activism — your consciousness is more evolved. When you see someone in need, you really see them — you empathize, sympathize, and feel their pain. And so, when you see someone less fortunate than you, the knee jerk reaction that tells you to “horde your money for yourself” is nullified in that moment. The emphasis is no longer on you, but becomes about the other in need. You put yourself aside for the needs of an ‘other’.

This a more egoless state.

3) Us:

The third perspective is the awareness that we are all expressions of the Creator’s unity and that it is not only about me, or you, but about us. We are all here for a purpose. The fact that you have more and another person has less is by the Creator’s design so that you can learn the art of giving and they can learn the art of receiving — or vice versa. In this way, paradoxically, helping someone else is really helping yourself. When action springs from within this place of unity, you are no longer merely doing someone a favor by giving charity or otherwise helping them out, although of course you are doing that as well; nor are you simply feeling their pain, but truly all existence emerges as inter-dependent. Everyone plays a vital role in the fulfillment of some greater purpose that both transcends and includes all of our personal paths.

On this unitive level of awareness there is no collapsing of individuality and distinction within the infinite Other. Our personal “I” returns as a reflection of the Ultimate I. We are all One, but we are not all the same. The absolute truth of impersonal reality is only valid on the second level of perception, where all is only Infinite Emptiness and No-Thing-Ness. But neither are we totally separate from the rest of creation. That truth is only valid from the lowest perception of the finite ego contained solely in the physical body.

Ultimately, we are all inter-connected individuals. Each one of us is born for both a collective and a specific purpose. We have genetics and spiritual qualities that are the “same”, and we have genetics and spiritual qualities that are “different”. Different is not better or worse, just different.

We would all do well to respectfully celebrate and share our differences, distinctions, and individualities. This must occur not from a place of privilege and hierarchy, but from an active acknowledgment of the universal archetype of uniqueness and individuation coupled with a strong sense of shared destiny.

So from the deepest perspective, all these vantage points are valid and should be valued, for truly we do have an ego, and yet, we are also transcendent of that ego. The harmony between these two apparently divergent perspectives is to recognize that differences do not equal separation. All small ‘i’s’ are expressions of the One Ultimate I of the Creator.

Here there is a transparency of the ego, not an augmentation, as the first modality, nor a nullification of the ego, as the second modality, rather a transparency.

(The above is an Excerpt from Rav DovBer Pinson’s book: The Garden of Paradox.)

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