Across all religions there is a universal concept that when a man and woman marry with proper attitude they become one body. They don’t merge into each other’s existence, but it means that they start living for a common purpose—to serve God together.
–Principles for a Harmonious Marriage: Radhanath Swami
Although, this is not just another love story.
Well, it is, but that’s not the point.
The world is full of countless “love” stories. Elephant has a whole section devoted to them and it has grown by leaps and bounds. If I were a betting man, (and I’m not) I would guess that elephant love will surpass elephant yoga, (if it hasn’t already) in readership in the coming year(s).
I love “love,” don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent my life grasping for it. More often than not, I ended up broken.
I got to the point where “love” was the last thing I wanted. I was done. I’d had enough. No more for me.
As I said, I was done looking for someone who was going to fix me, or who I could fix. I was done looking for someone to complete me, or who I could complete. I was done looking for someone to “love” me, or who I could “love.”
I know it’s popular to say this. You hear it all the time, and then before you know it, the merry-go-round starts spinning. I don’t know why this happens. Maybe people just say it to make themselves feel better? I really don’t know and it’s not my place to judge. All I do know is that I meant it.
I know, this sounds just like all the other stories you’ve read, right? Well, I guess it would be, but for one simple fact.
My love began with a turn away from the mundane world of impermanent things and fly-by-night emotions. Love only came to me in the process of re-engaging in my relationship with the divine.
Giving up the endless search for “endless love,” doesn’t happen overnight. The universe abhors a vacuum. You can’t just stop wanting “love,” because love animates the entire universe at its core. And there is nothing more natural, or inherent in our being, than to seek that love, real love. But, you have to know where to look.
I was lucky. I stumbled on the right path without the slightest desire for love. I didn’t want anything from the world, or my God, other than to be engaged in His service. And that’s what I prayed for every day, over and over again.
Service is the foundation of bhakti yoga.
When you love someone, there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them. The highest expression we see of this is the love between a mother and a child. The mother will literally lie down her life to ensure the well-being of her child. Bhakti yoga is about re-establishing our relationship with our true selves by turning our complete focus to the divine, or God. It is a science dedicated to using our emotions, feelings and sentiments to lead us back to the place of the original love shared between the beloved and the lover.
And the amazing thing is, when you come from a place of seeking to align yourself with the will of the Supreme, everything else falls in place. In this way, yoga becomes so much more than the funny shapes you make with your body on the mat for an hour, or two a day, three days a week; it becomes your total life.
And speaking from personal experience, while it’s not always an easy life, it is the most beautiful, complete and joyful one I’ve experienced.
And so next Sunday, when my beloved walks down the aisle, I won’t just be thinking about our relationship in terms of “love,” (although that will be there); I will be thinking about it in terms of our union together and how our relationship will guide and fortify us on our paths of self-realization.
I leave you with these words on marriage from Radhanath Swami.
From a spiritual perspective one should feel that their partner is something more than just my husband or my wife. A husband should feel towards his wife that this is the daughter of God – this is God’s deeply beloved daughter that has been entrusted in my care. How you treat her is how God will receive you. How you speak to her, how you act toward her, how you protect her are all important. Protection is said to be on three levels – physical, emotional and spiritual. To give that protection, to be forgiving to each other and to honor your spouse as God’s property, God’s gift, is how you will make spiritual progress. And a wife should feel that her partner is not just her husband but he is God’s beloved child entrusted in her care to protect, to be faithful to, and to encourage. If you see each other in this light, marriage really is yoga. Your relationship will be yoga in essence and you will make great spiritual progress.
Marriage shouldn’t be just something that we are tolerating somehow or other because we took vows. It should be something very dynamic, very flowing and very real. It should be very connected to the Divine, so that the struggles are not just depressing—the struggles are spiritual challenges that we have to meet together and every time we overcome those challenges we come to a higher spiritual platform.
By following marriage in this way it becomes a path of perfection.
-On Marriage: Radhanath Swami
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