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From Dating & Mating … Toward Self-Loyalty

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Relationships become toxic when people who care about each other do not have the courage to honor their own Selves first … before they honor their partner’s preferences.

The Shambhala Master


Shambhala Masters want our students to understand the world and themselves in terms of relationships because life is not a series of unrelated, unpredictable events. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything is interconnected. Every idea has impact on the world around it. Every fear has the power to control or liberate us. Every hope has the ability to inspirit or dishearten us.

Shambhala students must learn how everything is interrelated and how it all relates to them or they will remain remote controlled robots. They will continue to be chemically and historically directed by others who know more about them than they know about themselves. They will be operated by forces that remain hidden and more powerful then them. Shambhala students will not have the ability to align their emotions and behavior with their own Consciously chosen perspectives and priorities. They will not have the option of becoming Self-directed.

To understand the world in terms of how things are interrelated Shambhala Masters teach our students to examine the ways in which they are affected by the social perspectives and biological priorities they have acquired.


Shambhala Masters explore with our students the practical, life-directing effects of the social mandates to secure a person of the opposite sex and to center their lives around this person. Shambhala students learn to observe the everyday ways in which they relate to prince/princessing, as opposed to the picture perfect illusions they have been given of it. Shambhala students then learn how to lay the foundations for new, Core-connective ways of relating to ourselves and others. Students begin to explore the new relationships they can create with others who honor their Selves. And, eventually Shambhala students learn how to adventure into the ways in which they can create communities of individuals committed to Self-celebration.


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Through the ages dating or courting is the primary process by which people attempt to find and secure that “special” person: a person you can center your life around. Dating or courting is a goal-oriented endeavor, one in which the ends always justifies the means. All types of sneaky, devious, shifty, disingenuous, guileful, and underhanded behavior is considered fair game when it comes to securing your “missing half,” (e.g., Misrepresentations (make up, false eye lashes, toupees, plastic surgery, steroids), lying (about one’s age, past marital status, income, personal preferences), pretense (feigning interest, faking sincerity, appearing hurt, acting vulnerable), manipulations (using feminine wiles, seductive body language), leveraging and black mail (threatening to start dating other people, threatening to withdraw ones love, attention and support, threatening to end the relationship, etc.).

Through the ages any amount of scheming, plotting, and planning to trap your “special someone” is accepted and even applauded as creative, industrious, and ingenious. And, since time began, trying to pair people up has been a business and social activity with secretly planned parties, blind dates, and covert actions. Through generations and generations people have been taught to believe that all’s fair in love and war. Finding and securing a prince or princess is as serious as planning a war.

And, if the match and the courting is done “right,” then the prospective partners will hopefully be able to avoid Knowing each other. It is crucial to the success of the dating, courting, mating process that prospective partners avoid Knowing each other at any depth, because familiarity not only breeds contempt, but Knowing one another interferes with the romantic illusions of prince/princessing. Consequently, to create successful pairings people throughout time have followed these dating prerequisites.



There are numerous things that distinguish dating, courting, and mating from Shambhala relationships. In dating, courting, and mating there are roles and scripts which must be strictly observed. If you step outside these roles and scripts the romantic illusions are lost, and consequently, the chemical attraction is sabotaged. It is these romantic illusions that give us the strongest impetus to seek out, secure, and center our lives around another. Especially in these more modern times, these romantic illusions are crucial to pair bonding, for there are few, if any, non-romantic reasons for opposite sex pair bonding. Today, women can and do support themselves. Female survival is not dependent upon securing one “special” man. And, with all the modern conveniences today, men do not need to secure one special woman to tend to his domestic needs. Personal survival no longer requires men and women to bond with each other.

Consequently, dating, courting, and mating have become even more reliant on romantic illusion in direct proportion to the autonomy afforded people today. Therefore, while dating, it becomes more and more important to adhere to the standardized romantic roles and practices. Princesses cannot be too aggressive, competent, intelligent, self-contained, or self-sufficient. Princes cannot be too needy, too available, or emotionally dependent. Neither can wander too far from what is romantically expected.


