On one level, the path to knowing the truth of who you are is one of striving and effort; this is sadhana, the practices and disciplines you apply to shift your consciousness from a limited one to an embrace, a surrender, to God. At the same time, there is also a way, an upaya, that simply embraces the truth as it is, in this moment; it is a path of recognition. The main effort required is to build a strong enough vessel to contain the vast consciousness that you are.
Your feminine partner is linked to the deep, powerful, and vast Shakti; her core is unfathomable, ever-changing, and mysterious. To you, her feminine essence will often appear to be frustrating, bewildering, and impossible to make sense of, even if it is accompanied by her radiance, beauty, and allure. While her femininity may be entangled in her ever-changing feelings and always-full world, she is equally a reflection of and in complete harmony with the Goddess, Shakti.
You play a key role in the process of her self-recognition. As you witness her feminine fullness and movement, you can help connect her to her deepest wisdom and knowing. It requires you to stand powerfully and deeply in the truth of who you are and to honor and serve her from that place. You have to sense into her, feel the deep wisdom of her complex ways, and offer her your presence, respect, strength, and love. She needs to feel you being emotionally present with her, even if you are not entangled in her complexities. The power and depth of your being creates the certainty and safety for her to relax into the fullness of who she is.
Men often feel criticized by their wives. There is a sacred dimension this. Your wife is really asking you, “Are you strong enough to allow me to express the fullness of who I am? Is your love for me deeper than your own ego? Can I trust you to witness and respect the deepest part of my being?” If you get perturbed by her petty criticisms, she is not going to feel safe to relax into all that she is, and she will not let you drink all the radiance that she has to offer.
Your practice is to not only respect her and support her, but to regard her as the Goddess herself, not only when you see her beauty, but in her most contrary and befuddling ways. This is not trying to muster super human patience, understanding, and surrender; this is about standing fully in the depths of your own Shiva nature. If she drives you crazy with her complex and changing ways, your agitation is, in part, a reflection of your own lack of depth. If you feel tossed about in the stormy waves of a wild ocean—that is, in her moods, changing feelings, and complexities—you need to become a larger vessel with a deeper keel. If you become annoyed, she knows that she is not safe to relax into her full radiance. If you can remain rooted in your inner greatness and dance with her, and not get perturbed by her challenges, she will not only see your greatness, she will also relax into her own.
The masculine way in life has purpose and direction: you have a mission to accomplish and you apply your skills to attain it. When you reach your goal, you enter the satisfaction and pure emptiness that epitomizes the masculine fulfillment, just as the Shiva Purana’s describe Shiva’s bliss to be millions of years in deep meditation. The masculine loves accomplishment and then stillness. There is a grain of truth in the stereotypes of masculinity: in football there is the struggle, culminating in the touchdown…then, it’s Miller time! In sex there is the drive leading to climax…then snore. Work hard all day, then come home and zone out in front of the TV. These are mundane expressions of a deeper archetype that characterizes masculine drive: striving to realize God and then reposing in infinite bliss and stillness.
Your feminine partner does not thrive on stillness and emptiness; it is fullness and connection that makes her feel happy and alive. Even if there is nothing “important” to convey, she may be happy to talk in circles and the flow of feelings and things, just because they convey feeling and a fullness of life. She may enjoy shopping, just for the feeling of beauty and abundance. She has no more interest in your stillness than she would wearing the same outfit day after day.
In marriage, you will have to abandon many of your customary habits of stillness; your feminine partner will see to that. Maintaining your core presence becomes a deliberate practice: you must be conscious of it even when you are surrounded by the swirl of Shakti all about you. Your yearning for emptiness is akin to the stories of Shiva meditating for a million years, or the images of Shiva lying dead while Kali dances on his body. You are vibrant consciousness. When she disturbs your peace, remember that she is the Goddess herself doing this. If she changes her mind every minute, see it like the clouds changing shape minute by minute, true to their nature in each moment. If she talks on and on, listen like you would to wind in the trees —rapturous and beautiful. When she criticizes you, even for small details, know that she is asking you to be Shiva. All the while, feel the presence of your being, feel the truth of who you are, recognize the Shakti she is conveying, and honor her with your deepest gift of presence and love. This is not easy. You will fail again and again. But know that the effort is sacred: the seemingly impossible dance of masculine and feminine in your marriage becomes a way for you to deepen your consciousness. Use this struggle as a clarion call for you to dive deeper into your being in meditation, to become established even more in the consciousness of the Self. Further, as you realize your own Self, your feminine partner will have no choice but to recognize hers, the divine truth of who she already is.
Next essay: Practice Adoring Your Wife