Only to an irritable person. What you are talking about now is a reaction to something. Only an irritable person can get irritated; this is something that comes from within, not from without. Of course, irritability will react with irritability and perhaps this is what you mean.
Possibly, but manipulation in its worst form is carried out by people who can always see what others should be doing but are incapable of seeing what can be done by themselves; it is also carried out by self-centred people. Sometimes, of course, people, particularly children, have to be manipulated for their own good. It is the motivation behind the manipulation that is important and the extent to which it infringes on the rights and freewill of the manipulated.
Can it be said that defective thinking, wrong perspectives and ‘set’ together account for all bad relationships?
Not for all, that would be too sweeping a statement, but they account for about 95%. One unfortunate aspect is that there is a tendency with some personalities, to project on to one with whom they have a relationship characteristics which are actually their own. For instance, a person may begin to think that his or her partner is acting strangely, or is over-interested in this or that, or not interested enough in something else, when all the time it is not the partner who has changed but the person’s perspectives which have undergone a subtle transformation, so that he or she views the other differently. Once a distorted viewpoint becomes set then the chances are that that the relationship will become strained. People rarely fall out of love with someone because of changes in that someone, but because of changes within themselves.
‘Set’ means a specific set state of mind, certain mental fixations, and perhaps we could use the expression ‘mental set’. It is a set way of viewing things, irrespective of their actuality. Thus set can be deceiving in that you may sometimes see what you expect to see even if it is not there. If you dislike a person you may find difficulty in viewing his or her motives objectively, you will give them a biased interpretation unfavourable to him or her. In other words, you are set against that person. Magicians rely heavily on set. They set the atmosphere and get you to expect them to do one thing, so you actually see them doing it, for example burning your five dollar bill, even though they are really doing something different. Because of your ‘set’ you miss the little tricks, in fact you fail to see a great deal of what goes on. Set will continue for some time after the initial expectation. When people are asked to recall as many names as possible beginning with a certain letter, say T, they will be set for names beginning with T several hours after the experiment has ended. The task remains at the back of the mind and as soon as a T name appears, even in a completely different setting, it will stand out. The same can happen in daily life. You may have had a name on the tip of your tongue but been unable to recall it. Later, you may hear the name incidentally in conversation, or read it, and immediately you recognize that this was the name you could not remember. Although it was not consciously looked for at that particular time, the mind had remained set for it. ‘Set’ affects virtually everything we do and see. Any belief system will make a person set to notice those events and facts that support his
or her belief and miss those which do not. This is why two people can hold completely opposite views about religion, politics, education, the state of the economy, etc. and each will find from his or her experiences that the world is the way he or she believes it to be. They have subconsciously selected the supporting evidence. This can be very comforting, but it also leads to bigotry and prejudice. Mark Brown, in his boot ‘Set ThinkingWhy Dogs Look Like Their Owners’, suggests that a good way to offset this is occasionally to try holding the opposite belief. By doing this you can make sure you are seeing both sides of the situation and not becoming ‘over-set’ in any particular direction. As to why dogs tend to look like their owners and vice versa, this is also a matter of ‘set’. Any outstanding quality or feature in the one sets you to notice this quality in the other. If you meet a pudgy man with a boxer dog you will be more likely to notice if the man has a squashed nose himself, or if the dog is also overweight. You will pick out any ways in which they are similar, but will probably not notice the hundreds of ways in which they differ. If you have just had an argument with someone you may feel that that someone is the most selfish and uncompromising of people and when you next meet him or her you will be set to notice his or her bad points. Conversely, when you are ‘head over heels in love’ the loved one is the best in the world, in your eyes he or she can do no wrong. Not only does set affect the way we see other people, it can sometimes change the other person for better or for worse. A study of over one hundred children measured the extent to which a parent’s expectancy in a child’s ability affects the child. Of the children whose mothers rated them below average and predicted that they would remain so, only 7.7% were free from emotional disturbances at the ages of ten or eleven. Whereas 46.2% of the children whose mothers rated them above average were free from symptoms. This relationship was independent of other factors, such as the educational level of the parents, their occupations, ages, the family size or type of delivery, suggesting that it was indeed a direct influence of ‘set’. Similarly, a schoolteacher’s expectancy of a child’s ability can often determine the child’s actual performance at school. If a group of children is divided into two groups of equal aptitudes, but their teachers are told that children in one group have high level IQs and are expected to excel at school while the other children are academically poor, the first group will do much better than the second. This effect, known as the Pygmalion effect, has been borne out by numerous studies, not only in school, but n business, politics, medicine, psychology, relationship s and other situations. In a now legendary experiment, psychology students were given two identical groups of rats. They were told that only one group was intelligent and trained, although both groups actually had the same aptitudes. The results of the students’ experiment showed that the so-called intelligent rats performed better in the mazes than did their supposedly dumb fellows.
