by Paramahansa Yogananda
Excerpts from Discourse 62 from The Second Coming of Christ
Marriage Between Soul Mates
When two souls come together and bring out the wholeness in each other and ultimately unite with Spirit, that union is a true marriage between soul mates. Soul companions, being primarily united in Spirit and love, find the ever-new joy of God as the breath of their existence. The more strongly they become united in Spirit the less they concentrate on sex life. Soul companions in perfect marriage—even if they have sexual union for the propagation of spiritual children to bring good souls to earth—have their minds primarily engaged and engrossed in the perfect love of God.
The culmination of marriage between soul mates is distinguished by the fact that the husband and wife no longer live on the sexual plane—not by forced abstinence, but in transcendence. Being together in perfect love, they become united with God. Any so-called soul mates who have not yet extinguished their sexual appetites are not truly united as soul mates. A marriage that is very harmonious but without God-realization may be a moral marriage, an ideal socioreligious relationship on the human level, but falls short of being an actual spiritual marriage between soul mates, the end of which is liberation in God.
Matrimony without a foundation of spiritual life is not true soul-marriage but chance union as exists in the animal kingdom. By indiscriminate opportunistic breeding, animals produce perfectly good offspring and propagate their own kind; but the original marriage institution decreed by God for man—His special creation, above the animals, capable of expressing divinity—was formulated by the Divine Father of creation on a basis of spiritual love. A marriage without spiritual love remains on the level of Nature's law of animal union and cannot be termed a divine true marriage, a union of souls.
The foregoing must be remembered in reading Jesus' words about divorce. Though it was permitted by the law of Moses, Jesus again emphasizes that "from the beginning it was not so."
Attracting the Soul Mate
As the fulfillment of the union of soul mates is spiritual and not physical, the consummation does not necessarily require the coming together in a marriage partnership on the material plane. Sometimes even a chance meeting between soul mates fills one with a sense of completeness and pure love that wholly vanquishes all sense of need for physical union. This is true of relationships that have evolved through past lives as soul helpmates.
One such instance was brought about by the intercession of my guru, Sri Yukteswarji. A man tormented with debauched desires sought the help of Master. He told the man, "When you find your soul companion, you will lose all consciousness of lust." One day he was with Master at the railroad station. There was a train on the siding in which a beautiful girl was sitting at one of the windows. Master exclaimed to the man, "There she is, the one you have been seeking. Look at her!" The man was transfixed in an emotion of joy. From that time on, he led a saintly life devoted to God.
Soul mates living on different parts of the earth, or even if one is on earth and the other in the astral world, may come together in a liberating union of God's love. The ideal man or woman who does not live on the sexual plane develops a spiritual magnetism by which he or she can attract the right soul mate on the earth plane or the dream plane or astral plane or the plane of conscious visions experienced in deep meditation. In the meeting of one's soul mate by whatever means, there will be no further desire to live according to worldly norms on the material plane. The reunion of masculine-feminine, positive-negative, reason and feeling, brings forth the immutable image of God in the soul. There is no necessity for physical marriage at all. It will be consummated right within one's heart.
Ordinarily, persons go through a process of selection of companions and the misery and trials of a wrong marriage or marriages until they spiritualize their consciousness sufficiently to attract a true soul companion. It is only after soul mates have come together in spiritual marriage—whether for the first marriage or after the experiences of untenable wrong marriages—that if they separate through sex temptations they commit adultery and foil the only purpose of all spiritual marriages: liberation in God by real matrimonial union.
The very word "adulterate" means to debase, corrupt, or make impure. Great prophets warn against improper use of sex not because the procreative force is inherently evil—having become nature's way of propagating the species when man lost his spiritual creative power of direct materialization—but because when dissipated indiscriminately it vitiates the heavenly soul consciousness and deludes man by identification with the sensual physical body and material world. [p.1203]
The Hindu scriptures speak of the following ways of committing adultery (equally applicable to women as well as men):
