Thursday, September 5, 2013

About marriage and patience

This a rant-response to an oft-shared advice. I'll mention the advice first:
"Q: Guru___, if marriages are made in heaven, then why so many divorces happen on Earth?

[Name edited out because I seriously don't have the time to squabble with the loyalist fan-drones who're likely to forget all their Guru's advice and rain fire and stones for daring to say something against him]: Marriages are made in heaven, but divorces are made on Earth! (Laughter)

Lack of patience. Somewhere in our country we are losing patience. We want everything immediately, and we want quick result, and quick changes.

In our Canadian organization, we had a president for a long time, around 10-12 years ago. She was an 82 year old lady. She used to tell me, 'Gurudev, if one cannot row one boat they cannot row any other boat. Even if you change the boat, you will not learn how to row the boat'. So she said, 'I've decided that, so I'm rowing the same boat for last 45 years!' And she introduced her husband.

These days the youngsters don't know, they think by changing the boat they can row it well! And that's such a wisdom, you see? If you know how to row the boat, you can row any boat. Many times newly married girls come and they complain about their mother-in-law. I tell them, win them over by love – what is it that they want? Why do you have to separate from your in-laws?

We don't know basic communication skills. I just asked these girls one question, 'Was your mother not criticizing you?'
They said, 'Yes'.
Just look, your mother was much more criticizing than your mother in law. You tolerated everything your mother said, only when it comes from your husband's mother it pricks you more deeply and you want to get out of the house.

Just treat her as you treat your own mother. Take whatever she says like your own mother. You know it has made such a big difference in many, many marriages.

You should know just this simple wisdom. Meditate a little bit. Okay, mother-in-law is criticizing, let her criticize! Where there is belongingness, there is criticism also! Your mother-in-law has said something, it's okay! Just listen to what she's saying. If it hurts, keep cotton in your ears and keep listening, keep smiling!

You can win over anyone with love. And what is the difficulty in winning over elders of the home? We need a little patience, a little endurance. If we lose patience, we cannot progress in any aspect in the society. If you ask me how to increase patience and endurance? I will say continue doing what you're doing here.

How many of you feel that you have changed, you have more patience? Let me see. Good."
Oh, well, on with it:

1. A lot of women have been restrained from walking out of abusive relationships or been made to turn their backs on doing things that make them come alive, by quoting this same stuff. Not saying that's the case everywhere, but I would REALLY love it if our people learned to draw the line and acknowledge it when it's been crossed instead of blanket application of the same advice. I would love it if at the first report of abusive behaviour they'd confront the other party rather than advising the abused. "Is he beating you up every night? Oh, it takes patience and a lot of love, my dear. Don't worry, you'll win him over. Your love will change him. Just hang in there." And an abusive relationship doesn't have to have just physical invasion... "He/They dump all the chores on you and you can't give your time to anything of your interest? Oh, at least he's not beating you up, right? At least they're not threatening you for dowry, right? Don't be so hasty. Have patience"

2. Over the past 4 years the single biggest justification given to me by my relatives and family friends to get married, is to have someone at home to cook and clean, maintain the household and look after me and my family. Is it any wonder then that the majority of men around me expect this as an unquestioned, unspoken requirement long before marriage, and the men & families who don't levy this expectation on their women are considered "different", "unique", "alternative"; and get joked about by their peers?

3. To assume that marriage is an institution that arose out of love is highly inaccurate. They were NOT made in heaven. It was foremost an act of private property allocation, gender segregation and sexual control in a male dominated society. We can't separate the socio-economics from something that socio-economics itself brought about. And a huge part of "marriage issues" today is actually the outcome of the stripping off of community and isolation of people. Both emotionally as well as when it comes to the daily grind : there's just not enough hands on deck; it takes a village to raise a child and to run a household. Anyways, some glimpses into the marriage-related behaviours of communities that have lived far more sustainably on this planet can really shake our assumptions up. While there are quite some in India itself, this docu from China did a brilliant job in bringing it out. Check out Womens Kingdom : . The "divorce rate" if you could apply it, in this society, is nearly 100%, yet they're much better off than most because they designed their way of life to be in harmony with the things that happen naturally rather than the other way around.

4. We're being told to be patient about all the wrong things. If you want to exercise patience, stop forcing your kids to go to school and ask them how they'd want to design their learning, what they think life should be all about. Stop eating fast food, and try growing some! Stop shopping and try to be satisfied with fewer possessions. Mend that shirt and that bag and that shoe. Get a cloth bag, plan ahead and carry water bottles and containers along. Slow down the work schedule.. SCHEDULE work! Listen to your friends when they're being vulnerable and sharing their pain. Make conversations a main course rather than a side thing. Learn from the experiences of others and think things through. Stop relying on sound-bytes on TV for keeping track with what's happening all around the world. Stop with the mindless pursuit of money, take a step back and give yourself time to reassess your priorities : what are the things you really need in your life? Is polluting the landbase of all those communities who have no say in the matter, is consumption of all those resources really necessary to have a happy and fullfilling life? Is the way society is bring run today really the best that we can have; is it going to last the next seven generations with the way it's going? (And if you're sure it's not but are fully convinced that there is nothing you can do about it, then is it a wiser choice to stop being a burden on those who actually do want to change things for the better? ) If fuel and food prices are increasing the way they are, what outcomes can we expect in the years ahead? Is it wiser to continue with the status quo or to alter course? These kinds of things need an extreme amount of patience to ponder about.

There's a million things we can be patient about. But to ignore all of that and to only tell the victim of an abusive relationship - whether it's a husband raping you or not being there for you or a mother-in-law constantly criticizing you or a family making you work your ass off while they enjoy the good life and say this is the way it should be : to tell the victim to "have patience".. for what? For the line to be crossed beyond any logical point of return? ANY abusive behaviour is the outcome of a sense of entitlement and power over others. When left to itself, when given oodles of patience and love, when not given any real incentive to treat the other person like a normal human being, the abuse can only increase in duration, frequency and intensity until it physically makes itself impossible to continue. We're supposed to show patience and let that happen?

Not to sound rude but many amazing, free-spirited yet mature, wise people I know who have thought about things deeply and are living consciously, would slap this Guru, and so would I, for being so god damned presumptuous, admonishing and out of touch with reality.

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