As with the schoolteachers who were set to notice the achievements of the ‘bright’ children and the failures of the others, the students were set To expect poor performance from the group of rats described as inferior. With children some of the effects may also be due to the children becoming set as a result of a teacher’s attitude. A child may pick up, either directly or indirectly, that he is not thought to be very bright and he become ‘set’ to this fact. As a result he is quick to notice his failures and slower to notice his successes, and his negative set is therefore reinforced, so he performs less well than another child of similar aptitude who has been led to believe that he is bright. Overall social trends can also be affected by ‘set’. If, for example, the majority of people believe the country is one the verge of collapse, that extremists are about to take over, that ecological disaster is around the corner and that doom is sure to come, then doom is far more likely to come, particularly when these attitudes are reinforced through the media. One recent study showed that even the quality of news bulletins can affect a person’s attitude to others. People who heard positive bulletins recalling the good news of the day showed more positive feelings towards other people than did those whose news was full of gloom. A major report by Willis Harman and colleagues, at the Stanford Research Institute, came to the conclusion that society tends to move towards the dominant image propagated through the media and the educational system. It concluded that if humanity is to survive the next few decades it is essential to re-affirm the positive sides of human potential and ‘set’ society for a positive future.
The tendency relates to personality and not to age. However, viewpoints and perspectives are accentuated or hardened with the passage of time. It is true that in our society there is a great deal of defective and Distorted thinking among the elderly, but that is more the fault of society than of the aging process. In many societies age is still equated with wisdom.
Here it is very important. In the early stages of marriage, because of a particular set each partner usually views the other through rose coloured glasses. However, if the right foundation has not been laid down for the marriage, the scales of ‘set’ may swing the other way and partners may begin to view each other in a negative kind of set. Because of this the negative viewpoint will be continually confirmed and so a compounding situation will arise, which will eventually alienate spouse from spouse. A woman who develops a set which causes her to lose respect for her husband will constantly find this disrespect confirmed, because that is what she wants to see and no matter what he may do to swing the balance the other way the odds are loaded against him. Similarly, a man who develops a ‘set’ which causes him to be continually critical of his wife will never lack things to criticize, because his set in this direction will constantly bring such things to his attention. The question of ‘set’ is important in many aspects and particularly so when it comes to relationships. It is hoped that the subject will be raised at our public meetings and other gatherings where the improvement of one’s life and personality, as well as relationship problems, are dealt with.
Forgiveness is a virtue, but the answer to this is not simple and dogmatic. We should do whatever prevents people repeating a wrong and do whatever is necessary to show them the error of their ways. If, for instance, someone robs or assaults us and we simply forgive and accept what has happened passively, then we are in fact encouraging the wrong that has been committed. We must either condone or condemn and an assault or a robbery is something which, in the interests of others and of society, is to be condemned. There is a difference between forgiveness and justice, and we must be wise enough to know the dividing line. Forgiveness must therefore be contingent upon certain things, but to be unforgiving is entirely wrong.
