The Tyranny of Transactional Relationships
Enlightenment 301
Inmate #811 | Sep 17, 2014
Topic category: Zen Enlightenment

Sometimes I wish I could leave the Zen Asylum. To walk among the "sane" people again.

There's nothing holding me back other than knowing I don't fit anymore.

I feel sane. Things in the Zen Aslyum are logical and ordered. They make complete sense to me. Compare that to the world of chaos outside the Zen Asylum and that's what keeps me behind these invisible walls.

When I first saw enlightenment, it was like being in the movie the Matrix. All of the sudden the world I once knew vanished and was replaced by a completely different place.

Of course, in reality, the world stayed the same and it was just me that had "awakened."

But that profound shift changed me forever. As they say, once you see something, you can't un-see it. Like a gestalt picture, I will forever be locked into this new perspective. I'm now a lifelong resident of the Zen Asylum. And as long as I'm behind these walls, I'm blissfully content.

The problem is when I venture outside.

So what is so different about my perspective? What is that I see that others don't seem to?

It's our desire to control things and how that need for control distorts how we treat people.

Our culture, society and need for material possessions has warped us. We are so used to being able to "buy" happiness that we sometimes project that onto the people around us. Too often we create relationships based upon some benefit we expect to receive. Like shopping for a clothes, we shop our relationships. I call these "transactional relationships."

If someone has something to offer us, we treat them well. We think highly of them. But if someone doesn't have something to offer us we often ignore them. We think they are not worth an investment of our time energy and emotion.

How many times have you said to yourself, this person has something I want so I should be nice to him or her. How many times have you tried to make a good impression because you wanted something from someone? Be it a job interview, a wealthy friend or someone of high status and power.

And that thought process is more deeply ingrained the more you desire what they can offer you. So, if you are motivated by money, possessions or status, you shape your identity and ego around pleasing people who have money, possessions and status.

But what happens if that person doesn't reciprocate the way you expect? Often the next reaction is to judge them as unworthy of your devotion. Admiration quickly turns to contempt. "Sour grapes" as the psychologist say.

And when you do that, your relationships become even more transactional. You will invest in relationships only so long as you think you will get something in return.

Now, I'm not saying you should treat people poorly just because you feel that way. It's about being mindful about your motivations.

Within the business and work setting, we understand that relationships are "transactional." It's the definition of business. I do something for you and you agree to do something for me, but because our modern world is so obsessed with material possessions, we soon forget how much it motivates us. How much it drives us.

We all understand the need to pay the bills. To have a job that allows us to earn a living and take care of our families. But overtime we can lose ourselves to the chase. That's when we begin to hold material possession above people. And we begin to turn all our relationships into transactions. That's when we lose ourselves to our ego.

And that is life outside the Zen Asylum.

Too often we expect a return on our relationships. We turn it into an "investment" with an expected return. We set expectations for people. Our ego sets standards for whether someone has appreciated our contributions enough. And we judge whether our investment of time, energy, emotion has "paid off."

In the worst cases, we try to control the people in our relationships; be that wives, husbands or our children. Which leads us to forget what genuine deep relationships mean.

Zen enlightenment is letting go of expectations for others. Eliminating expectations for others is the process of eliminating your own ego. If someone disappoints us, we have only disappointed ourselves. Keeping unconditional love in our heart and wishing for happiness and contentment in all the people we know is the path of enlightenment.

And aren't those the kind of people we admire the most?

People who give their time without an expectation of return? People who invest in relationships by "paying it forward." It's the difference between offering a "gift" or issuing a "debt." Within the Zen Asylum it's as meaningful as it gets. It's difference between "letting go" or "holding on."

By letting go of our need to control relationships you achieve freedom.

And when you free yourself from the expectations of "transactional relationships" you get a glimpse enlightenment.

That is when we welcome you to the Zen Asylum!

Love and Peace,

Inmate #811

The Zen Asylum

Tags: TypeZen, Stress Management, Stress, Type A, Type A Personality, Henry Kang, Inmate #811, Zen Asylum
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