All Masters say that marriage is a sacrament, not a contract. This system began ages back. We are entering into life. For that, Masters always enjoin that we must have good lives: we should be righteous; that is, have good thoughts, good words and good deeds.
All scriptures tell us that outer marriage means taking a companion in life for weal or woe on this earthly sojourn to help each other to know God, which is the highest aim before us in the manbody.
One duty of marriage may be that of begetting children, it is not hundred per cent of our duties. We need a companion in life. Whoever God unites, let God disunite. It is the unseen hand of God working behind it, that brings two souls together to wind up the give and take of the reactions of their past.
But marriage is meant for a higher purpose of the union of soul with God. All scriptures and all religions tell us that. The Sikh scriptures have given as the first step that we should have righteous lives: good thoughts, good words and good deeds, and love for all: not to hurt the feelings of anybody. Naturally, love knows service and sacrifice. One who loves knows only to give, give and give: to help himself, and to help others, too. An ethical life, with the normal duties of a householder, is a stepping stone to spirituality. The ultimate goal is to know God, and we should help each other to know God. The first step is an ethical life.
We have joined various schools of thought or religions for the purpose of having spirituality. What is spirituality? Spirituality is the subject of analyzing spirit from the bondage of mind and outgoing faculties, to know ourselves and then to know God. God cannot be known by observation (of outer rituals and dogmas): “You cannot enter the kingdom of God by observation” (St. Luke, 17:20). These are the elementary steps of the outer religions we have taken up; the main purpose is to have love and devotion to God. Also, as God resides in every heart, and we are spirit in man, we should have love and regard for everyone: even for creatures, not to speak of men.
With that object in view, what have we to do? The ultimate goal of union of the soul with God is the true marriage. Naturally, to be married in the outward way, you have to call for the minister. Here a minister is supposed to be a very holy man, and he knows about the marriage business. Similarly, for the inner, true marriage of soul with God, we need somebody who knows the way and who is adept in there, in that subject. So learn to sit at the feet of somebody who has known God, because we want to know God. Those who have known God have all said the same thing; of course in their own languages. But the purpose is the same. What do they say? Man is the highest in all creation, and the highest aim before us is to know God. Remain in any religion you like.
This outer union of two bodies – embodied souls – together, is the first step toward the ultimate. The second step is to help each other to have union with God. That is the true marriage: the soul with God eternal. Mira Bai said, “I now have the eternal marriage with God; now I have nothing to fear. He is unchangeable permanence; so I have a marriage that will never break.” For that marriage, you will naturally need somebody who has that inner contact or achievement. Call him a minister or a Master or anything. He is supposed to have known God. In all churches, ministers are meant for that purpose. They should unite with God and help others to unite with God.
So, have pure lives and guidance: sit at the feet of somebody who has known God. What will he do? Naturally, if he has known God, he will know what are the helping and what are the retarding factors to the union of the soul with God. He will tell you how to withdraw the outward attention, which is the expression of the soul and which is now devoted to the world, from the outside, and then how to rise above body-consciousness and come in contact with God, who is already there (in us). Such a soul becomes enlivened, you might say, other souls are “dead”. They have “died” from the sense of consciousness; they are always thinking of matter and of outside things, they will know nothing further than that. Guru Nanak says, “Only he is alive, o Nanak, who is awakened, who is conscious of God, as I see you and you see me.” This is also what Christ meant by “the soul dies”. Soul does not really die; this is the meaning behind it.
I think, you remember that in your biblical scriptures some of the saints said, “Christ has given me a ring.” That is the elementary step: the soul’s marriage to God. They became conscious of it, and they thought that their soul was married to God.
The second step is what He gives you. He gives you a contact with the Godpower within, which is called Word. The outer expression of Word has two aspects: Light and Sound. He gives you a contact with them. The result is that, day by day, you get more and more bliss and enchantment within yourself. Naturally, you become more attached inside and less outside. The result is that Sound begins to reverberate, and you hear. That is already reverberating, but we are not in contact with it. When you are given a contact with that Sound and Light Principle, you begin to hear that Sound all twenty-four hours of the day and night, without closing your ears. The result of contacting that eternal Sound or Music of the Spheres is that you become more attached to that higher bliss than to the outside; then you are in the world and yet out of it. This is the first result. Passions do not assail you, because you have more bliss inside: your attention is always drawn by that higher Power within you. You will feel that you are in the world and yet out of it. Just as, if you sit by fire, all cold is gone, and when you sit by ice, all heat is gone, similarly, the more you come in contact with the Light and Sound Principle within, the more you will become unattached to the world, and all passions will begin to leave you. When you have that realization in your life – that you are in the world and yet out of it – you take the second step toward the union of the soul with God.
