PERFECT SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Excerpts from Discourse 62 from The Second Coming of Christ
Perfect Divine Love
There is an even higher way of fulfillment than spiritual union of soul companions on the physical plane: union with God by divine communion in meditation and ecstasy. Seeking soul liberation through union with a soul mate is a spiritually dangerous course for those who are not already advanced in wisdom, for temptation may cause them to sink into the delusion of wrong living that will take them away from God into the karmic bondage of further reincarnations. But once the soul of man or woman is united with God, the Consummate Soul Mate, that soul never can fall from liberation. This is why Jesus, Swami Shankara, and other saviors have shown this highest path of liberation by uniting their souls directly with God alone. [p.1208]
This method of perfection and matrimony with God is the holiest marriage, between soul and Spirit, where God is the Divine Beloved, positive and masculine, and all human souls are negative and feminine, beloved spouses of God. This concept is posited on the duality of the cosmic creative principle: Spirit and Nature. Spirit, being the source and upholder of manifestation, is the Positive Masculine Absolute, whose active creativity is His outgoing Negative Feminine Power, Nature, of which all incarnate souls are a part. Together, Positive Spirit and Negative Nature with their offspring of masculine and feminine forms and forces propagate the grand universal scheme.
Essentially, therefore, we are all the brides of God. He is the Divine Lover perpetually wed to every soul, never forsaking any soul though it forsake Him in its adulterous roaming in delusion. God as the Perfect Lover pursues each soul through incarnations until it returns to Him. Of all the love that has ever been promised, pure love, love that is eternal, is found at last in God. He is all the love of all the lovers that ever loved. When the soul meets Him, it knows He is the One it was waiting to meet.
If one lives rightly and learns the higher forms of meditation, one develops the spiritual magnetism that neutralizes the animal magnetism of the physical body. With freedom from the "original sin" of sex attraction, one finds the true soul mate in a spiritual marriage on earth, or in a dream or vision, or in the astral world; or supremely, in direct union with God. The love and friendship with the Divine cultivated in the bower of meditation can never be lost. It shall last beyond the portals of the tomb unto Eternity.
The full implication of the words of Jesus, an impossible view for body-bound spiritually nearsighted persons, is best understood by those who meditate deeply and merge their concentration in the Christ Consciousness which Jesus possessed. Otherwise, much truth is lost in misinterpretation, mistranslation, or shallow cognition.
After alluding to the original ideal of spiritual marriage (for attaining soul union and perfect love in God as one means of liberation for worldly people), Jesus goes on to commend those men and women who completely renounce the husband-wife relationship of marriage and seek direct union with God through the self-mastery of celibacy.
A man or woman, singly, by completely renouncing sex pleasure and practicing those spiritual disciplines that unite the soul with God, finds perfect divine love and liberation in that consummate union. In linking celibacy with the attainment of the kingdom of God, Jesus emphasizes that the consciousness of sex must be sublimated by all people, married as well as celibate, in order to free the life force from this compelling impulse that binds the consciousness to the physical body. Spiritual eunuchs are those who withdraw their will, energy, desire, and sex force completely from the sex nerves by proper methods of natural sublimation, such as yoga, so that they no longer feel any overbearing physical impulse of sex. Spiritual eunuchs are not those who maim their sex power and become eunuchs because of impotency, but are those who attain self-mastery by such means as daily meditation and ecstasy and thereby never permit sexual desires to rouse their physical sex nerves. [p.1210]
Proper Attitude Toward Sex
All persons may learn to govern sex urge by wisdom, the pure intuitive intelligence that discriminates in guiding the will to choose the liberating bliss of Spirit "for the kingdom of heaven's sake" instead of the enslaving sensual pleasure of the gross physical body. Anyone who practices physical culture exercises with deep concentration during times of temptation can transmute the sex energy into muscular energy and general vitality. Or during the appearance of sex consciousness in the body, one may sublimate that force into great mental power by concentratedly engaging the attention in creative work, such as writing or music or art. Or the wayward sex force may be used propitiously to create the spiritual power of self-control, mastery of body consciousness, by being transmuted in meditation—the taintless life force then being absorbed in the higher states of consciousness in the subtle centers in the spine and brain.
When I asked my guru, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, to make me a swami, he tested my resolve and asked my reasons for not marrying. I thought of a lot of reasons; but principally I somehow felt I had outgrown it—I could not allot God a secondary place in my life. Master spoke of the many who renounce the world and lead selfish lives dependent on society to look after them while offering nothing in return. Married people, he said, have to renounce much in sacrifice for each other and responsibility for the welfare of their families. The family unit is a micro-organization in which all must do their part. The world itself could not go on if everyone were selfish and did not participate in the services essential to the harmony and welfare of society. After Master had made these points, he concluded, "Remember that he who rejects the usual worldly duties can justify himself only by assuming some kind of responsibility for a much larger family."
