The foundation of spiritual relationships

As long as we base our relationships on mundane issues such as the need for space, need for recognition, need for affection and so on, our life remains a compromise and an accommodation with others.   As long as we favour creature comforts such as the desire to make (more and more) money, to travel, to chat, to eat well, etc., we stagnate with people who live an aimless life.  Two egos bound together will remain two egos if the principles by which they live are not changed.  It is only those who are united in their aspiration to live to the highest ideals who can grow psychologically and spiritually through life.  Therefore, the best way to have happy relationships is to organize one’s life around high ideals and find someone who wishes to live up to those  same ideals.   Undoubtedly, there will still be conflicts but these will have to be resolved in favour of high ideals rather than personal predilections.   There is no right answer here.  Life has to be lived to discover the Truth.   These are some observations by the Mother Mirra Alfassa on this topic, which are worth reflecting upon.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

The ascending levels at which a relationship can be lived

In this passage, the Mother Mirra Alfassa outlines the ascending levels at which a marriage can be lived.

To unite your physical lives, your material interests, to become partners in order to face together the difficulties and successes, the defeats and victories of life that is the very foundation of marriage, but you already know that it is not enough.

To be united in your sensations, to have the same aesthetic tastes and enjoyments, to be moved in common by the same things, one through the other and one for the other that is good, that is necessary, but it is not enough.

To be one in your deeper feelings, to keep a mutual affection and tenderness that never vary in spite of all the blows of life and can withstand every weariness and irritation and disappointment, to be always and on every occasion happy, extremely happy, to be together, to find in every circumstance tranquillity, peace and joy in each other that is good, that is very good, that is indispensable, but it is not enough.

To unite your minds, to harmonise your thoughts and make them complementary, to share your intellectual preoccupations and discoveries; in short, to make your sphere of mental activity identical through a widening and enrichment acquired by both at once that is good, that is absolutely necessary, but it is not enough.

Beyond all that, in the depths, at the centre, at the summit of the being, there is a Supreme Truth of being, an Eternal Light, independent of all the circumstances of birth, country, environment, education; That is the origin, cause and master of our spiritual development; it is That which gives a permanent direction to our lives; it is That which determines our destinies; it is in the consciousness of That that you must unite. To be one in aspiration and ascension, to move forward at the same pace on the same spiritual path, that is the secret of a lasting union.

The Mother, Words of the Mother – II: Marriage and Children

Photo: Triumph of Galatea by Raphael. The painting celebrates the triumph of ideal or Platonic love. Click image for source.

Choosing between human love and Divine love

(Those who are drawn to a spiritual life are expected to survive by Divine Love but, being human, they also possess a residual desire for human love.  This creates a quandary where one has to chose between two extremes.  In this passage, the Mother points out that the best way to resolve this dilemma is to go behind the appearance of human love and transmute it – to make it pure and impersonal – and grow out of it.)

Question.  It is said that to become conscious of divine Love all other love has to be abandoned. What is the best way of rejecting the other love which clings so obstinately [laughter] and does not easily leave us?

Mother:  To go through it.  To go through, to see what is behind it, not to stop at the appearance, not to be satisfied with the outer form, to look for the principle which is behind this love, and not be content until one has found the *origin* of the feeling in oneself. Then the outer form will crumble of itself and you will be in contact with the divine Love which is behind all things.

That is the best way.  To want to get rid of the one in order to find the other is very difficult.  It is almost impossible. For human nature is so limited, so full of contradictions and so exclusive in its movements that if one  wants to reject love in its lower form, that is to say, human love as human beings experience it, if one makes an inner effort to reject it, one usually rejects the entire capacity of feeling love and becomes like a stone. And then sometimes one has to wait for years or centuries before there is a reawakening in oneself of the capacity to receive and manifest love.

Therefore, the best way when love comes, in whatever form it may be, is to try and pierce through its outer appearance and find the divine principle which is behind and which gives it existence. Naturally, it is full of snares and difficulties, but it is more effective. That is to say, instead of ceasing to love because one loves wrongly, one must cease to love wrongly and want to love well.

