Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Marriage Dharma

Being married is somewhat like living in a monastery. Like a monk, you take vows to serve the institution for the rest of your life. And like the monastery, marriage is very hard to escape. Both monastic life and marriage can be extremely rewarding life paths, although not always an easy ones. 

Okay, now I don't want all my regular readers to assume that because I'm writing about marriage today that Kathy and I are having some kind of trouble. We're not. The love, respect, commitment, and adoration that was present at our wedding in June is still there, more so now than ever before.

Our marriage is founded on the premise that what we do with each other, and with marriage itself, is all about growth, both individually, and as a couple. We are committed to exploring the shadow realms of our unconscious when this material arises, and in doing so, integrate this material into conscious awareness. This re-integration of previously unconscious shadow material is what C.G. Jung called "individuation."

There is a classic book on the subject called Marriage: Dead or Alive by Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig that examines the path of individuation as the ultimate goal of marriage. Guggenbuhl-Craig shuns the notion that marriage exists as an means of achieving well-being, but more as a way of getting to the soul of the matter through individuation.

The path toward individuation is rough and full of potholes.The path of marriage, or any intimate relationship, can be the same difficult journey. Both, however, are rewarding. 

According to Guggenbuhl-Craig, "A marriage only works if one opens to exactly that which one would never ask for otherwise." In the same way, the path toward liberation in vipassana practice is an opening toward that which we may not normally ask for. We turn toward that which is, lean into it a bit, and then let it do its thing. This promotes an open-handed holding of a situation or event, rather than a closed-fisted clinging or pushing away of it. Holding all things in an open hand - including our relationships - will lead us eventually toward reducing of suffering.
Just as the saintly hermits cannot evade themselves, so the married persons cannot avoid their partners. In this partially uplifting, partially tormenting evasionlessness lies the specific character of this path. ~ Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig

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