The pranayama techniques integral to yoga (taught as part of the science of Kriya Yoga in the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons) automatically induce the process of transmutation of the conserved energy into pure life force and consciousness for awakening of the higher centers of consciousness in the spine and brain. One of the basic disciplines of Patanjali's Eightfold Path of Yoga is brahmacharya (self-restraint); yoga treatises refer to the successful celibate brahmachari as urdhvareta (literally, "keeping the semen upward"), one in whom the physical reproductive fluid is converted into pure conscious life force, bestowing bodily strength, immense creative intelligence, and spiritual magnetism.
Jesus does not say it is wrong to marry and to bring good children into the world by Nature's ordinary law of procreation. But it is to be remembered that this creative principle is one of God's holiest laws. We must not think that there is sin in it, but there is inherent physical and spiritual danger in its misuse to stimulate and gratify sex consciousness for its own sake. That is detrimental to the nervous system and weakens the vitality and immune system in the body. Spiritually, it is impossible to lift the consciousness into the kingdom of heaven, the Eden of the higher centers of God-perception, without raising the life force from the lower spinal centers of sensual compulsions.
Mastery in the marital state begins with moderation and self-control and the joyous contact with God in meditation. Hypocritical renunciation, attempted abstinence by the sense-tortured individual, is unnatural, even harmful; that is why Saint Paul said: "It is better to marry than to burn." (I Corinthians 7:9.) Moderation in married life, supported by tasting of the Infinite Bliss of deep meditation and the unconditioned divine love of God in the soul, transmutes the consciousness in a natural way. When the joy of God, felt in meditation with stillness of breath, remains continuously in the soul, then the physical temptation vanishes forever through contrast: The joy in God becomes more tempting than all temptations. One can even love husband or wife with the love of God and not love of flesh, as did Lahiri Mahasaya (my Guru's Guru). His marriage was to show people how the consciousness of God can tame temptation and how God's love can spiritualize and transmute conjugal love. When one is irrevocably established in union with Divine Bliss, that consciousness can exist under all conditions of life. Real freedom can be accomplished in no other way.
When spiritual marriage of soul union in God is understood and cultured in unmarried or married life, sex is so completely and naturally sublimated in a greater joy of divine love that man and woman become again as "little children...for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Pure reason (Adam) and pure feeling (Eve) reunite in soul consciousness in union with the Will (reason) and Consciousness (feeling) that went out of God to create man and woman. The two are no longer so differentiated; in liberation from bodily identification, they are perfect children of God, made in the one and same immortal image of their Divine Creator.
Physical marriage practiced in this world is meant for the self-controlled propagation of the species and for assisting one another to learn the selflessness of love in faithfulness, giving, and sharing; and for the advanced few, it is one means of soul union for liberation after finding the perfect love of God by intense spiritual discipline, sexual sublimation, and meditation. Couples learn many lessons in the marriage partnership, such as uniting feeling and reason (positive and negative) to make two flesh as one through mutual respect and unselfish cooperation. But the resurrection Jesus referred to in his response to the Sadducees was of souls that have already found liberation in the perfect love of God and can enter into heaven freed from further reincarnation on earth. Hence, the physical discipline of marriage—or even divine seeking in meditation — is wholly unnecessary for those souls who have become immortals in "heaven." When the fruit comes, the flower falls. Human experiences of marriage, love, success, study, meditation, exercise, discipline, all are necessary to produce the fruit of Self-realization. But when enlightenment is attained, and subsequently liberation, all human experiences in the realm of delusion, having served their purpose, are no more.
Every liberated soul in heaven is married to God. Hence there can be no question of physical marriage for those souls who are complete and perfect in their union with the eternal love of God—the One Perfect Soul Mate.
Souls liberated from earthly ties and promoted to live in the finer vibration of the astral heaven enjoy that sphere with exquisitely refined astral sensibilities. They are able to create according to their slightest desire any object, scene, or luminous atmospheric condition by the sheer exercise of their will. Through the powers of their supramental astral bodies they can materialize other astral bodies by will power. Only on the earth plane is sexual union a requisite for physical birth. In the heaven of liberated souls, all have the same spiritual status—immortality—and are equal in the eyes of God. Jesus was certainly speaking of these supremely resurrected beings when he said they "are as the angels which are in heaven."
The souls of all men and women in reality belong to God alone — in spite of certain spiritual affinities between soul companions. Hence, in the after-death astral state, the souls of men and women are reminded of their sexless immortality; "marriage," with all its mortal connotations, becomes impossible there. Nevertheless, souls who are deeply in love with each other or who share bonds of pure friendship during their stay on the earth plane will recognize each other and continue to feel the love and divine friendship imprinted on their souls, even in the astral world after death. [p.1218]
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