An area where it can be damaging is that of religion. A fervent protestant may not see any good in the faith of a catholic. Likewise a bigoted catholic may see little to praise in the protestant faith, while his own will appear beyond reproach. A rabid communist will find little good in capitalism and vice versa. ‘Set’ causes distortions in thinking and in perspectives and is something very difficult to deal with because it, itself, camouflages such distortions and people sincerely believe they are right. ‘Set’ also plays a significant part in health. Cancer in particular is one illness where set can have important consequences. There is a general set throughout western society that cancer is a killer, and once it is diagnose in an individual the negative set becomes a personal one, particularly if it is reinforced by a prediction that the patient concerned has only six months, or whatever, to live. A prediction of death can sometimes be enough to bring death about. In the Murngin tribe of Northern Australia the headman can tell a tribesman that he will die in two days, and almost invariably the person ails and dies before the forty-eight hours are up. Scientists investigating such cases have found no evidence of physical illness in the corpses. If, however, such tribesman is told that he will not die after all, he generally recovers without further ado. Similar principles have been applied in one of the more promising approaches to the treatment of cancer. Carl and Stephanie Simonton, two cancer researchers, give their patients a positive setting for survival, showing them many cases of spontaneous remission, educating them on the body’s own self-healing potential and getting them to actively visualize the body becoming well again. As a result 30% of the patients have shown a complete recovery and another 45% have become well on the way to recovery. Although this work is only in the preliminary stages the success rates are very much higher than those attained with conventional cancer treatment. Another field of medicine in which ‘set’ has been used to great advantage is childbirth. Dr Grantly Dick-Read, a strong advocate of natural childbirth, believes that an important factor in easy childbirth is the mother’s positive image of birth, for this prevents the ‘fear-tension-pain’ syndrome. In western society young women are continually exposed to negative mental setting about the suffering of childbirth and the resulting fear leads to resistant actions in the womb, muscular tension, disturbed blood flow to the uterus, buildup of waste products in the tissues, and eventually to pain. Here the fear of pain actually produces pain. In many primitive societies where there is no cultural tradition of trauma in childbirth women seem to give birth with little sign of distress; for many it can even be a blissful transcendental experience.
Is it true that many bad relationships are the outcome of one person trying to manipulate another?
This is indeed true. There are many forms of subtle manipulation which cause a resentful reaction. The most common form is when a person becomes irritable or stressed because someone else is not doing what they think he or she should be doing, or doing something he or she should not be doing. Eventually the other will begin to feel resentful at having to comply with the wishes of that person in order to keep the peace. This is a recipe for disaster. The resentment more often than not will be subconscious and will express itself in such a way that it will accentuate the irritability or stress of the other, and so there is a vicious circle. Another form of manipulation is where a husband, without criticizing his wife’s cooking or housekeeping, will praise someone else’s cooking or
housekeeping. Or a woman, failing to get her husband to do some repair, will take one of his tools which she is incapable of using properly, and let the husband know she is going to do the job herself. He, knowing the only outcome will be a damaged tool and botched job, has to leave what he is doing and do the job. Parents manipulate children and children manipulate parents, and the consequence is the sowing of seeds which lead to defective relationships later.
That is a very sweeping statement, and while it is not easy to discover problems which, when traced right back to fundamental causes, do not relate to some form of defective relationship, it cannot be said that such a statement is entirely correct.
That is a very sweeping statement, and while it is not easy to discover problems which, when traced right back to fundamental causes, do not relate to some form of defective relationship, it cannot be said that such a statement is entirely correct.
It is not only possible but often desirable. The modern concept that a
man and a woman cannot be close friends without sex entering into it is wholly wrong and is indicative of the prevailing overconcern with sex. Persons who can cultivate and maintain platonic friendships are usually well balanced people and their more intimate relationships are better balanced than average
It has been noted in many instances that two people have lived together in a de facto relationship for many years, then they marry and within a matter of months what had previously been a happy relationship has gone sour.
Our generation is not the first to note this phenomenon. The formulators of our cultural moral code also noticed this. The reason is that prior to marriage there had been only a partial or qualified commitment; the parties, or one of them, did not feel fully committed to the other, and love, too, had qualifications and reservations. Consequently, when the marriage commitment is made it is more of a formality than a fact, the qualifications and reservations remain in the subconscious and, being suppressed, manifest in irritations and disagreements. The love that was fragile and uncommitted fails to withstand the strains of commitment and becomes burdensome, with the inevitable result. Statistics overwhelmingly show that ‘trialmarriages’ are rarely successful. At the best what ensues from them in the way of marriage is no more than a reflection of what could have been. Of course, as always there are exceptions and some happy de facto relationships have remained harmonious following marriage commitment.
Age of itself does not account for it. Such people were much the same when younger, admittedly to a lesser degree. There are certain types of personalities which, if not rectified early in life, will lead to the attributes you have mentioned in old age. Those who are cheerful, optimistic, positive, have a sense of humour and are concerned about others, will be unlikely to grow into grouchy individuals.
Marriage may be a stabilizing factor, but is it not true that there are bad marriages and bad relationships within marriage?