Another aspect that has always distinguished dating, courting, and mating from Shambhala relationships, is candor. Dating requires diplomacy. Prospective partners cannot be too candid. They have to dance around touchy subjects because too much candor destroys the romantic chemicals. Political side-stepping typifies the non-communication common to dating. Truth and romantic illusion are impossible bedfellows. When the basis of a relationship is romantic illusion the participants, at all costs, must avoid candor and clarity.


Another difference between dating, courting, and mating and Shambhala relationships is that dating requires individuals to invest huge amount of time, energy, and effort in fantasy. Princes and princesses must continually put themselves in the “right” frame of mind. They must work up an expectant attitude. They must fuel the right chemicals to race through their bodies … chemicals that distort or completely block out the stressful realities.


Looking too closely, listening too carefully, asking too many questions, using too much scrutiny, and following up on things said and done that do not make sense brings to light too many issues that spoil the romantic illusion. This also sets dating, courting, and mating apart from Shambhala relationships. Scrutiny dampens the chemical glow of romance. Consequently, perspective partners must keep the conversation light. They must not ask questions that might lead to answers they would rather not know.


Another aspect that has always distinguished dating from Shambhala relationships is that dating is based on chemical attraction, sexuality, courting rituals, romance, marriage, and mating conventions. Take away any one of these ingredients and the potential partnership is placed in jeopardy.


As opposed to romantic pairings, Shambhala relationships are courageously communicative, Self-loyal, Intimately caring, spiritually merging, Core-infusing, and may, from time to time, be romantic and/or sexually Intimate.

One way to tell the difference between prospective romantic partners as opposed to Shambhala relationships is that the former spend time talking about candor rather than being candid. Prospective romantic partners talk about the importance of taking relationship risks rather than placing the relationship at risk by disclosing unflattering information about themselves. Prospective romantic partners talk about the importance of revealing feelings rather than daring to disclose their dips in energy, fears, insecurities, and pain. Prospective romantic partners talk about honesty rather than risking rejection by probing where they may not be welcome and/or being clear about their unpleasant feelings about each other.


Differentiating between dependence and Love is one of the most challenging relationship issues. It is crucial for Shambhala students to know the difference because dependence annihilates Love. Most people grow up in cultures that make little to no distinction between Love and dependence. People are taught that loving others means we need them and they need us. But love, whether it is spelled with a bold capital “L” or a lowercase “l”, has nothing to do with dependence, symbiosis, or mutual need fulfillment.

Dependence is likely to begin when, through your association with someone, you fulfill some of your needs. If you believe that these needs are critical to your well being, then you will be tempted to set aside some of your “less important” needs to make your partner happy or as a gesture of your good will.

These kinds of compromises can place intimate relationships in grave danger. This is the case because people attach so many emotional and romantic expectations to their “close” relationships that they do not keep their needs, agendas, bargains, and compromises clean, clear, and up front. Even the most honest individuals become covert manipulators when “love” enters the picture. Consequently, “close” relationships become riddled with hidden expectations, hopeful, but secret agendas, innocent and not so innocent misrepresentations. These standard practices within “close” relationships erode each individual’s self-regard and fill the relationship with confusion, resentment, distrust, and hidden animosities.

People are taught that they should be willing to set aside their needs for the “love” of another. But, in truth, you are making compromises to secure what you want from each other. You make dozens of these silent contracts every day without being honest with yourselves or each other about what you are setting aside, and what you want in return for what you are giving up.

Through these silent contracts, you, little by little, center you life around your manipulation of your “loved ones” as opposed to centering your life around your Self. The more you center your life around others the more you have invested in controlling them. As you compromise more and more of your Self to secure others, controlling them becomes more and more critical to your well-being. You will begin to live in terror of losing them, for if you do lose them you will have nothing … not your Self or them.

