Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on November 16, 2014


Marriage is nothing to trifle with. It is some serious stuff. As the ministers often recite during the marriage ceremony, marriage "is not something to be entered into lightly, but rather reverently, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God." And I say "Amen" to that.

I like to point out that marriage is the most common form of yoga, which makes those of us who are married yoga practitioners, and I am not kidding. The word "Yoga" simply means to yoke or join together, unite, which is exactly what marriage does. So I am not joking when I point this out.

I understand why there is a civil ceremony for marriage, but I also feel it obscures to a degree the spiritual aspect of marriage, which really is important to recognize and keep in mind. In most cases, marriage reflects a deep inner change, which is what brings marriage about in the first place. Marriage is one of the main rites of passage that many of us go through in life. It is a spiritual event of the first order, and not just a civil occasion.

Those of us who are married may not be trained in meditation or other mind-training methods, but marriage itself is a very rigorous and through training of the mind, one that, as mentioned, is not to be entered into lightly. Marriage, like having children, puts us in a special group or club that those who have not had the experience cannot fully understand or share.

And there is some truth to the Catholic tradition of not allowing divorce. I wouldn't put it that way, but I would say that once marriage vows, like monks vows, are taken, they cannot be easily given back. Divorcees, IMO, exist in a special state of mind and can never go back to actually being single again. Something has changed that does not change back. Even the terminology like that engagement to be married is pointed.

What exactly is it to be engaged? It sounds to me pretty serious, engagement, and then marriage. As mentioned, I believe there really is no going back, no giving back the vows, no way of being single again as we were before we were married. There is a difference that remains with divorcees, which I am not going to argue about here, that those of you who have experienced this, must know.

My point, as mentioned earlier, is that there is more to marriage than a paper certificate. It is not just a civil ceremony, even if you imagine it is. There is a spiritual component that rightly makes marriage sacrosanct, in some way sacred. There is an inner spiritual change that takes place that is profound. The marriage ceremony is an outer sign of an inner transformation.

Marriage happens when two people, two persons, realize that they are already one, already united, "until death do us part," simply because marriage is a realization (or should be), and realizations are forever. They can't be walked back, but are a one-way street.

Use your own words, but those who are married somehow recognize that although they are two people, they are but one being; they are being together. They are one being (being one) with two personalities, and that each partner is responsible for not only their own person, but also for the person of their partner, their "beloved." The dewdrop slips into the shining sea and becomes inseparable. You can't get it back.

And getting married gives way to being married, and that is more than just a continuation of that first inspiration. A marriage has to learn to breathe, which means breathing in and out, up and down, and around. Obviously being married is more difficult than just getting married. The divorce statistics prove this. And this is not to mention the incredible struggles that often go on in most marriages trying to sort out, train, and manage the differences in personalities that are found. It is ungodly.

I say in all sincerity that marriage itself is a spiritual practice second to none (or equivalent to any), that, as the ceremony invokes, "is not to be entered into lightly." And the same mind-training methods that the Buddha pointed out, which are called the "dharma" are the best methods to use when practicing the yoga of marriage.

It is easy to be generous, civil, kind, and pleasant to a stranger, but incomprehensively more difficult to be so to those closest to us, who can see (and make us see) even the tiniest of our faults in the flawless mirror that marriage presents to us. I see how many dharma practitioners have set up their personal meditation shrine. There is the neatly placed cushion, perhaps a candle or some incense, whatever can create a sense of respect, a special space to practice in.

Our marriage deserves to be treated at least well, at least as special, for it is a practice we do every day, 24x7. There are no holidays from marriage, other than those times when we share its joys. And there is no scarcity of practice, because we practice all day, every day.

I have been married going on 43 years to the same woman, and what I say to myself is: get ready for the long haul. Make your cushion comfortable, light your candle, and clear your mind because marriage deserves all of this, and will require even more from us.

I understand that my words here can but scratch the surface of what is perhaps the most important dharma practice of all, at least for those of us who are married. And we have no choice by to practice, so we might as well practice as best we can and with all our heart.

And the same dharma practices that we do to further our enlightenment, we can bring to our marriage, because there is no difference. Because, in all sincerity, marriage can be (has to be) a complete practice, and the most common kind of yoga.

I am sure you have thoughts on this.