and Spiritual Lessons
I watched the Rielle Hunter interview on Oprah a couple weeks ago and it prompted a desire to write on the topic of spiritual development and spiritual lessons. Like many people, I'm intrigued with politics, relationships and the scandals that often develop, but probably for different reasons than most. I watch with fascination at the process of spiritual evolution that unfolds before us. I love to observe and analyze the dynamics before, during and after, what they learn and how they change.
In my line of work, I deal with people everyday and I know that what we see play out in the lives of politicians and celebrities are the same issues that all people deal with in their own lives. Although it is tragic for the politicians and celebrities to go through their spiritual crises in front of the whole world, it is good for society to see because it brings awareness to the issues of infidelity, sexual addiction, spirituality, relationships etc. that are so prevalent in our society today, and the little understanding we have about resolving them.
What struck me the most about this interview was that it became very clear that Oprah has a very narrow view and limited understanding of spirituality and she's not alone. Most people don't truly understand the process of spiritual development and the spiritual lessons that we go through during that process. The Rielle Hunter interview is an excellent example for us to use to examine what spiritual development really looks like.
Oprah often scoffed and made comments like "okay, miss spirituality," which in my view was a very subtle insult to Rielle and implied that she wasn't on a spiritual path. I'm sure this is an attitude shared by many across the nation.
Although I have no way of knowing if Rielle is telling the truth in respect to the details of the scandal, to anyone who truly understands spirituality, they could see that Rielle was speaking the truth, as far as spiritual lessons go.
For the most part, spiritual development is not achieved by reading The Secret or the latest book by Eckhart Tolle, practicing the law of attraction, going to church or spiritual seminars, meditating, etc. it is found through our experiences in our life. Although books, seminars, meditation etc. can be good tools for exploration, the real spiritual lessons are found in living life - primarily through our relationships with others. The relationship with our lovers are usually the most powerful lessons and what propel us through spiritual evolution.
Although living a life of truth and authenticity is the goal, it is usually a long and complicated road to get there. It takes time to evolve. Most people don't just wake up one day a totally truthful and authentic person. It is a process to figure it out and most of us usually fall on our spiritual faces a variety of times before arriving.
I am not in anyway advocating infidelity or saying it is right to have an affair. What I am saying is that life and spiritual development are messy and complicated. As a matter of fact, the biggest and most important spiritual lessons are usually learned through painful, messy, controversial, conflicted and contradicting situations, that on the surface look anything but spiritual, until the process unfolds and enlightenment is achieved. However, sometimes the lessons learned are only apparent to those who went through the process.
Rielle Hunter said that she and John Edwards had a magnetic force between them. As anyone knows who has experienced this kind of connection with another person, there is no way to deny it or run from it. It is bigger and more powerful than you and is usually impossible to resist, even if you know you should or it seems wrong not to. It is a spiritual force.
When you have a magnetic force type of connection with someone, there is a reason they are in your life and you can be certain that the spiritual lesson will be huge. You can also be certain that you are both going to have a significant impact on one another's lives. You will both be learning something major and be different people when it is over.
For lack of a better word, I call these people our "soul mates." I believe a soul mate is someone who helps you learn and grow. They may be in your life for a season, a year, a decade or an eternity. It all depends on when the lesson is finished and what steps each person has taken in the process.
Your relationship with a soul mate is often passionate, tumultuous and/or filled with conflict. Some people have one soul mate, but some of us have a variety of soul mates. There may be several of them throughout a lifetime. You know someone is your soul mate when the connection you have with each other is so powerful it is much bigger than you are and can't be denied.
A soul mate is not always someone you are intimate with; it can be a friend, a mentor, a counselor, etc. A soul mate has such a profound impact on your life, it alters its course and you feel connected to them forever, even if you never see them again. In the end you are usually better people with more awareness, you know yourself more deeply and have a better understanding of life and relationships.
Oprah said that Elizabeth Edwards had said something along the lines of "she couldn't understand what kind of woman tells a married man he's "hot." I know it sounds harsh and I'm sorry to say it, but maybe one of the reasons John was so eager to hear this from someone else is because he wasn't hearing it from Elizabeth from time to time. Research tells us that one of the most common reasons men have affairs is because they feel unappreciated. I'm sorry, but women must take responsibility for their part when infidelity occurs. If sex addiction isn't part of the picture, infidelity occurs because there is a problem in the relationship.
