Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on November 17, 2014

I thought I was done with this theme, but apparently not. In these blogs, I try to present ideas that I find valuable and that I imagine might be value to you as well. Here is one that is invaluable if you can make sense out of it. It is about why marriage is sacred to us.

In the major forms of Vajrayana Buddhism, which include the Tibetan Buddhist lineages and some of the Zen Buddhist lineages, of course there is the goal of eventual enlightenment. We all know that. What is not so clear is that there is an intermediate stage before enlightenment, when we first get the general idea of how we personally can go about enabling our own enlightenment, and take the first real steps toward it.

This stage is called "Recognition" by the Tibetan Buddhists and "Kensho" by the Zen Buddhists. Recognition is not enlightenment or anything close to it. As its name suggests, it is simply the recognition of the true nature of the mind, or at least a glimpse of it. It is realizing how the mind actually works and, equally important, that you can work it. At the point of recognition we have everything that we need.

Recognition of the true nature of the mind can really happen only once, because it is just that, a recognition, a form of realization. Sometimes in the tradition the analogy that is used is that of a coiled rope in a room with little light. For all the world the rope looks like a snake, and to someone coming into the room, they actually see a snake. However, once they have a little more light, they see that it is just a piece of rope, That recognition is a realization. A realization is a one-way trip, meaning that once we realize we are looking at a rope, we don't and can't go back to seeing it as a snake. That is what recognition is like. And that is a traditional analogy.

I use another analogy to indicate what recognition is, one that came naturally to me. We have all seen those picture-paintings, where embedded within one picture is another picture, but it is carefully hidden. You can't see it unless it is pointed out. But once it is pointed out, we can always see the hidden picture whenever we look. That is recognition, which is a form of realization.

The great siddhas and mahasiddhas go even further. They say that there are many dharmas and many teachers of those dharmas. But for any one of us, there is only one teacher who will first successfully point out to us the true nature of the mind. And this is called your Tsawi Lama or root guru. It only happens once, because, as I explained, it is a realization and not just another experience or an intellectual understanding.

The siddhas go on to say that once your root guru has pointed out to you the true nature of the mind, and you have seen it, his or her job is essentially done. At that point you have what you need to proceed on to enlightenment under your own steam, and on a path that only you can know and follow. Hopefully, with these words you can understand what a "Realization" is and why it happens only once. And that's not the end of my message here.

There is one more analogy for you to take in, and it’s a doozy. Love relationships are like this, especially the love relationship that leads to full engagement, and then on to marriage. When we meet the one we will marry, we recognize them differently from other relationships that we have had. In fact, this too is a realization, one that can only happen once.

And the person with whom we have this realization is the one that was permitted (in this life) to bring us to the recognition that this is the one we want to marry. It can only happen once because, as I have been careful to point out here, it is a recognition (a realization) and not just another one of our relationship experiences.

Of course, some of us will have many lovers and even many marriage partners. That is not what I am pointing at here. I am suggesting that no matter how many lovers you have, there is only one that first brought you to the realization that led to full engagement, which then led to your marriage, just as a virgin is only a virgin once.

If you follow my argument then you know why some faiths don't recognize divorce as a reality. Of course divorce is a legal reality. But you can't un-realize a realization. That is what the Catholic Church is saying when they don't recognize divorce, and this is why divorces are like a third wheel. Along with those who are single and those who are married, there are those who are divorced, but still married in a sense. You can't walk back a realization.

I am not saying that all that passes for engagement, marriage, and divorce in this modern world are pure. But I am saying that if you have had the realization of a beloved that leads to marriage, then that realization is pure, is sacred to you, no matter what happens next or later. You may stay married or you may divorce, but in a very real way the divorcee is still married and always will be. They are no longer a virgin spiritually, so to speak. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

The logic of the above analogy has very little wiggle-room. Of course you are welcome to ignore it, if you can. Yet if you investigate and test this out for yourself, I believe you will agree with me.

So when they say that marriage is a sacrament and is sacred, this view backs that up 100%. With that having been said, if we are married and run on hard times, one of the things we can do is to remember our vows, and the moment in our life when we too them. And here what I mean about vows is not just the words "I do" that occur in most marriage vows, but the rather the "I do" that confirmed the realization that each of us had (or should have had) when we first meet the one who we are destined to marry. For me it was mor like "I do. I do. I do." And I did.

As to how this realization of our destined partner can appear, I only have my story to tell, and I told it several blogs back, the one called "Love and Compassion."

Now, before I get a flurry of dissent, I am not saying that everything we know that happens in modern marriages, re-marriages, divorces, and so on does not happen (because it does) or that this is "bad." What occurs to me is that there is an archetype-realization that does happen, just as there is a major realization in the Buddhist mind-training methods called "Recognition." Realization is a permanent imprint in the mindstream, not just another experience.

For myself, I found it very informative to go back to the realization I had when I realized I wanted to marry Margaret, and saw that was very pure. Some 43 years into marriage, the road gets dusty and sometimes dim. What I have found is that the Tibetan mind-training methods are incredibly valuable for removing some of the obscurations and obstacles to a happy marriage, at least ours. Margaret and I both work on removing these obstacles using the Tibetan Buddhist methods every day.

So, let's discuss this, probably-not-so-popular view of mine.