I hope this email finds you well.
I have been doing marvelously. Everyday another layer of the onion peels away, so to speak. It is really amazing. Thank you so much for your sage council to find my sense of self and don’t budge and to trust my own experience. After so many years of seeking verification through books and myriad other “outer” sources, it has been refreshing and revelatory to finally trust the guidance that continuously wells up from the Guru within my own Heart.
I do, however, continue to find myself faced with an issue that has been plaguing me for quite some time now. I am a bit sheepish about asking for your advice concerning this issue not only in light of the comments I just made, but also because I know the Guru is not a marriage counselor and I do not wish to put you in such a precarious position.
Nevertheless, because I do not know anyone else I can turn to for advice on this matter, anyone else who would understand the context of sadhana that frames it, and because my wife has repeatedly implored me to see if you, as my Guru, can shed any light on the situation, I have decided to place the issue before you.
So, here goes. I hope you can find it in your heart to grace me with your patience and compassion.
As I’ve mentioned to you before, sadhana is the number one priority in my life. Over the past year, I have been engaging in more and more formal sitting meditation. I do 2-3 hours each morning, another 2 hours in the afternoon, and if possible when my wife is out of town another 1-2 hours in the evening. The depths to which I’ve been able to plumb my “inner” being during such extended sessions have been really remarkable.
I must say, however, that I feel a little remiss in calling the length of these meditation sessions “extended” as Himalayan yogis would probably scoff at such minute scraps of time. Moreover, Michael Langford, in his book, “The Most Rapid and Direct Means to Eternal Bliss,” refers to the many days he spent meditating for 12 hours or more and suggests that if one is serious about reaching the “goal” that one has to quit fooling around and devote all his time to the endeavor. I so often feel like I somehow should be doing more, but for now this is about as much time as I can find for meditation given that I am married and have a job as a high school English teacher.
This is the point at which the issue begins to arise.
As you can imagine, my wife has found my meditation practice to be a bit obsessive. Nevertheless, she has been pretty supportive of it. In fact, she has even said that she doesn’t mind how much time I spend in meditation as long as when I come out of it I am fully present with her.
And now, from my wife’s point of view, this is the point at which the problem begins to blossom. Big time!
Before going on, let me just say that my understanding is that, truly speaking, meditation is a never-ending process. It is an on-going 24/7 practice. Whether I am engaged in a formal meditation session or not, I try my best to remain focused on the inner Self, the sense of I Am, to maintain what is termed in Sanskrit as Shiva Drishti. Throughout my day, I strive to maintain an inner focus on the I Am no matter what activity I am engaged in or whom I am interacting with. To me, this is the natural and inevitable extension of formal sitting meditation practice, for is not the point of all spiritual practice to become immersed and stabilized in the state of self-realization at all times?
As you can imagine, in order to most effectively maintain this state of awareness throughout my daily activities, I tend to “see through the drama” of situations and don’t necessarily say a whole lot. I’m not trying to be rude or anything, and I do engage in conversation, but most often I am more in the mode of just taking it all it and not getting caught up in it or often even expressing a strong opinion one way or another about whatever the topic of discussion might be or what might be happening at the moment.
Given this focus on my part, my wife’s main complaint is that even after I have emerged from my meditation room, I am still rarely, if ever, fully present with her. She says that I act as if I don’t want to be on this earth, that I am a hermit, and that I have a responsibility as her husband to come out of my shell and engage in a more active relationship with her. In essence, she says, she is lonely.
She also says that I am very selfish, and that I place my path above hers and only care about taking care of my spiritual needs.
My wife, I should tell you, is a XXXXX who has been initiated as an elder in an YYYYY shamanic tradition, and she also sees auras. She has blended these three areas of specialty in her work.
This being my wife’s profession, she often engages me in conversations about spirits and energies and chakras and auras and whatnot and how these are in various states of imbalance and so on and so forth. From my point of view, all of this is merely illusory mind-stuff that 1) I don’t want to get mixed up in, and 2) I don’t see as having any reality or validity outside of the mind’s habitual tendency to give it such. Though I don’t mind listening to what my wife has to say about these issues and her beliefs concerning them, I don’t really have much to offer in the way of response.
I am willing to share my thoughts about the essential unreality of all the energetic stuff she talks about if she asks, but I don’t feel that I need to foist my understanding and experience upon her in a way that might make her feel as though I am invalidating her path.
During our many discussions about this issue, I have expressed quite directly my feeling that perhaps she and I are not a compatible partnership any longer. I have told her that if it is true that my spiritual practice is causing her as much pain as she says it is and that I am as selfish as she says I am, then it would be best for both of us if we split up, divorced, went our separate ways.
The idea of divorcing, however, is completely unacceptable to my wife. She says it is my responsibility, having taken the vow of marriage, to stay with her no matter what. She also maintains that if I left her I would be interfering with her life’s purpose and casting her adrift in the world of relationship because 1) she says it’s unlikely she would ever meet anyone else who would understand and accommodate her work, and 2) it would leave her vulnerable in her role as a spiritual teacher to romantic overtures from students/clients with whom it would be immoral for her to have a such relationships.
Besides, she adds, the bottom line is that she loves me.
I love her too, and I don’t want to hurt her, but…
Around and around we go about these same issues every several weeks or so, and nothing ever changes.
My wife is angry and frustrated and wants me to do something about it.
I admit that my practice is intense and that it is my top priority – even more than marriage if it must come down to a choice. Ideally, however, I would really like to resolve the issue in a way that enables me to meet my wife’s needs, while at the same time neither dampening nor impinging upon my sadhana and perhaps even strengthening it.
From your perspective and experience, is such a solution possible, Edji?
Both you and Robert were married. How did you maintain the intensity of your sadhana in that context? How did Robert? I realize that spiritual realization should be integrated into daily life, but I really don’t know how to respond to my wife’s demand that I be more present in a world that I see as unreal. Do I just play my role and pretend I care more than I do about all the daily dramas, or what?
Am I just being stupid?
I’m not expecting you to tell me whether I should leave my wife or not, but if you have any insights you are willing to offer on how I can more effectively deal with this situation in terms of sadhana, I would greatly appreciate hearing them.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
With all my love,
This is an extraordinarily important letter and describes a dilemma so common in couples, one or both of which are pursuing spiritual paths.