This kind of Self-abandonment for the purpose of securing “loved ones” weaves dangerous webs ensnaring you and your loved ones in a toxic prison.

Shambhala Masters teach our students that dependence is not Love (whether or not it is spelled with a bold capital “L” ). We remind our students that if you are not capable of living without your loved ones, then you are not capable of Loving them. True Love requires you to be willing to put your relationships at risk in the process of honoring your relationship with your Self. Relationships become toxic when people who care about each do not have the courage to honor their own Selves first … before they honor their partner’s perfernces.

Love is not what most mothers, fathers, and lovers think it is. Love is not being consumed by your thoughts and feelings for your beloved. Love is not centering your life around another. Love is not putting a Loved one on a pedestal. Love is not a single minded focus on the beloved.

Shambhala Masters know that Love is a wonderous, multifaceted process. It requires numerous, simultaneous focuses and skills. To be able to truly Love another you must first:

    • Love, Know, and Listen to your Self
    • Be primarily committed to your relationship with your Self
    • Sustain an ongoing, high level of self-observation and self- knowledge
    • Maintain a deep level of caring empathy for your Loved ones
    • Commit to doing what you must do to honor your Self, and, at the same time, know you will be 100% clear with your Loved ones about what you are thinking, doing, and saying
    • Operate out of a deep commitment to candor, especially with your Loved ones
    • Require yourself to align your verbiage with you behavior; be congruent and follow through on what you say you are going to do
    • Find the courage to risk the loss of your Loved ones for your relationship with your Self
    • Develop unfailing trust in the knowledge that if you honor you relationship with your Self first, then everything else will be as it is meant to be

    Relationships between people who care about each other, but can not or do not maintain these focuses and practice these skills, inevitably become so rancid that they die.


    Soon Shambhala student begin asking themselves, “How do I get out of this toxic downward spiral? How do I shift my focus away from controlling others to taking charge of my own life and become responsible for my own well-being? How do I encourage others to control and become responsible for their own selves? How do I not feel threatened and insecure because of what loved ones chose to do for themselves? How do I let go? How can I stop my outdated, primitive emotions from directing my behavior? How can I learn to align my feelings with the Core of myself? How can I become emotionally Self-congruent?”

    These are the questions Shambhala Masters wait to hear from our students. These questions tell us that our students our awakening … becoming Conscious. These questions tell us that our students are beginning to walk a path that will eventually lead them to the most grounded center of their Selves where wonderous discoveries await them.

    The challenge facing Shambhala students is to create Intimate relationships without having to restrict themselves to the conventional models of dating, mating, and relating. Restricting themselves to antiquated, limiting models of relationships is what people have been doing for centuries now. But, Shambhala students make lousy princes and princesses — for numerous reasons. They are uncomfortable with scripts, the role playing, and the superficiality. They are quickly bored by the standard, predictable formats. But more importantly, when Shambhala students minimize their gifts and limit their life experiences through the standardized means of relating to others, an unforgiving emptiness gnaws away at them.

    Complicating things further, when courting is the only game in town, and when Shambhala students participate in these inauthentic rituals, they end up feeling like fish out of water. They feel dishonest. You do not like misrepresenting yourselves — so you participate half-heartedly. Your internal conflict (wanting to fit in versus your need for personal Integrity) paralyzes you. Your heart is not into dating, courtship, and marriage, yet, at the same time, you want Intimacy in your life. Your only recourse is to conclude that there is something terribly wrong with you.

    Yet, just the opposite is the case. There is something terribly right with you! There is something just right with wanting more than scripts, roles, superficiality, romantic illusion, and contracted monogamy. What is amiss is the package you are still trying to fit yourself into. What is amiss is the superficial ways in which you spend your time with others. What is amiss is the way you are chemically attracted to people who will not or cannot add to the quality of your life. Consequently, you end up in the eternal quest for the “right” person. You keep asking yourself, “How can I make myself a better prince (princess) so the right ‘someone’ will desire me, want me, fall in love with me?”