Of course this is true. What happens here is that marriage simply bounds together two people who have embarked on a defective relationship. When a marriage mate is chosen for the wrong reasons, without sufficient responsibility, the obviously trouble ensues. Marriage alters nothing in the personal make up of the partners; of itself it will ne bring them closer emotionally, nor will it mature them, but what happens within the marriage may. Marriage is the beginning of a long tortuous road, to succeed it must be embarked upon with due seriousness.
The opinion of some young people is that old people are self-centered. Evidently you do not agree.
Research by social units has not indicated that this is so. However, it may appear that way to others because of some form of ‘set’. Also many younger people fail to make due allowance for the physical failings of the old, and a self-centered reaction on the part of an elderly person may be a form of self-defence.
There are five which most people who have been able to achieve a really loving relationship identify. Over 85% of those questioned concurred on these attributes, which are:- Commitment. Over the last two generations (the duration of the research) the decline in social stability has been pro rata to the other degree of commitment couples have been prepared to make to each other. It is significant that in the studies made those who did not attach much importance to commitment were those with the greatest degree of relationship instability. Ours is a ‘use and throw away’ society and this attitude has widened to include intersexual relationships. Women in general are no longer discriminating to the extent that they expect a man to make a serious commitment to them; in other words, they have devalued themselves; consequently men take them at their own face value. Men also lack the discrimination of former generations and are prepared to accept any female who is willing to fulfil the needs of the moment. The whole thing boils down to a matter of responsibility; people seem to lack the ability, the will if you like, to choose a suitable mate. The Japanese have carried out some fairly comprehensive social studies on the matter and figures show that where the parents have chosen the marriage mates, the likelihood of a divorce is one in twenty-four marriages. However, where the couples have chosen their own mates, the likelihood of divorce is increased to one in six. This is not a phenomenon confined to Japan; it is also confirmed among other cultures and appears to be worldwide. There should be nothing surprising about this, nor is there any mystery here, for research also show that where a man or woman chooses a marriage mate wisely, with due seriousness, sense of responsibility and commitment to love and parenthood, the divorce rate is not much different from that in arranged marriages. We are back with the old question, ‘Is freedom without complementary responsibility a viable proposition for a society which wishes to remain healthy?’ Research confirms that there is a need for greater discrimination in the choice of a marriage mate and that an essential ingredient in a really loving relationship is commitment. Communication. This is undoubtedly the most essential skill for sustaining any loving relationship, and we refer to it as a skill because it is something that needs to be worked on. It does not come easily and most people seem to find the effort too great. The time for developing it to maturity is during courtship, but many are either unclear as to what they want to convey, or are unable to put it into the right words. Apart from this, many couples during courtship appear to be playing games of pretend with each other, rather than seriously settling down to communicating. This putting on of a false front, which collapses when the two get to know each other better, is also a cause of disillusionment which, in turn, sours a relationship. Good listeners are a rarity, and sharing, so vital to loving communication, ceases when one senses that the other is only partially listening. What every couple has to develop is its own methods of communication and response, for the latter is no less important than the former and an insensitive
response can often be very hurtful. Each partner should make plain, publicly and privately, that he or she values and respects, as well as loves, the other. There should be no reticence about this. Research shows that nearly 70% of couples are deficient in communication or response. It also indicates that it is among these that relationships most readily break down. Affection. A demonstration of affection can be beneficial in many ways, but the majority of people seem to be self-conscious both about giving and receiving it. It is true that a certain amount of reserve, modesty and decorum is necessary and one should not go to the unnatural extreme either way. It is again a matter of balance. The affection of one who freely bestows this affection on all and sundry is of little intrinsic value. Lines must be drawn somewhere, but what is generally lacking today is affection within a relationship where it can properly be expressed. It is probably significant that those who spread their affection indiscriminately are often lacking the capacity to display it fully in an intimate relationship. However, it has been amply demonstrated that those able to achieve a really loving and fulfilling relationship have an above average capacity for demonstrating and responding to affection. Forgiveness. There is something wholesome and strengthening in the concept of true forgiveness; something which transcends the flaccid, mealymouthed supplications of the religious mendicant. However, forgiveness often comes hard, especially when we can find no explanation for another person’s hurtful behavior. We can forgive only when we are wise enough to perceive the wrongdoer with compassion, as a vulnerable, imperfect human being like ourselves, capable of weakness and frailty. Love enables us to put the wrong in perspective and view the