When Buz and I recently had the pleasure to serve as officiates in a marriage ceremony here in Myrtle Beach, it gave me an opportunity to once again reflect on the Path of marriage. As part of the ceremony, I was asked to read an excerpt from Baba’s beautiful discourse on marriage where He talks about the “immense spiritual possibilities in marriage when it is thoroughly determined by the vision of Truth.” This is the real wedding gift for Baba couples: a partnership grounded in Baba’s love, grounded in the One Guide who is the very source of Truth. From the start, if the awareness is there that Beloved Baba is the shared focus and source of guidance, that each partner can never really fulfill the needs of the other, then a wonderful balance can take place. While only a life grounded in God’s love will truly satisfy the longings of the soul, in marriage, we can help each other out!
As anyone who has experienced married life knows, it is a path fraught with challenges. Kitty often said to couples struggling with their marriages, “Baba loved challenges, obstacles. It is His way of working. He wants us to accept those challenges and work through them.” But how difficult this can be, given the many surprises life can throw at us!
I’ve found that it is not possible to fully meet those challenges without gradually developing a deeper and deeper trust in Baba. The development of trust in the Beloved appears to be one of those basic themes running through all aspects of the spiritual life. In marriage, it means learning to trust that He has brought my partner and me together to learn how to truly love – each other and Baba. To trust Baba means to trust that we are worthy of His love and our partner’s love. This means that I have to gradually develop not only Self-acceptance but also self-acceptance. The beauty inherent in marriage is that through experiencing the love and acceptance of our partner, we come to love and accept ourselves. And the more we can integrate and accept all the parts of ourselves Baba stirs up (even the nasty stuff!), the more we are capable of giving to our partner and to others. This in turn, by living a life of love and self-effacement in our marriage, leads to a path of Self-acceptance – where His voice becomes clearer and clearer in one’s heart.
What’s interesting to me is that in loving another human being, where God is the shared source of strength, we can become more and more ourselves. This means that each person becomes a more confident, strong individual, independent of your partner. The mandali are, of course the perfect examples of how becoming the slave of the Lord (in their case, married to the Lord), didn’t diminish their personalities,as they were each very strong individuals. But they were not ego centered in their individuality because each focused, in their own unique way, on pleasing Him not themselves. Francis Brabazon describes this process beautifully:
Together as a married couple you go to God, but God comes to each of you individually. Individuality is never lost; it is made perfect. The more you give of yourself to one another and to the true well-being of others, the sooner you will find the divine Beloved who is the One Self of all.
In practical terms this means that marriage requires the cultivation of a true respect for each other’s individuality and the expectation, that in love, each partner will change and grow in ways unforeseen. It also requires that each partner allows this natural change to happen freely without any takeover of one personality by the other.
And above all it requires a willingness to think things through together as life companions and as friends. This is no easy task, and certainly not for the faint hearted, but the joys of marriage with its warmth, consideration and humour are what makes life for the married couple worth living. (Francis Brabazon)
I think one of the most difficult tasks in marriage is to let go and give in. Daily, sometimes moment-to-moment, we are presented with an opportunity to let go and give in to our partner; often, in hindsight, what we are holding onto is pretty silly to begin with. The ego, maya is so powerful that it fights us every step of the way because it hears its own “death knell”, as Baba calls it. Our ego keeps us from trusting that, if we let go, we will be that much stronger in our love for our partner and for Baba. It is important, however, that we give in from a position of strength and love not fear. That strength comes from the knowledge that to give in would please Baba. Francis Brabazon used to say that Baba’s message was written on highway signs all over Australia: “Give Way.” (Yield! In US terms.)
Buz and I were given a very special gift at the start of our marriage. We went to India for our honeymoon (30 years ago!) and on our first day we were invited out to Meherazad for a walk with Eruch and early morning tea. We sat down at the table on the verandah on the men’s side and, before we could say anything, Eruch picked up the teapot and, looking at Buz, said, “Buz, you must say, ‘Wendy, dear, would you like some tea?’ and he pours tea in my cup. “Would you like some sugar, a biscuit?” Then, looking at me, he picked up Buz’s cup and said, “Wendy, you must say, ‘Buz, dear, may I serve you some tea? Would you like a biscuit?’ and he proceeds to fill Buz’s cup. This is how you must be with each other.” Eruch was smiling the whole time and, at first, we thought he was teasing us but as he went on miming the whole act of serving tea for one another, we realized that he meant for us to take heed of what he was doing. We felt he was setting an example for us of the importance of putting ourselves aside for the other. It was something to strive for in our relationship.
I think of Fred and Ella Winterfeldt and how Baba called them FredElla. Baba joined their names together because they were one in their love for Him. In speaking of marriage, Baba would make the gesture of two stones rubbing vigorously against each other until all the rough edges become smoothed out. In the same way, in marriage, it is through the grinding down of our egos that we learn, as Mehera would pray, how “to love Him as He should be loved, to please Him as He should be pleased”. This is the life worth living.