Romantic Fantasy


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This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.'s picture

Being in the agony of a confused, passionate relationship that see saws up and I feel loved, now I don' I love him I close my heart in protection...I wonder what there is to learn about what is happening...

I meditate and find my way back to "center". Things look different, more sane and stable.

Then I get caught again in the emotional turmoil. It feels like being caught in a large wave and dragged and spun around in the undertow.

I wonder what I am not seeing about this...I can see the "faults" in him...but why am I so caught in the drama? It feels serious, real, vital; the longing for love- it is so strong in my heart.

I am done with the cynicism about it. Calling it "fantasy" is dismissive. There is something REAL about it that is compelling.

What is that?

Judith Simmer-Brown's picture

I certainly do not mean to dismiss by using the image of "fantasy." There is definitely something real happening when we fall in love. But what is real is often not what we "think" it is--and that is my point. How do we get beyond the fabricated drama to the real, heartfelt experience of love? How do we recognize how the cultural scripts often get in the way? Do let me know how your experience of the other talks in the series strike you....

jackelope65's picture

I fell in with my wife at17 and married at 18; we have been together 46 years although my ego was a major obstacle initially and meditation allowed us to see the emptiness of the self and the past. We discuss issues, not right or wrong, and this allows us to agree or disagree without animosity. Romantic love is exciting but earthly love( As revealed in Tristan and Isolde ) becomes the lasting quiet but deep love that allows a partner to provide lasting care even when problems are horrific.

Judith Simmer-Brown's picture

This is beautiful--I'm so happy you have been able to discover this yourselves in your lives together. Thanks so much for sharing.

toonteo's picture

Hi Acharia Judith
Although I had very brief romantic love during my adolescents& early youth, before I know dharma(Shambhala Teachings) ,I have found out that after the sweetness of romantic love has gone you have the felt sense of being deceived ,primarily not by the other person but especially you deceive yourself by fantasy & illusion you make for yourself, although the romantic songs & the romantic Hollywood films ( of sixties )also exaggerated this ability of our mind.
As I am living in Iran, I primarily use these transcript for your retreat, except at the first week ,which I have the opportunity to watch the video stream ,in the page 4 transcript for the first week there is mentioned Siuzuki Roshi as your first teacher instead of CTR.I would like just mentioned that as it may cause some misunderstanding; I know both of them were friends and also great teachers
Thank you for nice presentation

Judith Simmer-Brown's picture

How lovely that you are logging in from Iran--welcome. It is so true that the sweetness of romantic love gives way to a sense of betrayal--but probably we are betrayed by our culture, not be ourselves or the other person. Sometimes we vow never to trust again, but our hearts yearn to trust, so we have to find a reliable refuge--which is our own broken heart and the truths of the dharma.
Suzuki Roshi was my first teacher for the first few years of my practice, but I met the Vidyadhara in 1974, and he was my teacher from then until now. I also study with his son and dharma heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and deeply love the Shambhala teachings about warriorship and the tender heart of sadness and joy. Yes, Suzuki Roshi had many students who came to study with the Vidyadhara when Roshi died; many are my friends still. I deeply appreciate the Zen foundation of my practice, but I am now 40 years a Shambhala Buddhist!

KZ's picture

Hi Judith, good to see you and the Boulder shrine room. Didn't know you were such a lovely singer! And yes, even though I was laughing at the 'One' true love description, it is pretty deeply conditioned and hard to shake even when I've certainly had so many "Ones"! Ha. You'd think I would've gotten this decades ago, but still pretty sticky. Love the connection to Christian theology as well. And love the reminder of 'when disappointment dawns, the path begins..." Looking forward to hearing more of these teachings (again) from you. xo Kate

Judith Simmer-Brown's picture

Thanks, Kate--it's lovely to see you here! It's funny how we can practice for years and still believe there is only the One for us, even when we have had serial Ones! Rinpoche was a genius, seeing how we had turned romantic relationships into theism. And his desire was to keep the heart and passion of romantic love while touching the authenticity of disappointment when the theism breaks down. Thanks for joining me this month!

rosemary.franklin's picture

Romantic love is hormones and fancy.

jsimmerbrown's picture

And it's also the mind, emotions, and imagination as well. Not just physical or sexual. The elegance of it is that romantic love involves so many aspects of who we are, don't you think? Is this what you meant by "fancy"?

rosemary.franklin's picture

yes, fancy, as in imagination. hormones, as being held captive by the physical urges and sensations they cause. While not denying the usefulness of this phenomenon, (after all we need to continue the species( (although that is changing isn't it)), when we are charmed the illusions of romantic love, we usually have an awakening. Which may be good for mindfulness. oh well it is a bit complicated.
Nice work with your video. Thank you.

rosemary.franklin's picture

Also it's like that Woody Allen Joke:
The man goes to his psychiatrist and says he is worried because his wife thinks she's a chicken. To which the psychiatrist say: that's simple, just tell her she isn't a chicken. the man answers: I can't, I need the eggs. In short we all need the eggs from time to time. Another inconceivable.

Sarah11.11's picture

Romantic love/fantasy has been at the forefront of my life and mind for a few months now so I'm really looking forward to this retreat. Misunderstandings about love have caused all sorts of suffering for me... guilt, self sacrifice, rage, hate, and emotional coldness/indifference. I've always held this belief that the heart cannot be controlled (don't know where I picked this up), which makes me feel that there is really no hope of controlling my passions. Or maybe this is an idea I invented to avoid such responsibility.

jsimmerbrown's picture

Fascinating last comment you made! We have been taught that when we fall in love, we are out of control, and that is both dangerous and delicious. We fear it just as we yearn for it.
The dharma tells us that our most intense emotions also have a thought dimension, and that we need to understand this in order to develop emotional maturity and intelligence and mental clarity. The two extremes are 1) either completely and uncontrollably falling in love, or 2) becoming cynical and jaded, incapable of falling in love. In the Middle Way teachings, we can transform the immature and impulsive experience of romantic love into a genuine and heartfelt relationship with a real person, full of the romance of the real.
These teachings are edgy, and very important for our happiness in relationships. I'm so grateful to have received them from my teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche.....
We have all suffered so much, needlessly for what we thought was true love.

Richard Fidler's picture

At first I thought this retreat had nothing to do with the dharma--falling in love reeks of attachment--but then, towards the end, comes the teaching: what about change? what about falling out of love? What if a partner dies? How does the inescapable fact of impermanence impact a relationship based upon love? That, I presume, will be addressed in the next session.

By the way, I wonder why there has been no talk about sexuality in a love relationship. Do men look upon love differently from women? Anxious to find out.

jsimmerbrown's picture

One of the things I love about the Vajrayana lineages in which I have been trained is that there is nothing that is not within the dharma. Otherwise, how could there be enlightenment? Our biggest challenge is to bring everything in our lives to the dharma, and vice versa.
What about change? Of course there are the situations you present, but every relationship, every moment of our lives are permeated with change. When we have been promised that true love will never change, never end, how are we to understand this? This is just the beginning of seeing the importance of truly understanding our romantic expectations, and how they are unrealistic and demeaning of genuine human relationships.
My last talk of the month is on sexuality and romantic love. Sexuality is very important for both men and women, don't you think?
In the Romantic Love programs I've taught, I've had more men take part than women--which has always surprised me. Of course, there are probably differences, but romantic love is close to the hearts of women and men, in my experience....