What happens further? You begin to see Him within this temple of God, the manbody. You see that the Light is within you, and you also hear the Music of the Spheres. Then, when that expands, you see that the whole creation is the temple of God. Wherever you look, He is there, and there is no place where He is not. That inner vision opens. When you see God within and all around you, you sometimes feel as if you forget yourself. When that realization comes, you have taken the third step toward the union of your soul with God.
And what comes last? You become one with God. You lose all individual consciousness, like a drop of water which, when it unites with the river or ocean, becomes one with the ocean. This is the ultimate consummation of the soul with God: you become one with God; you see He is in you and you are in Him: “I and my Father are one.” This is the ultimate feeling. Feeling? No, seeing. It is not even seeing – seeing remains in the third stage. The ultimate is that you become one with Him. It is becoming. This fourth stage is the ultimate goal. But still, those who attain that goal experience some duality. Shankara said, “O God, I know there is no difference between You and me, but I am Thine, Thou art not mine; because a wave can be of the ocean, but the ocean cannot be of the wave.”
First, those who become one lose all “I-hood” and become the conscious co-worker of the divine plan; then, they become, they rise into Him. This is the ultimate consummation of soul with God: union with God.
This is the higher form of religion within each one of us; and for it, we have joined various schools of thought or religions. They have been a helping factor to those who have attained that stage. In the Sikh scriptures, the four stages are given, step by step. Generally a teacher gives the first step, and in all religions they give a little reference to it. What do they say? “God has united you; let God disunite you.” If you are together for the same goal, you will even live together after leaving the body, too. You are going the same way.
Love is not love that changeth from place to place. What is that love that changeth and is here today, there tomorrow? Christ said, “If you cannot love your brother whom you see, how can you love God whom you have not yet seen?” This is a form of outer marriage, which is a symbol of the higher marriage that you have to attain in due course. Blessed is the man who has had the manbody and his soul has united with God forever: he is one with God. This is what is meant by the goal. God has united you. Continue, and go on through weal or woe to help each other, with the ultimate goal being to know God. Maintain whatever children you have, and set your lives as an example so that the children may copy you.
I’ve come here, I’ve had the occasion to see three marriages. And others, also – hear me! Instead of running here, there, and everywhere, either be purely chaste, or, if not, be married; it would be better. That is the last thing I would advise you. Marriage does not mean, all along, a sensuous life. It is a very noble thing: a sacrament. Help each other. But running here, there, and everywhere is not a good example. Either remain hundred per cent chaste: good – I’ll wash your feet – or, if not, be married. That will help you on your way back to God.
In the old days, in the times of the rishis (seers›, there were three grades of chastity. The lowest or third grade was of twelve years. The second grade was twenty-four years of complete celibacy. And the first grade was forty-eight years. Now, just look to our own selves. This is the power that makes body, mind and soul. We do not value this very important thing. We raise our buildings on sand. This is a very valuable thing: it is not meant to be given to a sensuous way of living. It is something that gives strength to our body, to your mind, to your soul. It is a very great helping factor.
Marriage is very noble. You’ll find that many Masters were married. They had one or two children, and that was all. When they took up the role of Mastership, they left off all of that. The pity is that these things are not taught. We think it is below our dignity. But these are the things which I think are sapping the very life of the coming generation. We should wake up: it is time. I request those who come here to be chaste and to have righteous lives. If they are married, they should be married in the true sense of the marriage, and help each other to know God; that is all.
For that purpose they have the company of the those who have succeeded that way. They can give you right guidance and can also help you on the way. And what is that helping? It is first the giving of the outer, righteous way of living and the inner, higher contact; and then the development of it.
First, we will see and find that the body is the temple of God. Then, that is developed further, and with open eyes we will see that the whole universe is the temple of God. And sometimes, in that intoxication, we will forget ourselves. So, it is a matter of seeing – not seeing, but becoming. The ultimate goal of soul is God.
Masters have been giving such teachings, but we simply ruminate over them and do not go into the right import of what they taught. These are only ceremonies that are performed, and ordinarily they are taken very lightly; but they are very serious; they have some meaning behind them.
From time to time I have been laying before you the digest, in a few words, of what I came to know intellectually and spiritually. Just strive to live up to it. Truth is above all, and true living is still above truth. If you have very chaste lives and a righteous way of living, you will have truth; and that will earn my pleasure, too, and the praise of all who see you. They will praise you, they will praise your school of thought, and they will praise the person at whose feet you sit. If you don’t live up to that, you will simply spoil the good name of the school of thought and also the name of the Master at whose feet you sit.
by Sant Kirpal Singh