Marriage and Meditation
Maharaj Charan Singh says about marriage:
Sant Mat unites families, tries to create harmony in families. I always advocate that meditation makes one a better husband, better wife, a better son, a better father. If it does not, then it is we who have failed in our meditation. It should bring us together.
Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
One way to a successful marriage is to marry a saint and obey him or her. Another reliable way is to become a saint yourself. Either way, you’ll be happy and successful. However, if neither of these methods is available to you right now, join the rest of us! If we haven’t married a saint and we are not one either, then our task is simple: use our meditation to help us become more saintly and better suited for our marriage.
The Master encourages us to meditate and become better human beings. There is a three-fold relationship: meditation, becoming a good human being, and our relationship in our marriage. In meditation as in marriage, there are two fundamental supports: devotion and discipline. Being devoted to our spouse prevents many conflicts from occurring because he or she tends to trust us and we listen to each other. Being disciplined helps us do all the work of marriage and family life. Devotion implies honesty and discipline implies constancy: being loving on Wednesday and lying on Thursday is a recipe for failure. Being truthful and reliable supports a successful marriage.
Devotion may be expressed by an occasional spoken endearment, an affectionate embrace, a word of encouragement, and behaving with humility. If we are thinking negative thoughts about our spouse, it is our task to understand if there is any truth to these thoughts. Perhaps we are simply stressed out.
All of us are imperfect, and we don’t want to be attacked for our mistakes. So we exercise discipline over our words and actions toward our spouse. Mutual respect is implicit in devotion; insults and ridicule have no place in a marriage. Since Masters teach that we are all drops of the same ocean, how can one of us look down on the other? It is helpful to be disciplined in what we say to our spouse and how we say it. If we can do that, it is more likely that our spouse will do the same.
As in meditation, hard times come to every marriage, and when those challenging days or months occur, successful marriage partners think carefully together. They share ideas and feelings. Although troubles may seem overwhelming, life goes on. We must be patient and trust the process of our struggling together. Relying on the Master’s inner guidance through meditation, we can find our way through tough times.
Effective communication brings success in marriage. If we find fault with our spouse, it is best to clarify specifically what ideas or actions are troublesome. Do not attack his or her character! Remember how the Master may disagree with a questioning disciple, but he never attacks their character. He addresses particular thoughts and behaviors and he is unfailingly respectful and considerate when he does so. We can communicate calmly about what bothers us; meditation helps us do that.
All of us can express difficult emotions like anger and fear without attacking our spouse. As disciples of a Master, we want to be in charge of our feelings, and we don’t want our anger (or guilt or disappointment or fear) to be in charge of us. Emotions are a powerful part of life and we must not avoid them, but, rather, share them in a reasonable and appropriate way. Painful feelings are decreased if shared; happiness is increased if shared. The Masters have shared their compassion, tenderness, and honest feelings with disciples. If they can do that, why can’t we? Masters are models for us!
Money and sex are major issues in almost every marriage. Modern culture blasts us with these images as if they were the ways to perfect happiness. We know they are not. Still, it’s hard to find relief from these alluring images, which may appear better than our own actual life. It is easy to become obsessed with either subject, and such obsessions not only disturb our meditation but ruin many marriages. Every couple must find their own strategy and their own way of dealing with these issues. They are best resolved with love and respect; each of us can learn from the other. Each of us doesn’t need to have our own way all the time. Each of us has something to teach and something to learn.
Being a good human being is always an essential guideline for our behavior within marriage as it is on the path. We sacrifice for our children, give them love and protection, and we receive their natural joyful openness. They deserve our best care. When they need us, we stand together with our spouse, providing help and discipline. We want to be role models of a good married couple so they may be confident in their own future marriages.
In an excerpt from a letter in Treasure Beyond Measure, Maharaj Charan Singh writes:
Happiness lies in adjusting and giving yourself to each other, and not in hurting each other. One has to eschew one’s false pride and rise above embarrassment in order to come closer and closer and live in harmony and peace, and discharge one’s responsibility to the children. It is for you to win each other’s confidence and love, and make a happy home.…
What a beautiful summary of what is needed for a successful marriage!
Every marital problem can be solved peacefully. For every criticism we give to our spouse, we need to give more encouragement and appreciation. The work of life, with its many demands, can wear us down. We need to support each other toward our common goal of spiritual growth. A kind touch, a word of encouragement, or a spontaneous gift can be powerfully positive.
When we marry, we have a chance to go through life with a loved one at our side, supporting us through all the troubled times. We have someone to share our celebrations and delights. The price is that we must deepen our capacity to love, and remember that we promised to love our spouse with his or her weaknesses as well as strengths. If we implement that powerful promise, we shall enjoy the harvest of a happy home. A happy home is interdependent with our meditation and becoming a good human being. Creating an open, honest, and respectful relationship brings the harmony necessary to support our meditation. Our meditation, in turn, allows us to strengthen our resolve for a happy marriage.