act apart from the person. We can see our long-range relationships as greater and more valuable than the momentary pain caused by an isolated negative act. Forgiveness should be viewed responsibly, for indiscriminate forgiving can be negative and destructive. We have to consider whether forgiveness may be taken as condoning something and whether it will encourage a repetition. Our law courts, for instance, can operate on the principles of justice and leniency, but their operations would be impossible if they embraced forgiveness. Forgiveness is essential in a loving relationship, but outside of the intimate family circle it should be exercised with discrimination and responsibility. Honesty. Our personal security is based upon the assumption that those we love will be honest with us. When that security is shaken by a deception, lives can be shattered. Trust is impossible without frankness, and without trust there can be no love. Even insignificant deceptions such as those meant to spare feelings can lead to tangled webs of distrust. The harshness of truth can be mitigated by consideration in a truly loving relationship, providing there is no outright deception. For instance, instead of saying, “I don’t like that dress, I think it looks awful”, one could say, “I don’t like that dress as much as some of your others, but that is just a personal opinion and someone else may think differently”. We have to accept that we may fall from the path of truth from time to
time, but if we want our relationship to last and to grow honesty and trust must be our constant goals. These are the five qualities upon which the great majority of those who had established a stable loving relationship agreed. There are other qualities which are conducive to harmonious relationships. Consideration immediately comes to mind. For men it is one of the three Cs – consideration, chivalry and courtesy. It may not be the big problems that cause relationships to falter and fail, but the small incidents which occur over a long period of time, the little inconsiderate behaviours, thoughtless comments, words left unspoken or well intentioned acts that are deferred. We frequently treat casual acquaintances more thoughtfully than we do those we love. Human beings develop best in an atmosphere of loving consideration. Another quality is that of acceptance. True love is the acceptance of another, with all his or her imperfections; it means loving the unlovable in some cases. Developing as a whole person is a lifetime process and is very far from complete when two people come together in a relationship. From then on they have to develop together, in accord and for the time being have to accept each other as they are. If we are afraid to disclose our imperfect selves, as so many are, we cannot expect others to disclose theirs, and we remain strangers. To form lasting relationships with others we must be happy with what we and they are. We must have as deep a respect for their feelings and attitudes as we do for our own. A big stabilizing influence in relationships is tradition and custom. Those who lightly discard these are the ones who tend towards relationship difficulties. Nowadays tradition is often denigrated as romantic nonsense, but again, it should be noted, only by those who have problems with relationships. As society discards its culture and traditions so does it decline and that is what we are seeing happening today. The traditional family Sunday meals, the holiday get-togethers, the customs which used to bring people together and bind them in stability, have largely been pushed aside. The customs and traditions of a culture, passed along from one generation to the next, remain a certainty in a world of uncertainties. They reflect the influences humankind has discovered to be stabilizing ones, as it moved upward from primitivism, and we discard them at our own cost.
Jealousy is an expression of immaturity, but not many of us are without it in some form or another and so we must come to terms with this emotion. It can become an all-destroying monster, capable of ruining the best of relationships, but it should be recognized more as a challenge to help us grow in maturity and personal knowledge. It cannot diminish until we finally accept that we cannot possess another human being. We have to learn that loving others is to want them to be themselves, however painful this may be to us. Love must be set free and only when it returns in absolute freedom can we know we have the real thing.
Why is there so much mistrust and misunderstanding among people? Some are only able to see the bad in others and motives and intent are very often misinterpreted?
The Culdians are well aware of this situation, for their motives are continually being misinterpreted by others. To explain this adequately we will have to introduce the concept of ‘set’, a word which is now little used in its original context. People tend to see what they expect to see and overlook what they are not expecting to see, and this is known as ‘set’. Because of this many beliefs about the world and people become self-validating. This happens because we usually notice the things which support our beliefs. Likewise we tend to automatically fulfil the image and goal we set for ourselves. When things seem to go wrong it may well be because of a pessimistic self-image. Conversely, deliberately ‘setting’ for positive goals can bring success.
You have stated elsewhere that people are drawn together by the law of affinity. If this is so then teaching stating that they can also be drawn into a relationship because of former hate or ill treatment must be wrong.
The law of affinity decrees that like be drawn to like and all gravitate towards a state of compatibility. However, the kharmic law cannot be overridden by the law of affinity when it comes to reincarnation. Consequently they work together. People are therefore drawn into relationships because of past hatreds and wrongful actions; debts have to be paid and injustices righted. Only thus can the balances be adjusted.