Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 98 - Yoga and Marriage
Date: Wed Jan 28, 2004 0:35pm
Q: Can a person get married and still practice meditation and attain the ‘goal’? How does marriage help/disturb the spiritual growth of a person?
A: Marriage is not necessarily incompatible with spiritual practice. Marriage can be an important part of spiritual practice, for it can help us grow into a life of loving service. The sexual aspect need not be a deterrent either. It all depends on how you approach it. The previous lesson on tantra begins the discussion on this subject.
I am married with grown children, and deeper into practices than ever, finding life filled with joy. The greatest challenge that marriage and raising a family places on spiritual practices is the need to provide for everyone and then make the time for practices too. It takes a strong commitment, a lot of bhakti. There are many rewards if one can manage to do it all. Some may prefer to focus only on their spiritual life. This is not so simple either. Renunciates can become ingrown and narrow in their outlook, with little regard for others, and stunted in their spiritual progress even while doing many yoga practices. Service to “a family” of some sort is necessary to keep the heart and spiritual progress growing. The family may be our neighbor who needs help, our spouse and children, our community, or all of humanity. A joining of some sort that connects us to others in service is important. If it is marriage, that is great. If it is not that, then something that puts us in a position of having some responsibility to help someone other than ourselves.
If we are helping others, we are helping ourselves. It is the oldest wisdom in the scriptures.
Ultimately, spiritual progress is less dependent on our external environment than on our internal environment. This is why meditation is first. It goes right to the source and immediately begins building the right internal environment — pure silent bliss consciousness. Then we should go and do something with this inner silent quality. We will be wise to take our pure bliss consciousness and give it to the world in some form of service. Then we are like a channel, and the pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy come up through us going out to others.
With a commitment to developing the internal environment, all external environments become natural fields of service, which is also practice. It is called karma yoga, the yoga of action in loving service. Karma yoga isn’t something that can be forced into happening. It just happens as the spirit expands inside. All of yoga is connected like that. All of life is connected like that. We are One, expressing as many.
So, let’s do advanced yoga practices and come out of our meditation room and consider how to help someone. We will be helping ourselves.
The guru is in you.