For instance, love between human beings, in all its forms, the love of parents for children, of children for parents, of brothers and sisters, of friends and lovers, is all tainted with ignorance, selfishness and all the other defects which are man’s ordinary drawbacks; so instead of completely ceasing to love – which, besides, is very difficult as Sri Aurobindo says, which would simply dry up the heart and serve no end – one must learn how to love better: to love with devotion, self-giving, self-abnegation, and to struggle, not against love itself, but against its distorted forms: against all forms of monopolising, of attachment, possessiveness, jealousy, and all the feelings which accompany these main movements. Not to want to possess, to dominate; and not to want to impose one’s will, one’s whims, one’s desires;  not to want to take, to receive, but to give; not to insist on the other’s response, but be content with one’s own love; not to seek one’s personal interest and joy and the fulfilment of one’s personal desire, but to be satisfied with the giving of one’s love and affection; and not to ask for any response. Simply to be happy to love, nothing more.

If you do that, you have taken a great stride forward and can, through this attitude, gradually advance farther in the feeling itself, and realise one day that love is not something personal, that love is a universal divine feeling which manifests through you more or less finely, but which in its essence is something divine.

The first step is to stop being selfish. For everyone, it is the same thing, not only for those who want to do yoga but also in ordinary life: if one wants to know how to love, one must not love oneself first and above all selfishly; one must give oneself to the object of love without exacting anything in return. This discipline is elementary in order to surmount oneself and lead a life which is not altogether gross.

As for yoga, we may add something else: it is as I said in the beginning, the will to pierce through this limited and human form of love and discover the principle of divine Love which is behind it. Then one is sure to get a result. This is better than drying up one’s heart. It is perhaps a little more difficult but it is better in every way, for like this, instead of egoistically making others suffer, well, one may leave them quiet in their own movement and only make an effort to transform oneself without imposing one’s will on others, which even in ordinary life is a step towards something higher and a little more harmonious.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1956): 19 September 1956

Above all, seek refuge in Divine Love alone

Finally, there is one thing which must be learned in life (and it is a difficult lesson for sure) and that is to understand that all human beings are imperfect.  As long as one relies on the love of others, one risks disappointment and more at some future stage.  One has to firmly set anchor in the Divine alone as the Mother points out here.

There is one thing you must learn, never to rely on anyone or anything whatever except the Divine. For if you lean upon anyone for support, that support will break, you may be sure of that. From the minute you start doing yoga (I always speak of those who do yoga, I do not speak about ordinary life), for those who do yoga, to depend upon someone else is like wanting to transform that person into a representative of the Divine Force; now you may be sure there is not one in a hundred million who can carry the weight: he will break immediately. . . .Never seek a support elsewhere than in the Divine. Never seek satisfaction elsewhere than in the Divine. Never seek the satisfaction of your needs in anyone else except the Divine – never, for anything at all.  All your needs can be satisfied only by the Divine.  All your weaknesses can be borne and healed only by the Divine.  He alone is capable of giving you what you need in everything, always, and if you try to find any satisfaction or support or help or joy or… heaven knows what, in anyone else, you will always fall on your nose one day, and that always hurts, sometimes even hurts very much.”

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 5 May 1951

See Also

  1. Four stages in human love
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23 thoughts on “The foundation of spiritual relationships

  1. ipsa

    Pranab Da, disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, on marriage:

    “Marriage is like gambling. Like buying a lottery ticket. Lakhs of people buy a ticket but only two or three win a prize among them. The others lose all their money. There is a story that in former times the creator had created husband and wife in one body. Every one was very happy. Everyone was so happy that even the gods could not equal human happiness. So one day the Creator got a little jealous. He then separated man and woman from one body. So they remained half each. From then on every man and woman has been looking for the other half during their life. Nobody is able to find the other half that corresponds and so each one is unhappy. If the corresponding other half is found then there is happiness.

    When I came to the Ashram for the first time in 1942, Chimanbhai had already settled here. He was married and his wife and mother lived in his hometown. The mother cried so much for her son that she became blind and his wife’s health deteriorated out of sorrow.

