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"Honesty is the highest form of intimacy".

As some of you may know, I live in a small community of six male religious. Recently I have been reflecting on what constitutes a 'community'. I have always understood a community to be based on caring, sharing, companionship and love among a group who live together, but with a certain amount of privacy or, unfortunately perhaps, isolation.

With a fair bit of shock (and horror, I might add) I now find that an even more basic and essential characteristic of 'community' is intimacy. I have always associated that term with a husband/wife type of sexual relationship. Intimacy, I now understand, involves an openness to reveal one's inner self and a readiness to see the real selves of others so as to lead to deeper mutual understanding.

In a Religious community one may be inclined to prefer privacy to intimacy and draw a distinction between Religious life and family life and claim that the former is not meant to imitate family life. To me this stance is expressing a certain fear of closeness or a lack of belief in the possibility of achieving personal closeness. I ask how members of a Religious community can grow in emotional maturity if they do not experience a closeness that brings out their true qualities?

I understand the Indian guru, Osho, to have said, "No relationship can truly grow if you go on holding back. If you remain clever and go on safeguarding and protecting yourself, only personalities meet, and the essential centres remain hidden. Then only your mask is related, not you. Whenever that happens there are four persons in the relationship. Two false persons go on meeting, and the two real persons remain worlds apart."

Intimacy, therefore, involves a meeting of our real selves in the context of a community that believes in the value of sharing deeply.

I'm afraid this subject requires a lot more reflecting upon, and even a lot more time putting into practice!


Well, Intimacy grows from honesty, that much I know. One can guard parts of yourself from others, if you tell them that you are doing so, and why [although probably not in detail as that would kind of negate the point.] More a line of chalk on the floor, than a locked door, if you see what I mean.

Which brings me to the other thing intimacy needs... respect. Including respect for boundaries. Which are necessary, because with all due respect to Osho, [whom I've read and admire] complete openness is an unobtainable ideal given that one is talking about two flawed humans. Plus, it's not healthy to be too open.

Meeting each other's real selves is good, merging and/or assimilating them... not so much. Which means boundaries.
My, thank you for those clarifications.
I see how important they are. I shall certainly
bear them in mind as I continue my humble reflections.
It's a road I've walked for a bit now.. although the path is obviously different for everyone I thought I'd throw out a few breadcrumbs to help a fellow traveller along. I know we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but that's no reason not to help if I can.
that is a lot to think about!

as you know, i did graduate work in religious studies with a lot of nuns, priests, brothers
they talked about their experiences with their communities

i remember the men in particular feeling isolated
it was one of the problems they had with celibacy - they missed the joys of family life - not just physical relations with a woman but the sharing of themselves with another person -
they did not feel that was possible in a religious community

marriage is so much more than sex - you have formed a legal partnership and are responsible for each other - the things so many marriages flounder on - money - raising children - sharing responsibilities

To be successful you have to be honest and willing to compromise
yes, there is privacy in marriage - we all need our own space, time and thoughts
but the big things that bind you together must be shared (and dealt with)

a community of six - that is small - hard to hide in that number - to be unknown
do you have a common prayer life together?
it's a place to start

i wonder if women's communities have "intimacy" problems?
women seem so much more inclined to share our lives with one another

I am very interested in your thoughts on this subject

May your reflections be fruitful
Thank you for that. I always like your very down to earth common sense replies.
I often regret seeing so many modern couples keeping their surnames when married - to me it smacks of less than full commitment. It appears to be the same with those unmarried living together.
Yes, we still have daily formal prayer sessions based mainly on the traditional breviary. In our own community I try to break away from such restraints and introduce a more modern, more 'meaningful' approach. But it's a slow process!
oh i remember the "what name?" problem lol
i've been married 48 years
it was considered being independent and feminist to keep your name
then it was countered that it was really your "father's" name - so some women took their mother'd maiden name but that was originally a paternal name so...

i remember the puzzlement when i got married
it was not considered professional to tell my clients of my impending marriage so suddenly the woman they had known as Miss W was now Mrs P - some of them thought they had reached the wrong person LOL

i'm an old lady and a firm believer in the legal benefits of marriage : )
"spiritual partnership" is all well and good but who is paying the electric bill?
"in sickness and in health" can come in very handy for health insurance
if legal marriage was all that bad marriage equality would not have been such a big issue

i used the breviary for years
i liked the link with the centuries of people praying the same prayers
i think there must be ways to make prayer both traditional and modern

Thinking of you : )

To an extent, anyone living with another person will have difficulties if they are dishonest and the repercussions can be as minor as addressing the problem in a discussion to as major as asking the individual to leave the household. Honesty is a foundation for any relationship.

