Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Spiritual Intimacy

by Swami Rama

[This passage has been taken from the book Love and Family Life by Swami Rama, published in 1992 by the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA].

From the beginning of history there have been two major paths that people have taken in life in order to seek the goal of a deeper happiness and peace. A few sincere souls have decided to genuinely renounce the world’s attractions in order to attain the highest wisdom. The path of renunciation actually means not keeping or possessing anything for oneself. Instead, these wise ones serve others, knowing that by doing so they are utilizing their time and energy in the best way. Living their lives in service to others is the characteristic by which you will recognize them.

Most people, however, still experience strong and compelling attractions to many things. They want to fulfil the desires for marriage, parenthood, and the conventional life. Thus, there is a second path, which is travelled by most people in the world, called the path of action. Throughout history, there has been confusion about which of these paths is superior.

A story is told to help clarify this confusion. Once, an arrogant swami, who had meditated in the mountains for many years, boasted about his spiritual advancement, thinking that he was superior to householders. He came down from the mountains to exhibit the powers he had gained in his studies. He had such a powerful gaze that if he looked at a bird flying overhead, its wings would catch fire and burn, and the bird would fall to the ground. He was very egotistical about his supposed spiritual power.

Eventually in his travels, he came to the home of a couple and he said rudely to the woman, “I want food, and I have no time to waste. It is your duty to feed me because I devote all my time to the Lord.”
The woman, who was serving her husband’s dinner at the time, said to him quietly but firmly, “Right now, I am doing my duty toward my husband lovingly, but don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that I am as powerless as that bird you have killed! I have far more power than you; if you think you can hurt me you are mistaken!”

The swami was stunned to realize that she had acquired the power to know many things about him while she was still living in the world, doing her duties as a wife. He fell at her feet and said, “Mother, clearly I have yet to understand the path of the world. Now I see that it, too, is a great path.”

But the swami was not unusual; many people do not realize the power of family life. This is a path of living in the world, loving others, and also seeking and attaining the highest wisdom. Some people who want to follow the spiritual path are not content with their lives in the world. They do not appreciate how the path of marriage and parenthood helps them to fulfil life’s ultimate purpose.

The path of a human being is not meant to be that of a loner who travels through life by himself or herself. If we want to express the meaning of life in a single sentence, it is that life means having relationships. Without relationships, life has no significance at all. The closest relationship in the world is that between a wife and husband, and the next most intimate relationship is that between parents and children.
Sometimes people wonder why the institution of the family was established. Marriage and family relationships do not exist merely because of the biological necessities of sex or childbirth. There is something deeper, which is responsible for the establishment of family life and which differentiates humans from animals. The most basic urges and drives that influence human life are also found throughout the animal kingdom, but there is an important difference between human beings and animals: the life and behaviour of animals are primarily controlled by the forces of nature and instinct; but the life of a human being is not controlled this way. Instead, human beings are controlled mostly by mind, emotions, and by relationships. A human being thinks, understands, communicated, and participates in life in ways that animals cannot share. All these special qualities originate in the institution of the family. The family exists in order to foster and cultivate these qualities in human beings.

When the human race learns to live as a family, then the world will finally attain the next stage of civilization and enlightenment. Families are meant to be centres of love, which radiate their love outward to other families. A family is meant to radiate only love, rather than hatred, jealousy, competition, or other negative emotions. When people understand this purpose and can share the experience, then they can create joy and peace throughout society. When peace reigns, there will no longer be hatred or disturbances between people, and the human mind will automatically be led upward, towards the highest centre of consciousness.

The path of marriage and family life is not inferior to any other path, nor is marriage meant solely to express our biological or emotional needs. The purpose of marriage is to establish and teach the fundamental principles of society, so that all children can develop fully and the entire society can eventually attain a state of peace and happiness.

Homes are meant to be places where people create and preserve a state of serenity and peace. Homes exist to establish peace, so that every person can learn to radiate and share love. Our homes can satisfy many of our emotional needs and help us to learn to open our hearts. Homes are not places to create power struggles or ego battles. They are not places to demonstrate or show off our intellect. Some people use their mind and emotions in their homes destructively, arguing, judging others, or trying to establish control over others to satisfy their ego needs. That does not help us achieve the full potential of a home. When homes provide children with a chance to receive love and enjoy the experience of being loved, then children learn to share their love with others as well.

We all need to learn how to live in our homes and also how to live in the world outside the home. There are two different principles or concepts in life: You talk to your spouse and your business colleagues in different ways and on different levels. When you talk to your business associates, it is wise to be thoughtful and consider your doubts first, examining what people say carefully so that you protect yourself before you act. But at home, you should not maintain this attitude of scepticism, doubt or self-protectiveness. At home, you can express yourself openly and spontaneously; you can be completely yourself. In the family, you can develop a deep trust and intimacy that are not usually possible in the world outside. This is possible when we respect the special role of marriage in our lives.



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