    This is the wrong question! The reason why Shambhala students make a lousy princes and princesses is because you are uncomfortable with these limiting misrepresentations of yourself. You do not like yourself when you are trying to be something you are not! But most important, when you are behaving in ways that cause you to dislike yourself, you will always sabotage yourself and your relationships.

    Instead of asking yourself, “How can I become more desirable to others, the question Shambhala students need to ask is, “How can I redesign, not myself, but the reasons and ways I spend time with others?”


    Redesigning the reasons and ways you spend time with others is pivotal for Shambhala students because, if you spend time with people who dare to honor their Selves, then you will be more able to honor your own Self-loyalty. If you can remain Self-loyal while spending time with others then you will respect yourself. If you can remain Self-loyal while spending time with others you will not be plagued by the gnawing emptiness that accompanies self-disdain. If you can remain Self-loyal while spending time with others you will not continually sabotage your relationships with others. If you can remain Self-loyal while spending time with others you will not find yourself desperately looking for others to love you and validate you.


    Shambhala Masters do not advocate the annihilation of all prince/princessing, romance, or the chemical rushes that accompany both of them. That would be far too absolute. It would be the same black and white thinking that has been handed down from generation to generation, making opposite sex pair bonding your only relationship option. Plus, there is no reason to rob yourself of such sweet, exciting moments. We encourage our students to enjoy the chemical rush of romance, and, at the same time, we caution our students to not allow these moments to become Self-destructive.

    What Shambhala Masters do advocate is that our students learn to shift their focuses from outside themselves (on others) to inside themselves. It is a strange paradox — focusing on your relationship with your Self strengthens your relationships with others. Whereas over-focusing on your relationships with others not only undermines your relationship with your Self, but it also destroys the possibility of Intimacy with others. It is crucially important to note here that focusing on your relationship with your Self (an internal focus) is not the same thing as being egocentric or selfish. The difference between being egocentrically selfish and being internally focused on your relationship with your Self has to do with the issue of control.

    Egocentric people are focused on controlling individuals and situations to satisfy their own (usually short-term) needs, regardless of the (long-term) effects on themselves and others. Egocentrics are short sighted. They fail to see how they jeopardize their long-term needs by attempting to satiate their immediate desires. For egocentrics their world is a chess board and the people in their lives are pawns to be manipulated, leveraged, and moved around. Egocentrics remain largely insensitive to the needs and feelings of others, so that the needs and feelings of others do not interfere with their own needs and feelings.

    Internally focused, non-ego centered individuals, on the other hand, are not interested in controlling others. They are, instead, interested in taking charge of themselves. Internally focused, non-ego centered individuals are invested in learning about and controlling their own behavior. They eagerly encourage the people in their lives to do the same. But most importantly, internally focused, non-ego centered individuals understand the risk of fulfilling their own needs at the expense of others. Internally focused, non-ego centered individuals realize that even if our loved ones willingly set aside their needs for us, then their doing so will eventually take a toll on our relationships with them.

    Consequently, internally focused, non-ego centered individuals honor the needs and personal priorities of others, as long as the needs and priorities of others do not compromise our own Self-loyalty. We invest enormous amounts of time enabling others to clarify their feelings and needs so they will not overlook their own priorities. We also realize that the only way to create Intimacy with others is to first create and maintain an internal focus on Self-Intimacy, and to second let go of our need to control the outcomes of our interactions with others. Instead of trying to control life’s outcomes, we shift our focus from the external to the internal. We nurture, guard, and protect our relationships with others by committing ourselves first to our own Self-loyalty.

    There are numerous guidelines Shambhala Masters use to shift our foci from the external (others) to the internal (Self). Ten of these Self-loyalty guidelines are listed here:


    1) Know Your Priorities

    It is important to prioritize prince/princessing, romance, and chemical rushes firmly behind clarity, communicative candor, personal Integrity, and Intimacy. The prince/princessing, romance, and chemical rushes that survive clarity, communicative candor, personal Integrity, and Intimacy are delightful and healthy. They will add rich and wonderful moments to your relationships. But, keeping your internal priorities clear in a world that only recognizes one legitimate relationship option — opposite sex pair bonding — is not for the faint hearted.