    One day Chimanbhai while telling me about his inner anguish said:

    “Pranab, if ever you plan come to the Ashram, do not get married.”

    The one who walks on the spiritual path doesn’t know what his fate will be, how his life will unfold. How can one take the responsibility of another person’s life? It is very painful both for oneself and for the person one marries.

    Then when I came back to settle in the Ashram, after a long time I told Chimanbhai:

    “Chimanbhai, do you remember, you had told me that if I wished to come to the Ashram I should not get married. Well, I didn’t get married.”

    Chimanbhai heard me and then asked:

    “Do you have any regrets?”‘

    Everyone laughed after hearing Pranab-da say this.

    Then Pranab-da recited an amusing folk-rhyme about a chacha (an uncle) who had just got married. He was thrilled in the beginning as he sang with joy: ”

    source: (Pranab Bhattacharya, By The Way, Part III, p 38)

    Reply
  2. Sandeep Post author

    A few lines from Savitri outlining how human relationships can go wrong

    When love breaks suddenly into the life
    At first man steps into a world of the sun;
    In his passion he feels his heavenly element:
    But only a fine sunlit patch of earth
    The marvellous aspect took of heaven’s outburst;
    The snake is there and the worm in the heart of the rose.
    A word, a moment’s act can slay the god;
    Precarious is his immortality,
    He has a thousand ways to suffer and die.
    Love cannot live by heavenly food alone,
    Only on sap of earth can it survive.
    For thy passion was a sensual want refined,
    A hunger of the body and the heart;
    Thy want can tire and cease or turn elsewhere.
    Or love may meet a dire and pitiless end
    By bitter treason, or wrath with cruel wounds
    Separate, or thy unsatisfied will to others
    Depart when first love’s joy lies stripped and slain:
    A dull indifference replaces fire
    Or an endearing habit imitates love:
    An outward and uneasy union lasts
    Or the routine of a life’s compromise:
    Where once the seed of oneness had been cast
    Into a semblance of spiritual ground
    By a divine adventure of heavenly powers
    Two strive, constant associates without joy,
    Two egos straining in a single leash,
    Two minds divided by their jarring thoughts,
    Two spirits disjoined, for ever separate.
    Thus is the ideal falsified in man’s world;
    Trivial or sombre, disillusion comes,
    Life’s harsh reality stares at the soul:
    Heaven’s hour adjourned flees into bodiless Time.

    (Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book X, Canto II)

    Reply
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  5. mike

    That’s a good description of a dying marriage.
    ““Marriage is like gambling. Like buying a lottery ticket. Lakhs of people buy a ticket but only two or three win a prize among them. The others lose all their money. There is a story that in former times the creator had created husband and wife in one body. Every one was very happy. Everyone was so happy that even the gods could not equal human happiness. So one day the Creator got a little jealous. He then separated man and woman from one body. So they remained half each. From then on every man and woman has been looking for the other half during their life. Nobody is able to find the other half that corresponds and so each one is unhappy. If the corresponding other half is found then there is happiness.”

    And that’s a good description of Twinsouls.

    Reply
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  7. Sandeep Post author

    Marital Frustrations Channeled Through Thermostat

    DULUTH, MN—Continuing a decades-long pattern of displacement, Carl and Barb Kulick channeled their marital frustrations through their home’s Honeywell T87 manual-control thermostat Monday.

    “You should have heard Carl scream when he saw I turned the heat on today,” said the understimulated, affection-starved Barb, 62. “It was chilly, and our grandson Cory was over. There’s no reason for a 4-year-old boy to feel like he’s freezing to death, is there? I didn’t think so, but apparently, somebody around here thinks there is.”

    see more@
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/marital-frustrations-channeled-through-thermostat,212/

    Reply
  8. mike

    “If the corresponding other half is found then there is happiness”

    also:

    “Without a Shakti you can yourself be perfect, in the sense that you can attain full knowledge, power and Ananda and change your entire organised being into its divine nature, but when you want to throw your powers on the world for creation, it is different” SA.

