Friday, September 5, 2014

Marriage: Is it Necessary?

Did I get your attention? Truthfully now: cohabitation is as acceptable as blue skies and sun (or, in my case, here in Seattle, grey clouds and rain). So why do couples go through all the fuss and bother and expense (and stress) of a marriage ceremony? Is it a tax savings device? Hardly!

Is it guilt or some social hangover from centuries of sentimentality and hopelessly repetitive traditions? I hope not, or at least I don't think so. Modern, educated and conscious-lifestyle couples step up to the marriage altar for many reasons, of course, but also, I believe, owing to impulses that run deep in the human psyche.

When I say "deep," I am NOT referring to some lizard brained, Darwinian ape-like impulse to, ah, what: survive? I am not aware of any other species who uses a ceremony to establish a committed relationship. Or as I sometimes put it when sometime trots out a survival-related reason for various profound, ennobling or genius-like human activities: "Speak for yourself!."

The impulse to memorialize and consecrate a couple's relationship comes from a higher plane of consciousness. It affirms the sacredness of commitment, of trust, of responsibility to and for one another. On a metaphysical level the two become One, thus re-affirming the highest (or deepest) truth precept humankind has ever, often, and repeatedly averred: as God is one, we are one, and, as children of God, we, too, in our souls, at least, are One with the Father-Mother, Infinite Power. Oneness, in other words, is the supreme teaching of the universe.

Marriage affirms a corollary precept: that love is the essence of truth and of reality. Love is the elemental divine impulse that put into motion the creation of the universe and it is to love that consciousness aspires in its long journey through time and space and endless seeming incarnations from lower life forms to the human form.

Love is the answer, the solution. Love it is that procreates: whether human children, acts of kindness, of enthusiastic creativity in arts, science, and all worthwhile human endeavors.

Some couples are, of course, of a lower consciousness and the most they can make of this impulse is to hold a bacchanalian orgy of loud music, guffaws, hard drinking, and all the innuendo around what follows. This false and fantasized lower form of bliss is inevitably paid for with the coin of the realm of our health, vitality, and happiness and returns to them in time with boredom, bitterness, disillusionment and, all too often, divorce.

Other couples, perhaps more sober and mature, see sacredness in their lives as limited to ceremonies of marriage, funerals and perhaps baptisms, but otherwise live their lives unaware or unaffected by their few minutes of religious traditional rites. Their marital affirmation is a pale affirmation and a fleeting vision of spiritual beauty just like a wedding dress which, though ethereal and shimmering with beauty and promise, is worn but once and then put into the closet for decades.

At Ananda, we have a beautiful wedding ceremony that is truly sacred and affirms the highest ideals of soul union with God and divine friendship with each other. Visitors and guests consistently remark on the universality, the poetic and visual beauty of the vows, rituals and music, and the sacredness they feel during the ceremony. We use the symbols of nature (earth, water, fire and air) to affirm our connection with all life and with the qualities these elements invite us to express: loyalty, adaptability, non-attachment and wisdom. The couple consecrates their partnership by affirming their love for God and that the love they feel for each other should be corollary expression of God's love, retaining the unselfish purity of God's unconditional love.

Just because we are as yet imperfect in realization of our spiritual ideals doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't affirm them, indeed, declare them with friends, family and congregation as witnesses and in those who wish to add their sincere blessings as a free gift. A spiritual marriage (I have earlier written on this subject: August 2014: Human Love: Delusion or Doorway to Heaven?) is one that strives to see the highest in one another and to serve and share in divine friendship. True friendship is practical and serviceful, one to the other; it is self-giving and self-sacrificing, even while remaining centered within and free from expectations of reciprocity. (A high bar of attainment, I grant you.) A spiritual marriage is founded in respect and a love born of the unconditional love which is innate to our soul's nature.

Tomorrow Padma and I are officiants at a wedding of dear friends who strive to live by these ideals and who seek the blessing of friends and family and the blessings of God through Christ and the Masters of Self-realization.

Marriage will survive for a long time to come! It will do so for reasons not generally clearly understood but deeply felt because true.

Blessings and joy to our friends and to all,

Nayaswami Hriman