What concerns me is that honesty seems to be swept away when a person is considered a "representative" of many. Thus, politicians tend to have their own, quite peculiar brand of "honesty" which I. in many cases, consider the honest road of silence. They simply don't mention what would be considered controversial or dishonest if the person they are addressing would be alienated by their comments. Honest dishonesty. What a conundrum!

- Erulisse (one L)
I love that phrase "the honest road of silence".
One would often question the 'honesty' of our politicians.
I love the quote.

I believe intimacy means meeting ourselves first, knowing who we are at core, and through that, and in that, learning and gaining intimacy with others. I'm coming up on 45 years of marriage, and what I've learned is how much time, patience and courage, it takes to know true intimacy with myself, and therefore with another, with my husband, with family, and with friends. Perhaps, the closer I come, the more I sense that there are even more realms to explore.

It is a journey. I'm grateful for the journey to better know myself, and through that, to get a taste of what it is to be another human and spiritual being. I believe we are mirrors for each other, and ultimately we are One.
Thank you for your valued contribution.
I wonder if technology will soon be able to reflect our true inner self and that of others. I'm sure there would be a few red faces.
Smiling. Yes. I read today that our iPhones may come to read our emotions, so, yes, who knows?
After eighty plus years you discovered this!!
Maybe there is hope for me yet.
Incidentally, i am married.
I envy those who have experienced it earlier in life.
My niece's maiden name is the same as her brother's wife who took the family name
and to add to the confusion the daughter of a cousin of theirs has the same name

100 years from now someone tracing the family is going to have fun with that knot of names
"I imagine your community is exploring it together?" Given our advanced ages I'm afraid that is going to be a long haul!

The name problem really goes back to medieval times when property and estates meant so much. The wife was a chattel.

How do gay marriages manage the decision about name and heredity?
My, I would find it difficult to reply in full to your important questions.

A summary might be: My Community journey is being undertaken together and I would hope, with the same expectations ie. to follow the Christian way as closely as possible. Formal prayers and rituals are an important part of this. As we are old our former ministry (teaching) is not now open to us. What we lack I think is the will to discuss subjects such as this we are involved in here.

Edited at 2016-01-10 22:46 (UTC)
This whole post left me scratching my head a bit. To me "community" defaults to "religious community", but what I understand by that and what you understand by it are completely different, and therefore what we understand community to be about are also completely different.

As a small religious minority, for Jews like myself "community" normally means either the entirety of Anglo-Jewry, or the membership of one's local synagogue, or somewhere in between (i.e. all the Jews in the area regardless of synagogal affiliation). We don't have religious orders like you do, and so don't have communities in the sense that you do. As such, caring and sharing are communal values, companionship to an extent (in the form of the social aspect of attendance at synagogal services and events), but love and intimacy not at all.

Occasionally one hears politicians on the news talking about local communities; this also leaves me scratching my head. Whilst there are certainly counterexamples outside of urban areas, and even inside them, I don't get the sense that the inhabitants of most areas of a city have enough in common to have anything to bind them together as a community.
As you rightly say, one finds oneself a part of many different 'communities'.
In my own case I am speaking of my own small formal religious community of six members who are living together.

But the honest and open way I try to relate to the others in my small community must form the basis for ALL my relationships: family, church group, golf club, political party, afternoon tea group, etc.

The AIM must always be total honesty, openness, and intimacy. My problem: Is this possible?

Edited at 2016-01-10 22:32 (UTC)
Why must intimacy be part of all relationships? Why do you need to be intimate with members of your golf club?
Because I do not REALLY know the other member or he me, unless I am totally open and honest with him/her.
But is really knowing the other what a golf club is all about? (I'd have thought that was playing golf.)