Robert Augustus Masters and Diane Bardwell Masters speak with Ken Wilber about the next evolution of intimate relationships: monogamy as a spiritual path, a crucible for awakening, and a vessel for enlightenment in the 21st century.
Relationships. You would think that we would have figured it out by now. It’s one of those funny things about being human: you are almost always surrounded by other humans who, at least on the surface, appear to share many similar qualities as you do—the same basic physiology, the same basic emotional spectrum, the same basic wants and needs and fears. We have been relating to one another for eons, and yet this still remains as much a mystery today as ever before—at least to most of us.
As self-proclaimed post-conventional people, we often struggle to create post-conventional relationships. For some, post-conventional relationships are an opportunity to re-imagine the parameters of relationship itself, which often means turning to things like polyamory as a new way of relating—viewing crusty old monogamy as an outdated relic that does not necessarily expand or deepen our love, but restricts it. However, things like polyamory can often seem to increase the span of our love, and not necessarily the depth of our love—which is completely fine in and of itself, but can be exceptionally difficult or even dangerous if we confuse one for the other. What’s really needed is not so much a new model for relationships beyond monogamy, but a way to upgrade our idea of monogamy to meet the needs of today’s integrally-informed couples.
It’s not like this has never happened before. Our concept of monogamy has grown a great deal over the millennia, beginning with the primal biological imperative to maximize reproductive success in early societies; to the arranged exchange of properties, titles, and rights of inheritance in feudal societies; to the sacraments and covenants granted to marriage by religious societies; to the modern idea of monogamy as an expression of romantic love that began to emerge en masse during the Renaissance, all the way to today’s debates about expanding culture’s understanding of monogamy and marriage to include homosexual couples. Which brings us to this next crucial step in the evolution of monogamy: committed relationships as a path to awakening.
For integral couples, monogamy is so much more than a means to procreate, a way to meet our needs for physical and emotional security, or even a way to celebrate our intimacy and mutual love. Of course, all of this is certainly included in our relationships, but now we have a new possibility available to us: monogamy can be a spiritual path unto itself; a crucible for self-awareness, self-transcendence, and embodied practice; and a powerful vessel for enlightenment in the 21st century.
Text by Corey W. deVos
Images #2 and #3 by Mark Henson
About Transformation Through Intimacy: The Journey Toward Mature Monogamy
Intimate relationship has long been viewed and lived as a lesser alternative to spiritual life. More recently, the need to integrate our spiritual and intimate lives, rather than maintaining separate spheres and relationships on autopilot, has become increasingly apparent. Given the high rates of infidelity and divorce, it would seem that the possibilities of freedom through intimacy have not been explored in much depth. Too often we pull away when relationships become difficult, missing out on the rewards of connecting more profoundly.
The passage from immature to mature monogamy is not only a journey of ripening intimacy with a partner, but also a journey into and through zones of ourselves that may be very difficult to accept and integrate with the rest of our being. Transformation through Intimacy explores intimate relationships through a four-stage lens: me-centered, we-centered codependent, we-centered coindependent, and being-centered. Bringing his many years of experience as a psychotherapist and spiritual practitioner to the subject, Masters shows readers not only how to navigate the thickets of reactivity, conflict, shame, anger, fear, and doubt, but how to understand them in a new light so that a deeper level of relating to oneself and one’s partner becomes possible, opening new levels of trust, commitment, and love.
“This is an important and tremendously useful book, packed with wisdom and insight. Highly recommended!” –Ken Wilber, author of Integral Spirituality
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About Robert Masters
Robert Augustus Masters, PhD, is a relationship expert, a spiritual teacher, and a psychospiritual guide, with a doctorate in psychology. He is the cofounder, with his wife Diane, of the Masters Center for Transformation (MCT), a school featuring relationally-rooted psychospiritual work devoted to deep healing and fully embodied awakening. A substantial portion of his work involves training MCT practitioners. He is also the author of thirteen books, including Transformation Through Intimacy and Spiritual Bypassing.
About Diane Bardwell Masters
Diane Bardwell Masters is an intuitive healer, relationship expert, and highly skilled psychotherapist, as well as a longtime songwriter and professional singer. She brings great heart and insight to the work she shares with her husband, Robert Augustus Masters.
About Ken Wilber
Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.