    2) Make The Most Out Of The Now

    Whether you spend time alone or with others, make each experience, right here and right now, Intimate and of the highest Integrity. If you can do this, then you are, moment by moment, assuring yourself of a life filled with high quality, emotionally fulfilling moments. Put enough of these moments together, one after another, and you will never have to look for a “special” someone to make your life worth living.

    3) Read Your Internal Reactions

    How can you make each experience of the highest Integrity and Intimacy? By requiring yourself to monitor, examine, and address every event, issue or interaction that causes any unsettled feelings in your stomach or causes even a slight dip in your energy level. (A) Monitoring these gut reactions is as important as map reading while traveling in a foreign country. It is the only way to keep from getting lost. (B) Examining your gut responses is the only way to become aware of them. Becoming aware of them and (C) revealing these gut responses, no matter how small they might be, and whether or not you have any sense of why you are experiencing them, is the only way to keep your relationships clean. All three processes introduce a refreshing candor that becomes infectious. Monitoring, examining, and revealing your internal reactions opens the door to mutual understanding. These three processes keep relationships alive, clear, clean, vital, inspiriting, challenging, and never boring.

    Unlike the roles and scripts of dating, monitoring, examining, and revealing your gut reactions allows you to know yourself and others better. Knowing yourself and others better helps you to know your Self and the Selves of others. These are important steps toward centering your life around your Self. These beginning steps free you to create high quality, interesting, personally challenging, Intimate experiences with many people rather then searching out and securing one “special” person to center your life around.

    4) Gather Information

    During your first experience, activity, or event with a new person develop a functional, working knowledge of him/her: family history, relationship history, sexual history, fears, hopes, fantasies, etc. You cannot form a practical, working knowledge of someone by politely staying within the socially appropriate conversational zones and never reaching beneath the surface. You cannot Know someone by keeping conversations safe and comfortable. You learn nothing listening to the wishful and whimsy filled tapes people typically recite to each other: “I like my parents, we have a good relationship.” “I had a wonderful childhood.” “I have a good relationship with my ex-wife/husband. We cooperate for the sake of the children.” To Know people you need to ask for and dare to hear the private, uncensored versions of their lives.

    5) Learn to Differentiate

    You have the ability to Love countless people. But not everyone who is worthy of your Love can add to the quality of your life. You cannot afford to overly invest your time, energy, or emotions in people who are resistant to giving you the unabridged picture of themselves, no matter how powerfully you are drawn to them. You must learn to differentiate and become highly suspicious of your draw towards people who want to remain mysterious. Find out everything you can about people: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    6) Ask yourself, “How Much Does This Person Want to Know About Me?”

    Observe how deeply people want to Know you. Do they probe past your short responses to their questions about yourself, or is knowing a little about you more than enough? Remind yourself that people can only Know you to the degree that they are prepared to Know themselves. Getting to Know others in depth furthers your ability to Know your Self. Knowing is Intimacy. Knowing each other allows us to design life experiences that further the quality of our individual and shared lives. Remind yourself that people who are easily sated with your brief, superficial responses about yourself do not want to Know you, and, more important, they do not want to Know themselves. This lack of desire to Know one’s Self is directly related to the degree of responsibility one is willing to accept for their own behavior and general well-being. The less interested one is in accepting self-responsibility the more s/he will hold you responsible for his/her need fulfillment and the more s/he will undermine your attempts to stay internally rather then externally focused.

