Dharma is commonly translated as right action. Marriage in and of itself represents dharma: you are deliberately and consciously magnifying love in this world.
These essays emphasize the importance of cultivating your love and building a vessel to protect and hold it (the center and boundary of your marriage). There is a third critical element that an awakened marriage must embody to be complete and whole, and this involves how you interact with and serve the world around you (gateways or pathways between yourselves and the community and society). While part of your work involves nurturing yourselves, it is important that you create portals whereby the two of you as a couple serve the world and the people around you. If you do not, your closed-off realm of love will suffocate. You need a way to express your love, to use it, to make it manifest. Therefor, you can think of dharma as putting your love into action.
As you grow deep together, as you learn to collaborate and to contribute your unique skills and qualities to your endeavors, you will develop an identity as a couple. What are your unique qualities and gifts? How will you stand in your community, and how will you make a difference to those around you, to your family and to society? Together you will enrich your community, your family, your sangham, and the entire world. You may do this through creative projects, hospitality, service work, or serving as pillars in your community. Householder dharma often infers providing financial support for the institutions of civil society, whether they be religious, academic, political, or social institutions. If you can recognize what your gifts are as a couple, you can magnify them and consciously use your marriage to serve, to uplift, to heal, to nurture, and to strengthen.
Taken to another level, dharma means recognizing that your union has a calling, a sacred purpose, and you are serving that purpose. Understand that the two of you have been brought together in this lifetime to make a unique contribution to society. You will come to know this by listening to the heart-space that two of you share; receive it as a command from you Satguru and commit your lives to serving that purpose. In the tradition of South Indian temple builders and sculptors – Shilpi’s – it is said that before a temple or image of a deity is constructed, the Shilpi must first invoke and cultivate the deity, then magnify it, relish it to such an extent that it can only burst forth and be expressed. So too with your marriage: you cultivate your love so intensely that it cannot help but express itself in the world.
Bearing and raising children is perhaps the most common and precious gift couples give the world. It is an endeavor that, at its best, draws greatness from both of parents and leaves a legacy for humanity.
When you make a public commitment to wed, you represent a strength that others can count on. Your vows confer a solidity, a gravity to your lives. You may not see it, but you become an anchor in your community and your social circles. In this changing world, family and friends and community need to have touch points they can count on. Part of your dharma is to recognize and accept this responsibility to support others around you. Make your marriage a gift to all. Do this, and you are practicing dharma. Ultimately it is your dharma to commit your marriage to magnifying the highest truth, to cultivate God consciousness so powerfully that it lights the whole world.
Next essay: Moksha: Enlightened Marriage