We continue with the interview with Bo Lozoff, founder of the Human Kindness Foundation.
Are you saying that part of what has led to the high divorce rate is that we are not using marriage for the way it was intended?
That’s right. Two people fall in love and they get married. For whatever reason — karma, fate, destiny — they looked at each other and saw something sparkling, divine. But if you’re together long enough your spouse is going to be privy to the worst, ugliest, and pettiest in you. That’s why the wedding vow is traditionally “till death do us part, through richer or poorer, through thick or thin, sickness or health.” Strong wedding vows were meant to help us stick around long enough to come out on the other side.
If you do stick it out, eventually it begins to dawn on you that marriage can be a sacred tool for helping you transcend conditional love. Your partner has seen not only the best that she fell in love with but also the worst, and she still loves you. And the same is true for you. This is whole love, which allows us to say, “I love you because you are, not because you are good to me. I’ve seen all of you and I love you.” Through our spouse, then, we can seek to touch divine love.
What does one do to stay true to this deeper view?
Most of us are going to grow up, get married, have kids and be householders. Marriage and family life is our way to contribute something wholesome to our culture. Through our relationship with our spouse and our kids we must try to live in a way that personifies everything that is good about connectedness and caring for others. This view is more in tune with the great cultural traditions, which emphasize compassion and sharing over accumulation and personal achievement.
One of the best-selling New Age authors says in his book on creating affluence, “Fulfill every material and non-material desire. Make and spend money lavishly.” This is not atypical. Most books of this kind acknowledge the spiritual powers of mind and body but still bundle them all in the service of the small self. Yet the small self can never be satisfied. There is no amount of fulfilling material well being that will give us a sense of connectedness; in fact, it seems that the more we have the harder it is to maintain a sense of connectedness with others. In Joseph Campbell’s words, it’s the small separate self that is the dragon, the enemy of the hero’s journey.
What has been available for you and Sita by staying married for 30 years that isn’t available to somebody else who has been married and divorced two or three times over that length of time?
We were talking about the sacred journey and the point in marriage at which you’ve seen the other in every possible light, the very ugliest and worst and the most evil, as well as the most divine and compassionate. There’s no way to do that in a short time.
People who have been married for five years sometimes say, “We know exactly what it’s like between you and Sita because it’s already like that with us.” But there’s no way in five years that you can know what it’s like to be with somebody for 30 years. There is a gradual deepening and an enlightenment that come over time. The reason that yoga was developed in the first place, thousands of years ago, was so that these holy men and women could stay healthy long enough to reach enlightenment. If you consider marriage a path toward enlightenment, then obviously the longer that we are married, the better our shot at enlightenment at understanding the meaning of the saying, “When one cries, the other tastes salt.”
(We’ll finish up the interview with Bo in the next day or two. Stay tuned and on purpose.)