1. To think lustfully of a woman, without the woman being present before the physical eyes.
2. To talk about a woman with lustful desire.
3. To touch a woman with lustful desire.
4. To gaze upon a woman with lustful desire.
5. To hold private intimate talks with a woman with the ultimate hope of physical union.
6. The act of physical union without the consecration of marriage. [Discourse 27 p.469]
Consequently, Jesus implies that when a man and woman have coition primarily to satisfy sexual instincts, it is, metaphysically speaking, "fornication." The intended union of souls, the true mating, is forsaken to cohabit instead with the senses of the physical body—unfaithfulness to the true marriage partner, the soul, by lustful cohabitation with the body. The minds of the parties involved, being wholly concentrated on the sensual physical expulsion of life force, fall from the heavenly joy of spiritual union. The stronger the sex union, the more the disunion in Spirit. Adulterous union is diametrically opposed to the divine union of soul mates in spiritual marriage. In the state of consciousness from which Jesus was speaking, on the high esoteric plane of truth, marriages that are not spiritual marriages between ideal soul companions and in which sexual indulgence eclipses the higher goal are "adulterous," and are to be spiritualized if a married man and woman are to find divorce-free lasting happiness and soul evolution together. Thus, socioreligious marriage alone does not free one from metaphysical adultery; but spiritual marriage, which has as its object a gradual rising above sexual impulses to lift up the consciousness and reenter the Eden of God-union, ultimately frees one from the "original sin" of the foil of Adam and Eve inherited by ensuing adulterous generations.
Neither Jesus nor any other great master would expect celibacy from persons unprepared spiritually and emotionally for such lofty discipline. Wise counsel is rather that of gradual overall sublimation of physical consciousness, including sex, into spiritual consciousness through daily practice of scientific methods of meditation along with cultivation of pure soul qualities. In marriage, spiritual aspirants should observe moderation in physical relations, and above all the culture of a spirit of love, service, loyalty, and divine friendship between husband and wife.
In marriage, spiritual aspirants should observe moderation in physical relations, and above all the culture of a spirit of love, service, loyalty, and divine friendship between husband and wife.
Jesus himself embraced a life of celibacy, never allowing intrusion of the pleasures of the flesh that would pull his consciousness from its seat in the inner kingdom of God. The Order of Swamis in India also emphasizes the renouncement of sex consciousness for the attainment of the everlasting joy of Cosmic Consciousness. [p.1211]
The Spiritual Purpose of Family Life
The spiritual purpose of family life is to expand one's consciousness through cultivation of purifying divine love and friendship that is not conditioned by sex or any selfish motivation. In marital coition, love should be uppermost. In time, as real love is cultivated, sex consciousness will wane naturally, replaced by the supreme joy of soul bliss and communion. When love, respect, and friendship are uppermost, the relationship will be successful and will progress surely toward fulfillment of the high divine purpose of marriage.
To love one's spouse with the pure love of God, and to share a marriage blessed by self-control through mental development, and to create spiritual children, is a noble way to live. To be drowned by material cares, weariness, overwork, greed for money, overindulgence in amusements, buying more things, and slaving for more money and saving no time for God leads marriage partners to the misery kingdom of Satan. A happy, contented, simple, harmonious married life of self-control and meditation leads them to God.
Success in marriage is very difficult if partners expect too much from their spouses. When each demands fulfillment from the other and that demand is not met, they become enemies. That is why I believe that a lasting and fulfilling marriage is in most cases impossible without spirituality—without a mutual effort to seek satisfaction of the soul's yearning for perfect love and the joy of fulfillment where alone it can be found: God-communion. [p.1205]
The animal instinct of uncontrolled sexual appetites is the chief reason for failure of modern marriages. Those modern marriages that are born on the sexual plane usually end in some form of physical or mental separation when the sexual desires are sated. Wrong marriages, with disunion in love and soul compatibility, lead to misery and the destruction of families, the very fabric of society.
Errors in choosing matrimonial candidates, divorces, and multiple marriages are frantic misguided efforts arising from the soul's pure desire to find one's real life companion. Selfishness, lust, physical attraction, external beauty, financial lure in marriage, animal magnetism of the opposite sexes—these are the evil forces that misdirect a person from traveling in the right path that leads to the discovery of a proper soul companion.
Man and woman should lead ideal lives and marry only when they are sure they are compatible as soul companions. If man and woman are more spiritual and follow the law of soul attraction and not sex attraction, they will find the right marriage and progress toward freedom in God. Only then will divorces become fewer and fewer until they vanish.