    The implication seems to be that finding one’s Twinsoul or Shakti [what is the male version of a shakti? Would a woman say ‘my Shiva’?] will make us happy and more complete. Sri Aurobindo has spoken enough about this too, as quoted above.
    Am l wrong in thinking that having a Shakti [or whatever a woman’s twinsoul is called in yoga] is actually ESSENTIAL for the FULL manifestation of the Supramental [integral] Yoga at the physical level – this is the impression l get from Sri Aurobindo’s words. He seems to be saying that two souls joined in a Spiritual way [like Twinsouls are complentary other halves] are necessary for the Yoga to actually complete itself. l could be totally misguided here, though. lt’s just something that’s entered my head recently lol.
    This might be a future scenario for the Yoga, l suppose.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I think the case of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was a rare situation. In the vast majority of cases, one has to persevere alone to find the Light within.

      Reply
  9. mike

    Yes l agree. Twinsoul Avatars are extremely rare on this planet.
    The big question is, are we all destined [those involved in the Supramental Yoga at least] to manifest as Avatars at some stage. Does it imply that we will live in a world of Avatars one day. This is how it seems to me, otherwise the Yoga wouldn’t make sense – just my opinion, though.

    Reply
  10. mike

    “In the vast majority of cases, one has to persevere alone to find the Light within.”

    l think your right about that too, sandeep. l don’t think there are many who are consciously working together as complementary souls or Spiritual Partners. Quite a few claim to be so-called Light-Workers etc, but l’m very dubious about them. Very few are conscious enough to be working with the Divine Light and Truth IMO – but who knows, they could be everywhere for all l know.

    Reply
  11. ipi

    In marriage when things that irritate about the person one is married to, one if matures more in understanding, one will find out the little little things which one got irritated could have been avoided if one is humorous and accepting the fact that all have their thinking on life and many things can be made harmonious if one becomes little adjusting with the view that each one has their own view point and accomodating to their views and letting go the idea what one thinks is right can be refreshing to marriage and also even in major issues where one finds their view should be taken or carried out can happen if the partner is respected and valued and all are human and even if the partner is really does not seem to be listening one will see many transformations happening in due course of time of marriage being patient and caring but not going in the track of sacrificing as that has the drawback of more thinking one is giving up things.

    But after many years of marriage one finds out eventually the things as said things are not bad, they are just out of the place. With time people find the peace and the love and the things they dreamt and see that in their partner and find the person a jewel, to find the jewel or pearl need some work and results are sweet at the end after the hard work. Time is the key and so much maturity comes up, rather than fighting like ill-tempered monkeys, one finds serenity in understanding that we all are alike, we all are highly irritating, we all are quite selfish, so why be so mad and sad and fight for the same characteristics that we hold in ourselves, anywhere else also same characteristics will remain, so marriage is a school which teaches if you jump from one class to another school still lessons are same , things may be little different but God is no fool, lessons have to be learnt, all is inside us, if its not their why we are subjected to these lessons, there is something to learn, anyway all know this and sooner one admit that one is full of imperfections and not point finger on other but be patient and see in this vast thing what god wants me to learn, in silence if one learns things will fall into right place and home will be heaven if one becomes like a sage, if one can not then wherever one goes one will face with same lessons no matter what.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      thanks. Judging by these insights, marriage can also be seen as a stepping stone to philosophy 🙂

      Reply
      1. ipi

        Not philosophy at all, its reality, and it has a great connection to spirituality and spiritual life. Lord is watching , he or she is not fooled by how much books you have learnt, what you write or speak but what you are and what you are offering, even if one is not aware and one is pretty ordinary and live many years in ordinary manners there is a thing going on for soul evolution and that matters to Lord too much, she or he is looking at the life book of yours, pretty ordinary may be but lies a essence of your raw evolution.

    2. Mansee

      On Marriage
      Kahlil Gibran
      You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
      You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
      Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
      But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
      And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

      Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
      Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
      Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
      Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
      Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
      Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

      Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
      For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
      And stand together yet not too near together:
      For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
      And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

      Reply
      1. Mansee

        For me Khalil Gibran summed up the beauty of a life long companionship in these lines. I also like very much, what he wrote on Children in Prophet!

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