Over the last couple of months, the hot debate over marriage equality has been seen frequently in the media, giving us all a chance to reflect on what marriage really means in modern day Australia. There is no debate about the benefits of marriage upon physical and mental wellbeing.  A happy marriage gives us a sense of security and support.  It gives us a feeling of stability. From the perspective of a yogi, marriage can give us even more.  In the words of the great Master we know as Yogi Bhajan “Marriage is the highest form of yoga.”

Having been married for little over a year I don’t claim to be any kind of expert in the field of successful relationships, just ask my husband.  What I have experienced in the past year is the opportunity to learn far more about myself and about the nature of love and kindness, than ever before.

Being Sikh I was married in a Gurdwara or Sikh temple. The ceremony was profoundly moving, for both myself, and my husband, who is not Sikh. Whenever I have experienced times of conflict or difficulty in my marriage, reflecting on the ceremony and the intentions we set on that day, always bring a sense of clarity and hope, and renew my commitment to my spiritual path and my relationship.

The ceremony is very short and simple. A beautiful hymn composed by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das is read and then sung as the couple walk together four times around the “Guru” the collected writings of the 10 Sikh Masters. The aim of marriage for a Sikh is not just to live happily ever after. The goal of marriage is to merge with the other and become one soul living in two bodies. This is a reflection of the aims of spiritual life where the highest goal we work towards is merger with the divine, where our soul becomes one with all that is. To me, the four verses of the hymn describe the stages of wisdom that we are challenged to face in our spiritual life and in a lifelong relationship.

The first step on any journey is making a choice and making a commitment to that choice. Commitment takes us through the ups and downs of life. It builds our strength and it builds our character. Commitment gives us faith in ourselves; it helps us recognise our own power. Commitment is the beginning but it is also what will take us to the end. Commitment to your chosen path is the only friend you have. A commitment that is concreted in ceremony, declared before community and held together by law holds more strength than a personal or internal commitment. For this reason, so many same sex couples hope to see legislation change.

After commitment comes challenge. Every couple knows the difficulty of trying to synthesize two different opinions into one harmonious decision.  There is a wonderful saying “You can be right, or you can be married.” The desire to be right or to always be in control is one of the biggest challenges to a happy relationship and to spiritual growth. As a yogi we are challenged to become humble. To let go of the need to be superior and to allow Universal Intelligence (which exists within all living things) to guide our way. When we align our personal will with universal will, when we learn how to listen and accept, we let go of conflict and we go with the flow of life.

By overcoming the ego we move into the third stage of the journey, the unfolding of compassion. In this stage of marriage we love the other not for their sense of humour or their skill in the kitchen. We simply love the other because it is our nature to love. We learn to accept the faults in others and in doing so we give ourselves permission to be okay with our own imperfection. Compassion towards ourselves allows us the kindness to stop striving in our spiritual life and to fall into the arms of the Divine. Allowing ourselves to be loved is one of the most difficult and transformational choices we can make. By allowing Grace into our lives we become a channel for the Grace of God and love flows through us bringing peace and healing into the world.

In the last stage of the journey we reach a state of Yoga, Union. We experience a deep and transcendent bliss and we know the Oneness of all life. It is the experience of pure consciousness, beyond thought, beyond life and beyond death.

I believe that marriage is a yearning of the soul to find its true home within Infinity. It is not a privilege that belongs only to heterosexual couples. It is the right of every soul, every being on this planet to experience bliss, the Divine, no matter what their race, religion or sexual orientation.

Written by Gurudaya Kaur Khalsa

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