Jesus previously warned that adultery is committed in mind as well as in body. ["Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery': But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-28; see Discourse 27).] "Delusion's temptation of untransmuted sexual attraction to someone other than one's own marital companion so distorts reason that it becomes a mental obsession, continuous and nearly unforsakable. If chronic and unrepented, this mental adultery, as surely as physical adultery, leads to irreconcilable disharmony and disunion, justification for divorcement from the erring spouse. Purity in body and mind is the only sure formula for union of true soul mates.
A husband and wife should be loyal to each other and try to make each other happy in every way. The spiritual wife should not forsake the unspiritual husband, nor should the spiritual husband forsake the unspiritual wife; they should try to influence and help each other as long as it is possible to do so. However, in speaking about divorce, Jesus never meant that a husband or wife who puts aside an ill-chosen wrong spouse, after having exhausted all efforts to bring spiritual harmony into a ruinous marriage, commits adultery if he or she later marries a true soul companion. [p.1207]
God-knowing sages have declared that the three strongest temptations of man are money, sex, and intoxicants. In earlier eras in undeveloped civilizations, sex and wine were the primary pitfalls; in our industrial age, with its dependence on finance in individual life and society at large, it may be said that money is the principal tool of delusion, for it buys wine, stimulates indulgence in evil sensory passions, and exerts a powerful hypnosis of self-importance and false security. Scriptural wisdom, which condemns worship of "unrighteous mammon," needs to be heeded by money-mad modern man. [p.1145]
[Discourse 27 - p.470-471] The mind is single-tracked when it becomes fixated on an impulse. Once it gets used to sex habits, it is very difficult to make it move in the elevating channels of meditation. Sex-addicted persons are very nervous and restless; their minds wander constantly on the plane of the senses, making it difficult to concentrate upon the inner peace that leads the consciousness to the all-intoxicating, ever new bliss of God-communion.
The vital essence lost in physical union contains untold atomic units of lifetronic intelligence and energy; the loss of this power, due to indiscriminate excesses, is extremely harmful to spiritual development. It exacerbates the outflow of life force through the lowest subtle center at the base of the spine, concentrating the consciousness on identification with the body and external sensory perceptions. When one is habituated to this state, no ascension of consciousness to the higher centers of spiritual realization and God-communion is possible. People who live on the sex plane with its momentary allurement and physical excitation cannot even imagine, much less desire to achieve, the incomparable bliss of Spirit in interiorized meditation. Yogis enhance their great spiritual power and realization by a natural, not suppressed, conservation of the vital essence, transmuting it into divine vibrations in meditation that awaken the higher centers in the spine with their exalted states of consciousness.
Speaking figuratively of how even looking at the opposite sex with impure thoughts arouses lust, Jesus said that it is better to lose an eye than that the whole bodily instrument be desecrated by evil—it is better to forgo illicit sensory indulgence than to lose the infinite unending joys of the soul's communion with Spirit.
Christ used a dramatic metaphor to emphasize that if the mind becomes enslaved by desires arising from any sensory perception ("eye") or sensory action ("hand") it profanes the divine soul-image within man, leaving him oblivious of God. Nothing in life, no matter how pleasurable, is of any value or lasting happiness if one remains ignorant of God. Without knowing Him, life becomes a "hell" of insecurity with unforeseen disasters and grievous troubles. It is better that man's misuse of the senses and his wrong actions "should perish" than to allow his passions to annihilate his entire happiness in Spirit.
How thoughtlessly people give up the kingdom of immortal bliss for their material desires for name, fame, lustful gratification, possession, money. Christ decried that shortsighted investment of one's life; it is more "profitable for thee" to cast off whatsoever casts the happiness of one's true being into a "hell" of delusive soul-oblivion.
The sin lies in marrying the wrong person, actuated by social custom or physical instinct. One should get married only when one finds soul unity with a proper mate. And the two thus united in holy vows should remain together, steadfastly loyal to one another. Proper marriage nurtures real love, union on a higher plane, and sublimates the uncontrolled lusts of living on the sex plane.
People who marry and divorce time and again never give the seeds of divine love a chance to grow on the soil of faithful commitment. The minds of such persons, being concentrated upon sex and physical attraction, remain spiritually fallow. Hence, divorce for flimsy reasons is adulterous behavior as it focuses primarily on sexual gratification as an end in itself. Marriage should be honored by husband and wife as an opportunity for nurturing growth and understanding through mutual exchange of their finest qualities.
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