Yoga means union; wholeness is implied. In wholeness, you embrace not only the light, but the dark; not only the gentle, but the fierce; not only the beautiful, but also the ugly. Indeed, Advaita embraces the full experience of life, understanding the transcendent nature of the divine as dwelling in, causing, and illuminating all things. As the living power of Kundalini, the love in your marriage will inevitably illumine all parts of your being and bring you into relationship with the whole of who you are, including your darkest aspects.

The guru embodies this union. The word guru is comprised of the two root syllables: gu, the dark, and ru, the light. It is sometimes interpreted as the light that removes the darkness, but it might also imply the wholeness, the fullness, that encompasses and thus transcends both light and dark. The guru is the master of Kundalini, the one who awakens its dormant power within you.  When both partners in a marriage are students of the guru and are imbued with awakened Kundalini, the guru’s power will take you on this journey to wholeness.

Every marriage contains conflict. Negotiating different perspectives and ways of living in everyday life is intrinsic to marriage. In the process you learn humility, empathy, patience, forgiveness, collaboration, and so forth; maybe you learn to fiercely stand up for your own needs, which make you a deeper person and more skillful partner. This is the good, essential, everyday work of a committed partnership. Like your thoughts that arise in meditation, these conflicts never end, but can, with right understanding, become insignificant and cease distracting you from your deeper purpose.

But the love that is cultivated in a conscious marriage will at some point precipitate crises that will challenge you to the core of your being. Just as the fire of love warms and comforts you, so, too, is it like a brilliant beacon that illumines the darkest corners of your heart, exposing shadows, wounds, and patterns that you would prefer not be known—or which are so subliminal that you were never aware of them in the first place. You may be harboring patterns from your current lifetime or wounds from previous lives or carrying the wounds of your family or ethnic heritage. As a manifestation of the intelligent power of Kundalini, your love will demand that you inhabit the fullness of your being.

This work will lead you to some of the most difficult challenges of your life. On the surface, the crises may arise from chronic and recurring conflicts, or from making a mistake in your marriage, like having an affair, violating your partner, or cheating in some way. You and your partner may experience a wall that separates you from the love that used to blaze in your heart. A profound choice arises: either shrink from the pain — medicate it, shut the door on it — or regard the pain as an initiation into the fullness of your being, and face whatever it is that is stirring within you or your partner. The latter choice will require courage, commitment, faith in love, and the grace to complete the journey. It will require you to reach more deeply into your being, and marshal your inner resources more than ever before. You may experience hurt through your marriage so painful that you think you cannot endure being in it any longer. You may think that you can no longer be true to yourself and stay married. Unlike everyday conflicts, these deep crises do not resolve through your normal strategies and tools. Social concepts of proper behavior, right and wrong, social hierarchies, will not save you, and neither will your own track record as a couple. Things that you once regarded as foundational touch points may appear ephemeral. Parts of yourself you one regarded as strengths may feel like falsehoods. The experience is akin to ego-death when you enter this level of soul pain: you are in a realm of “no rules.” It can feel like you are being incinerated. Indeed, the constructs of your ego – your sense of who you are – are being deconstructed, and love is taking you to primal place, beyond ego.

It is at these times that you are tempted with the choice of turning back. It is easy to think that the problem is in your marriage, your partner, your society. But you do not become whole by changing the world; you do so by expanding your understanding of, and your relationship to, yourself. By gathering the courage to face the fear and pain inside, you will embrace the whole truth of who you are – the “faults”, the “darkness”, and you will understand that the truth of who you are is greater, untainted, eternal. The particular crisis that brings you to these depths is in fact a profound blessing, an opportunity to truly discover who you are.

The gift of marriage, and the transcendent power of love at its core, is that it will bring you into the darkness of the soul, and it will also give you faith to keep going. Instead of righteously clinging to your hurt and reinforcing your limited ego, perhaps you forgive; you forgive yourself, your partner, your parents, your society, your sense of God. If it is your partner that is awakening to this pain, perhaps you need to stand before them with compassion and unshaken resolve while they express their rage and hurt with a fullness and fury like they have never before touched. In an awakened marriage, you must want the know the truth more than you want comfort and complacency. You will recognize the profound wisdom of love that your marriage holds. This is the extraordinary and transformative gift of marriage which will bring you on exactly such a journey.

Like many, you could compromise, play it safe, and leave some issues to work out some other time. You may sense that your marriage does not yet have the fortitude to be so deeply tested, and you want to step back. But until you leap off the cliff, you can never know if you have the wings to fly. If you want to live with love flowing through your heart, to merge with your beloved in union, if you want to surrender to love, if you want to experience the pure love that you are, then you need to be willing to walk with your partner through heart-wrenching pain, face fearsome demons in your soul, and be prepared to have everything you identify with completely incinerated in the name of love.   The gift of marriage is that, even when you are pushed to the brink of sanity, when you feel you cannot contain any more pain, when you are feeling crushed beyond your capacity to endure, you will be able to rely on love. Even a few residual particles of love tucked away in some corner of your heart will nurture you just enough to give you the faith to keep going, to renew your courage and your resolve, to find new resources within yourself and discover a deeper truth that is deeper than the darkness. It is a love that embraces the wholeness of life and your being. This is the surrender of the ego to love. You do not shed your darkness, you come into right relationship to it and become rooted in a place deeper. The darkness no longer rules you; instead it instructs you, it is your friend. You become whole.

Next Section: Advanced Practices: Sex

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