Dhan pir ayheh n aakheen behan eikathay hoeh
They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together.
Ayk jot dueh mooratee dhan pir kehee-eh soeh
They alone are called husband and wife who have one light in two bodies. ||3||
– Guru Amar Das Ji – Siri Guru Granth Sahib page 788
“One light!” What a powerful intention Guru Amar Das has shown us – two people so deeply united in consciousness that their inner light merges to become one light, one “jot”. There are some, perhaps because they are on a spiritual path, who hold this as a primary goal in their marriage. And then there are those who may only hold this goal subconsciously – as an un-noticed agenda in their psyche. But if you are attempting to achieve this consciously and deliberately, then how do you navigate through all the challenges that show up in contemporary relationships?
Every relationship goes through different stages. In the early stage of a relationship you are usually blinded by infatuation. Often, you have not clearly defined or discussed the intentions in the relationship and our fantasies get in the way of being able to understand what is real. A storybook relationship is something that many of us think we want but when it comes down to it, we find that it isn’t how things really work out.
Often, what we find is that each of us brings to the relationship some things that are positive, but we also bring some things that can be negative. Initially we may be unable to see these things and have limited ability to work them out. But when two people can share a common spiritual center, it acts like a keel to stabilize the relationship, moving in the right direction; allowing any conflicts to be worked out directly or indirectly.
In the Sikh Wedding Ceremony, the “Anand Karaj”, the bride and groom walk together four times around the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, establishing the Guru’s wisdom as their spiritual center. As they walk they listen to the words of the “Laavan”. These Divine words remind the couple that they are declaring that their love expressed to each other is actually love of the Divine, as manifested in their Guru. These four rounds help the couple understand the higher intention that they are accepting into their relationship – defining their shared spiritual values.
“Marriage is a commitment between you and God, not between you and another person.” – Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan
The declaring of shared spiritual values is a very powerful beginning to a relationship. The walking of the four rounds also declares a commitment to the intention to hold a balance with each other and a balance with the Divine. It is this Commitment that will bind the two of you more closely together than the mere attraction or love that drew you together. Attraction fades and love must be continuously renewed. Simply holding to the commitment of marriage, with all your heart and soul, can overcome so many tests and trials that inevitably arise.
The day that I proposed to my wife I spent most of the day frantically reading Sukhmani Sahib (Peace Lagoon, in English), trying to find a sense of inner peace and the courage to step into the commitment that I was being called to. When I came upon a passage that seemed to speak to my lack of courage, I would re-read it, over and over. I knew in my soul what I needed to do but I was afraid that I might be wrong – perhaps I was not deserving of a partnership based on shared spiritual values and dedicated to a life of service. Even if I deserved that, was it really what I should do?
In fact, there was another suitor for my wife’s hand. He and my wife were to meet with Siri Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan that evening to get his blessing. I got this feeling that I should be there – I wasn’t clear why. That night, she was there, I was there, but the other guy never showed up. Waiting there with her, I realized that events had been arranged so that I would step into this commitment of marriage. How could I stand up to the power that had arranged so many details so that I would be there to pop the question? She and I had been brought together by Divine guidance. That recognition in that moment allowed each of us to make a commitment – not just to each other, but to the path we saw before us and to the power of aligning with that Divine will.
“Marriage is a carriage of taking responsibility and reaching up to Infinity.” – Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan
We all may endeavor to find purpose in our life. One purpose in life can be to serve humanity; to uplift others, to manifest the actions of a saint in this life. In marriage we can find purpose by supporting each other to serve humanity. Through our own positive efforts, meditative practice and prayer we aspire to attract a person to marry who has the purity in their soul to be a saint in this life. Another purpose in getting married can be to bring a child into this life who can serve humanity. Through our joint efforts and spiritual work together we, as parents, aspire to attract the soul of a child who will become such a saint.
But how do you find out if someone is the right person for us to marry? Communication! You have to talk honestly and candidly about what each of you hold to be core beliefs and core values. Do you have the same vision of how you want to live – what is important and what isn’t? The passion of your initial attraction or infatuation may seem to overcome differences at the first, but over time deep differences can become huge road blocks in your relationship.
Once we have started down the road in relationship, how do we get past the inevitable road bumps in the relationship? Communication! You have to stay in continuous communication with each other about what is going on inside you. You have to keep sharing your dreams, your fears and your challenges. You have to know the pulse of the other’s heart to keep the relationship truly alive. People change over time. Therefore you have to keep checking in with each other on the big things. There will be times when each person may need some space, some quiet. But don’t let it go too long. Reach out to the other person. Make an effort to draw them out.
What is the most important quality that we build with all this talking? Trust! Trust is something that takes time to build. It is an essential part of a healthy and strong relationship. Without it, there can be no love. Once you have established trust, you have to be diligent to never put it in doubt. To re-build trust, once it has been lost, takes much more effort than the establishment of trust in the first place, assuming that it can be re-built. Trust may be built over many years in a relationship but it can be shattered with just one wrong word. As with most things in life, communication is about choices – the choices of the words we use. Making the right choices is what usually signifies maturity. But we can continue to make poor choices our whole life. The one tool I have learned that helps me with this is to pause before responding. Take a breath! Don’t just jump in when you are not clear. Better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing.
In our youth we don’t often think about our own need to have support. The youthful vitality we have gives us a feeling of invincibility. But over time, in a strong and healthy relationship, you come to see just how important support can be. Whenever you have a doubt, your spouse is there to consult with and to reassure you. Whenever you feel weakness, they are there to give you a hand or encouragement. This giving and receiving establishes a shared field of knowing. As you extend your support to your spouse, you expand your sense of self – understanding through the other’s experiences and feelings.
The creation and maintenance of a unified spiritual relationship takes time and effort. There will be times of Sahej (ease) and Sukh (bliss) but there will also be times of Haumai (egotism) and Dukh (pain). You will learn the importance of paying into your savings account of goodness to help you make it through the times of difficulty. Finding creative ways to spend time together in some form of spiritual practice (morning sadhana, evening meditation, etc) will definitely build strength in the relationship. It is my experience, that after more than 40 years married to each other, my wife and I still cherish the time we can spend together in spiritual practice each day. We each may have our individual practice time also, but it is clear to us that the need to plan to spend quality time together, talking, sharing and meditating is still essential to being able to hold to our Commitment – holding on for another 40 years!
“Your head may fall, but never let go of the other’s hand.” – Siri Singh Sahib, Yogi Bhajan