    7) Throw Out The Hard Pictures

    Decide to keep soft pictures of what could be or what might be. Decide that your future experiences will emerge out of associations that are based on disclosure, candor, clarity, Intimacy, and Integrity. Unlike dating, your interest in knowing others has no underlying, goal oriented destination, agenda, or form. Let go of the pictures of what you hope will happen. Decide that the only purpose for spending Intimate time with others is for both of you to know your Selves and each other better. Any matrix that furthers your Knowing of each other and is mutually Self-enriching may be utilized. Your associations may take on any (frequently changing) shape that emerges and is mutually Self-furthering.

    8) Practice Self-Validation

    Throughout the ages peoples lives, relationships, decisions, and behavior are dependent upon the validation of others, especially upon their loved ones. Consequently, it is difficult to become internally focused and Self-validating. One male Shambhala student experimenting with Self-validation described it this way: “The only thing that made me feel like a man was being with a woman. I had no sense of my masculinity unless a woman was responsive to me. I related to my body only in terms of how my appearance might get me what I wanted with a woman. It’s a whole new world learning to define my maleness without being coupled with a woman. Now I focus on how my body feels to me. How am I treating it? Am I listening to it? What is it telling me about myself? I used to focus on how my body would feel to a woman; now I focus now on how I feel in my body.”

    Instead of looking outward to gain a sense of themselves Shambhala students learn how to look inside to know themselves. By doing so they free others to do the same. Shambhala students then become more to each other than mirrors reflecting each others’ desirability or lack of it. They become partners in their journey towards their Selves.

    9) Practice Supply and Demand

    Supply and demand is not only good business, but it is also necessary to keep an internal focus. Shambhala students learn to gage their extensions to others based upon a demonstrated need for our time, attention, information, and energy. It is easy for most Shambhala students to give more of themselves than others can accept, honor, and/or assimilate. Shambhala students typically have boundless energy and a seemingly endless capacity to Love which leaves them open to feeling rejected when they overwhelm others with the burden of receiving all they have to give.

    By supplying others with no more then what their behavior (not words) indicates they want, you enable yourself to stay internally focused rather than over-extending, setting yourself up for rejection, and becoming dependent on another's ability and/or willingness to receive, delight in, and honor all that you have to give.

    10) Finding a Balance: Personal Bill of Rights

    Becoming partners in our journey towards our Selves requires that Shambhala students must remember that there is a balance to be maintained in our partnerships and everywhere else. Becoming too internally focused causes you to implode into yourself. You can lose touch with the everyday world and the people around you. Eventually, this self-implosion can paralyze you.

    To foster a balance between your external focus on others and your internal focus on your Self, Shambhala Masters have created a Personal Bill Of Rights (Responsibilities) to help our students to find a balance. This Personal Bill Of Rights (Responsibilities) is a statement of recognition that with the right to internally focus on your Self you also have the responsibility to take the necessary action to align your behavior with your Core Integrity.


    1. You have the right (responsibility) to assess your own emotions and needs.
    2. You have the right (responsibility) to differentiate between your acquired vs. your Core emotions and needs.
    3. You have the right (responsibility) to mentally review the short and long-term consequences of acting on your acquired vs. your Core emotions and needs.
    4. You have the right (responsibility) to choose which of your emotions and needs you will bracket and which ones you will act upon.
    5. You have the right (responsibility) to speak openly about your choices.
    6. You have the right (responsibility) to accept the short and long term consequences of your choices.
    7. You have the right (responsibility) to encourage your loved ones to assess their own emotions and needs, differentiate between their sources, speak to, and accept the consequences of their own choices.
    8. You have the right (responsibility) not to compromise your Core emotions and needs to secure your loved ones.
    9. You have the right (responsibility) to take charge of your own life and direct it towards authenticity, Integrity, Intimacy and personal excellence.
    10. You have the right (responsibility) to put your needs for authenticity, Integrity, Intimacy and personal excellence before your desire to secure your relationships with others.

    *The word “Called,” is spelled with a bold capital “C.” The Shambhala Master uses bold capitals when referring to the primal, Core, spiritual essence of a word, as opposed to the conventional understanding of the word. Please consult the Master’s Glossary for the definition of this and other unfamiliar terms.

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