Monogamy, Polyamory, Polyandry; such sensitive topics for so many people.
Many of us have had our hearts broken by infidelity; for others, open relationships are a delight. Setting aside judgment and suspending beliefs about whether one or the other is moral and ethical, right or wrong, leaves an open doorway for discussion and exploration.
How and why people engage in various types of relationships comes down to one essential element:
What is your living intention for experiencing the fullness of life ?
Some people wish to know the truth of existence and travel a spiritual path, while others are pure materialists and wish to know the pleasures of the body. Most people I know are a combination of these spectrums. But there is one simple truth to every living human being: we are all in relationship.
Whether we are relating to God, the source of all creation, to our own self or our beliefs and attitudes, or to the people in our life, they all based on relationship dynamics. The perceptions and ways of relating to one area of life, one person or a thing are the exact same perceptions and ways of relating to other areas of life, things, people and the source of all existence.
Relationships are key to the practice of yoga
For persons on the spiritual path, many turn to yoga and tantric practices to discover the truth of existence, to know who they are and to deepen their relationships. A common and accurate perception is that peace comes from knowing oneself. But this serene state of yoga has many challenges, and to know yoga is a scientific process of experimental discovery—a journey of trial-and-error, an exploration of the light and shadow of the self, and how one relates within, where sometimes things go boom and sometimes eureka!
Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodaha is stated in the second sutra of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. This classic source of all things yoga says that yoga happens when the actions of the mind ceases. It then goes on to describe how the mind can become agitated and how it may be polished into enlightened equanimity.
The simple premise is that actions, attitudes, beliefs and relationships which calm and nurture us lead us to understanding yoga, and that which causes stress is not yoga.
Two of the prominent figures in yoga are Shiva and Shakti
Shiva is described as the Lord of Yoga and Parvati is his mate, the Lady of Yoga. They lived on a mountain top for 10,000 years, and are still lovers, here and now. That is a long time to remain monogamous. How is it that the Lord and Lady of Yoga are monogamous ? How could they be so enamored with one another and also be spiritually enlightened ?
By steadiness and concentration on the one.
Sutra 1: 32 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states: Tat Pratisedhartham Eka Tattva-Bhyasah. It translates to mean that it is in the concentration on a single subject, one technique, one relationship that the obstacles of yoga are prevented. It means to adhere to one path and to discover fully what it means, including all subtleties and intimacies.
When relationships are explored to know the truth of love, existence and creation, that relationship becomes a tantric practice. And when you know and love one person fully, the attitude and feeling of love expands to all beings.
To find water, dig one well deep
A metaphor my yoga guru would share often was that if you want to find water, you must dig one hole deep to strike water. If you dig many holes hoping to find water, you will be thirsty, exhausted, with a field full of holes and no water to quench your thirst. It is the same with relationships, with yoga practices and the spiritual journey. When you find that One—be it a person, spiritual practice, or truth within—adhere with all heart and spirit, and the deepest yearnings of the soul will be satiated.
All the obstacles to self-discovery will arise with intimacy
As we relate to others, we also relate to our own self. And sometimes the best way to see who we are is to love another. Love relationships are not always happy fields filled with hopping bliss-bunnies. Most often, those bliss-bunnies break legs, and happiness fades into anger, disappointment, judgment and blame. It is too easy to blame the other for pushing our buttons and we often expel the button-pusher rather than remove the button within.
In yielding pride and removing the buttons that cause us to react; in becoming selfless for the other, we simultaneously relinquish the separative patterns, beliefs and actions that cause harm to oneself. Without the other—when Shiva doesn’t have Parvati—the self-image is difficult to see. And without being able to self-observe, the process of self-discovery and spiritual journey cannot take place.
Yoga does not make an ethical stance for or against monogamy or polyamory.
But it does call attention to the intention of what you will you do with the time given during this life. The intentions and desires a person cultivates will result in the consequences of their own life. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali clearly states that if you want to know yoga, stay with one path, one relationship and the obstacles to yoga will be removed.
How you relate to yourself, to love and the intimate other, to god and all creation, with all its subtleties, will be revealed through commitment and focused intention. The rest of the journey comes down to personal integrity, devotion, and if love is present or not.
What kind of life do you want to experience ?
It is your choice.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Bryonie Wise