How to take extreme responsibility in your marriage and soften it with abundant love and compassionate communication.
Disclaimer: I declare that what I write about in this article is not something that I have mastered yet. My intention is to fulfil my duty as a husband and a family man, but I also know I have a long distance to travel. Perhaps if I’m walking down the right path and I’m willing to keep walking, then eventually I’ll make progress…
When in a marriage or intimate relationship of any sort, you experience good days and you experience not so good days. There are some days you are both all loved up, and others where you can’t stand to be even in the same room as your partner.
Situations in your marriage can be those which are pleasant to experience, such as a fresh pot of coffee waiting for you first thing in the morning when you wake up every day, or being whisked away to exotic destinations throughout the year. Situations can also arise which are frustrating or painful to experience like your spouse hogging the duvet or something much more serious such as verbal or physical abuse.
So what happens in these situations that makes marriage such a roller coaster of a ride? Is it time to pay a visit to the ER (Emergency Room) or are you prepared to explore the position of ‘Extreme Responsibility’?
Let me give you the lowdown on part of the karmic process so that you get a glimpse of why certain situations arise in your life the way they do:
You, the Soul, are bound at this point in time by a number of karmic clusters which each have their own pre-determined “time-bomb”. These karmic particles are roughly categorised as bad karma (paap) and better karma (punya).
When the karma comes to fruition, you experience in your life a specific situation. The situation could be that you come home from a long day at work to a loving wife who has caringly prepared a meal for you. The moment you take your first mouthful, the subtleties of a situation present themselves based on the types of karma that come to fruition.
If the karma coming to fruition was initially bound as a form of ‘punya’, then you may find the first mouthful very pleasing to taste and would continue to enjoy the delicious meal which your wife has so lovingly prepared. On the other hand, if the karma coming to fruition was initially bound as a form of ‘paap’, then the first morsel of food you consume may contain a very hot chilli, and you may get angry about the experience and throw the plate across the table!
Both of these situations started from a place of warmth and love on the side of your wife, but the first spoonful you are presented with is a result of your own karma coming to fruition, whether paap or punya.
In essence, the Soul is bound by a cluster of karmic particles that result in the fruition of karma at a later moment in time. This we witness as “life’s situations”.
In The Self Realization (a translation of Atma-Siddhi by Srimad Rajchandra) the interpretation of stanza 82 states that “The Soul’s deluded imagination originates sentient actions such as impulses, desires etc. They induce the Soul’s energy to work in attracting to it the superfine material elements (Karma-vargana) and the latter intertwine with the Soul resulting in its bondage. This is how the Soul is said to be bound by material actions.”
So when you, the Soul, delude yourself into thinking that you are the body, desires to do with the body start to surface, and these desires result in the attraction of karmic matter to the Soul.
You may say, “Why should it matter to me? I’m not to blame for this karma. It’s my wife’s fault anyway. Shouldn’t she have thought through the meal she’s preparing? It’s a wife’s responsibility to keep her husband well fed and looked after, isn’t it!?”
You see, this is where the problem lies – you’re putting the full responsibility of the experience on something or someone outside of yourself (your wife in this instance). It was down to your own bodily impulses and instant reactions which led to karma being bound to the Soul in the first place, which in turn led to the same karma manifesting as a situation in your life.
Now here’s where it gets dangerous…
In relationships and pretty much anything in life, we tend to instantly react to the situation we’re experiencing. We rarely take the time to observe ourselves and nip this process in the bud.
The enjoyment (raag) of a delicious meal could result in the expectation of every single meal being of this standard, and the dislike (dwesh) of a meal which is too spicy could result in “Why did you have to make it so spicy!? Don’t you care about me? Now I’ll have to go to bed hungry!”
This continuous experience of raag and dwesh, attraction and aversion, likes and dislikes, bring rise to the kashaya (passions) such as anger, greed, ego and deceit. The way you express yourself through these kashaya (via thought, speech and action) attracts further karma towards the Soul.
This one negative reaction to something you dislike has a vicious knock-on effect which leads to more and more conflict and many wasted days of arguments and tears.
Perhaps it’s time you took Extreme Responsibility for the situations you’re experiencing rather than heading straight to the Emergency Room to place blame and create more pain.
Note to self:
I am responsible for everything that I am experiencing. It is due to the karmic clusters which I had previously bound to my soul which are now coming to fruition.
My words and deeds, amplified by the quality of my thoughts at the time, determined the level of vibration my Soul sent out, which attracted and bound those clusters of karmic particles that bound to my soul, which in turn I am now enjoying or suffering for.
In my relationship, whether the situation is one of joy or despair, it is down to me to realise that I am the one who attracted it. I am the one who is responsible for it, the one who has to remain with equanimity, and the one who has to bear it.
To emphasise this point, in the book The Self Realization, the interpretation of stanza 84 states that “The results of good and bad actions are unmistakably experienced, enjoyed or suffered by living beings in this world.”
Why do we so frequently put the blame on our partner, the people or the objects outside ourselves, when there’s friction in the relationship? How about taking full responsibility for the karma we’re binding and therefore the situations we eventually experience.
Anything you experience in your various relationships is a direct outcome of karma coming to fruition – the same cluster of karmic particles that were bound to your soul during a previous interaction you have had with the world during this or a previous life, has now arisen as a situation you are experiencing.
Therefore you are directly responsible for every single thing you are experiencing.
In Twelve Facets of Reality, Pujyashri Chitrabhanu talks about marriage: “That inner level will also bring deep meaning to relationships. When husband and wife inspire each other, they become beautiful company for one another. Their communication turns into an eternal communion. The idea in marriage is to work out karmas and be a complement to each other. When we live on that inner level, we communicate and find out what is our mission. And when one feels low, the other is a lifting spirit. “This will pass,” he tells his partner. “We have to be patient and wait for the sunrise.” When one person is moody, there is no need for the other to add to the misery. There is no permanent pain nor is there any permanent bubbling happiness. What is permanent? Inner bliss, tranquillity; all else comes and goes.”
Start from this position of extreme responsibility, rise above the circumstances, apply abundant love and compassionate communication, and there’s your recipe for a healthy marriage.
This article was originally commissioned by Young Jains UK for their February 2009 issue of the Young Jains newsletter which focused on the theme of Love. You can find out more about Young Jains at www.youngjains.org.uk, and follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/YoungJains