If we're dealing with a man who has a sex addiction, that's a whole other ball game. However, as long as sex addiction isn't part of the picture and he isn't lacking in self-esteem, if a man's emotional and sexual needs are being met in his primary relationship, he is not likely to stray. It doesn't appear that John Edward's has a sex addiction. He was not having sex with several women, like some of the other celebrities in the news today, and he surely isn't lacking in the self-esteem area. He was having a relationship with one woman that he cared about. Apparently all was not good on the home front.
On the other hand, sometimes infidelity happens simply because people grow apart. We are not the same people in our twenties as we are in our thirties and not the same in our forties as we were in our thirties. Sometimes people evolve together, but sometimes they do not. If it's time to let go of one another and we are reluctant, the Universe often presents us with a situation that forces us to change.
When Oprah did an interview with Elizabeth Edwards last year, I could clearly see sadness, deceit and dishonesty in John Edward's eyes and demeanor. It was as "thick as a knife." I don't know how Elizabeth could not have seen it. He seemed like a fish out of water. I suspected in that moment that John Edwards was in love with Rielle Hunter and was remaining in his marriage for other reasons. It was obvious that Elizabeth was not seeing this situation realistically and it appeared she did not want to know the truth. She wanted to make things the way they used to be. This is true of many women, they refuse to see the truth about their men, because it means their life will have to change. I knew without a doubt that there was more to this story that would come out some day.
If John had a strong and healthy marriage, when Rielle Hunter told him that "he was hot," he would have graciously thanked her for the compliment as it was originally intended, and they would have went their separate ways.
What should have happened in a healthy marriage is that John would have walked away feeling flattered, Rielle would have walked away feeling satisfied for expressing and sharing herself. John would have shared with his wife, "hey that woman told me I was hot," and she should have responded with something like, "yes, she's a wise woman, you sure are," and an affectionate pat on his buttocks. There would have been no threat.
It's a pretty harmless and innocent gesture that takes place all the time. There is no harm in expressing the appreciation of someone's assets, as long as boundaries remain in tact and boundaries will remain in tact in a relationship that is strong and healthy.
Rielle said she followed her heart and it seemed this relationship was supposed to be part of her spiritual development, and although that seems contradictory in nature, it really isn't. This is how spiritual lessons are learned.
When we go through a powerful phase of spiritual development, all people involved are likely to endure great emotional pain. Though if everyone is truly honest, in the end they usually all can say that they are now better people with more awareness and understanding because of it. They are now living a more honest and authentic life. We can see this appears to be the case for each of the people involved in the Rielle Hunter situation as well. It may not be the outcome that they desired or expected, but once they get beyond the pain they are more enlightened.
We've seen similar spiritual crises evolve in front of us before. There's been Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Jesse James, and Tiger Woods to name a few. Each one of these men endured public embarrassment and apparently deep emotional pain as they faced the risk of losing the woman they loved. It was this pain that motivated them to really look at themselves and take action to change. Some couples make it through the crises together and others don't, regardless, each one undoubtedly goes through great change and growth, in spite of themselves.
Bill Clinton was a prime example of how confused our society is in relation to sex and relationships. Even the President has sexual conflict and this sheds light on the depth of this issue for all of us. However, he did learn and become a healthier person.
If you saw Bill Clinton's interview with Oprah when his book came out about the scandal, it was obvious that Bill had gone through significant spiritual evolution. He talked about how they went to counseling and how he learned what the root of his behavior was and resolved a lifelong issue he had with women. He and Hillary probably have a much stronger and healthier relationship at this point.
David Letterman has shared publicly several times his heartfelt regret and remorse for reckless behavior and the process of healing that his relationship is going through. It appears that he too has learned some significant spiritual lessons and became a better man.
Sometimes we see people go through the same experience repeatedly, that is because the behavior will repeat over and over again until the lesson is learned. Lessons are not always learned the first time around. Sometimes it takes time to put all the pieces together.
The John Edwards and Rielle Hunter relationship is a perfect example of what spiritual development looks like. However, I realize that most people are not in a place where they can recognize this.
We should not judge other people for the spiritual path they must travel. They are growing and learning. We should not look down on them with shame or superiority. To do so robs them of the lessons they have to learn. We should be using these situations to look into our own lives and what we can learn about life, love, sex, spirituality and relationships by observing them.
Sometimes the road to a more truthful and authentic life is ugly, tumultuous and wild until you get to the other side. This is the nature of spirituality.