Spiritual Relationships and Right Attitude

Question

What is the right attitude when your spiritual partner interprets the teachings as saying you need to be emotionless and he will not give you love and compassion when you are feeling soley because you "want" it. He says "even though I am not emotionless I want you to be. It is a delusion." This is not the spiritual marriage one should cultivate to find god. This is not what Yogananda is teaching. Is it?

—Sara, US

Answer

Dear Sara,

As a spiritual seeker, each one of us is trying to learn to be “even-minded and cheerful at all times.” (That is Yogananda’s definition of a yogi.) In order to do that, we need to find joy within ourselves and cultivate it, through meditation and practicing enjoyment within at all times.

This is both a wonderful goal that will give those who practice it a rich and fulfilling life, and it is also a challenging goal that we can work for decades to perfect. Even if we have not yet perfected it, the attempt to do so, in itself, is uplifting and transformative.

It would probably be valuable for you as a person to separate yourself mentally from the question of if your partner’s approach is right or wrong and say, “Do I need to practice feeling more inner joy? Do I need to meditate more, read more inspirational books, tune in to spiritual teachings? (For example, you can watch Ananda’s Sunday Service talks online and they are great for giving inspiration and joy.) Would it benefit me to feel more complete in myself and less dependent on another person for my happiness?”

It could be valuable to see your partner’s attitude, which I will talk about in a moment, more impersonally. Perhaps God is using him to encourage you to develop more inner strength.

On the other hand, one piece of advice from Swami Kriyananda that i’ve always appreciated is that we should never try to be our spouse’s teacher. If we have committed ourself to someone, then our role is to help them through love, not to judge and lecture them.

There are usually two sides to any coin. Your partner may be acting a bit judgmentally (it is certainly hard to know this from a brief letter!). On the other hand, if you stand back impartially, perhaps you will discover that his message to you could bring enormous benefits!

When we are truly spiritual seekers, our goal is to be open to growing and changing, even if our feelings were hurt, we feel we weren’t fairly treated, etc.

Whether your partner is right or wrong in his attitude is his own problem. But what he’s suggesting that you try, if you use some of the tools I’ve mentioned above, could be a huge help for you.

If you don’t already have a meditation practice, you can learn to meditate on ananda.org or you can look for an Ananda teaching center near you. If you need help finding such a center, go to http://www.ananda.org/classes/

If you are new to Ananda’s teachings, you might also enjoy The New Path or Spiritual Marriage both by Swami Kriyananda. There is also a beautiful book by Yogananda called Spiritual Relationships.

I hope you will take this opportunity to go deeper in your spiritual life. We can never lose by doing that.

In divine friendship,

Anandi