H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Monday, 24 January 2011

Family Matters (Part Three) - By Matsya Avatara Dasa (Marco Ferrini)

Right and Wrong Decisions

We should try to be honest and serious, first of all with ourselves. We should have a balanced vision and not accept the people’s vow of lifelong celibacy at a young age, without having shown tangible signs of maturity and dominion over the senses. This maturity should be on different planes: cognitive, emotional and behavioral. A choice that is the best in absolute terms, can produce serious damages if made at the wrong time, due to the person's lack of preparation. If not properly helped, the person who incurs in such difficulties generally develops a sense of self-failure and a heavy sense of guilt, which eventually cause inhibition, depression, emotional blocks and a stop to spiritual progress. This sense of guilt can be defined as pathological, whereas a healthy and beneficial sense of guilt arises when the person is aware of his mistakes and deeply repents them, finding in himself, guru and Krishna, the energies to rise above them.
Regarding such sensitive issues, specifically connected to life in the grihastha ashrama, over many years I have noticed a vast symptomatology and many damages produced by hasty decisions and a rigid mentality. Many marriages have failed because the person experiencing difficulty in restraining the senses―when confronted with an overly rigid partner―has looked for satisfaction outside the marriage, starting love affairs and betraying the spouse, thus producing a hellish condition for all the people involved.
I recall a whole list of rigid people who first ruined their family members and then ruined themselves. Real affection means to come forward to the needs of others, and I believe that every real need in the family has to be taken into serious consideration. If a person thinks that he or she can't or shouldn’t concede anything, absolutely nothing, such person should not get married. And if he does get married, throughout his whole matrimonial life he will be bitterly reminded that he should not have married. Couple means two people, two people who promise to help each other for the rest of their lives. If one is in need and the other doesn't help, I don't know how this refusal could be beneficial for his spiritual advancement, and how it could be done in the name of devotion for Krishna. Of course there can be embarrassment, little enthusiasm and whatever else, but something has to be done to help.
I have seen so many cases of conflict and I have come to the deep conviction that there must be a mediation, there must be reciprocal affection, reciprocal care. When the desire for intercourse assumes a dangerous psychological proportion―producing a "fixed idea," a true neurosis―we should act as with any other disease, looking for a remedy and a cure. When I acted as a direct witness and I advised people in this way, they often solved their problem brilliantly, gradually finding balance, detachment and serenity, discovering a type of affection that was not based on sexual intercourse. Real affection, spiritual affection, has no need for sexual intercourse or physical contact. Such affection is the achievement of the target of bhakti, and is obtained after a long practice; it is not a starting point. At the beginning the couple might endeavor to overcome the problem, but to rise above it, the effort must be equipped with enough capacity and experience, and above all enough cultural and spiritual maturity in Krishna consciousness.

Cultural Conditioning

I spoke about religious duties, but now I wish to mention the cultural environment where each of us―consciously or unconsciously―lives. Over the last century, Western culture has been increasingly fascinated by rationalism and materialism, progressively polluting itself with a pseudo-scientific literature that has considerably contributed to the development of a dangerously permissive sexual behavior. Such literature has induced people to think of eroticism and sexual acts as something physiologically necessary, comparing sex desire to the need for food and air. Not only they have presented the satisfaction of such an urge as inevitable; they have even declared that whoever neglects it will develop psychological disorders. It is difficult to calculate the extent and harm that such mentality has caused and is causing. It is truly a social and psychological plague, both on the collective and on the individual level.

Spiritual Affection

On the plane of spiritual realization, of spiritual affection and friendship, sexual intercourse becomes totally needless, extraneous and artificial. But, as we know, people acquire perfection after long efforts. According to the shastra, a married couple that can transcend illicit sex is on the direct, true path towards perfection. Until there are distractions, spiritual realization is overcast and shadowed.
Besides, the authoritative sastric statements in this regard, the results of scientific research made by some American universities (Wisconsin, 1968) demonstrate that numerous couples can live well without sexual intercourse, provided they cultivate their interest for elevated ethical values.
First of all―as I said at the beginning of my answer―people should try hard to abstain from extra-conjugal sex, because this generates hellish conditions in the society, in the family, in the couple and in the relationship between parents and children. Such illicit connections, metaphorically speaking, create hell; they create great embarrassment and pain; they condemn children to experience distress and harmful life-models, and condemn the spouse to anguish and deep suffering. Illicit sex in family life is like giving methadone to a heroin-addict. Methadone is better than heroin (extra-conjugal sex), but better than methadone is to rise above the problem. Methadone also creates addiction, but not as strong and devastating as the addiction created by heroin. Illicit sex in family life creates dependence, addiction and identification with the body, besides being a great waste of energy―but there is no comparison with illicit sex out of the wedlock.
When my students intend to get married I ask them to get to know each other very well, and should thoroughly inquire about the other's choices and priorities in life. They should become deeply aware of the responsibility, the obligation, and the onerousness they assume in getting married. Then, I become the witness, and I commit myself to help both of them to overcome all the difficulties and to face their responsibilities, which include economical, social, and emotional aspects. These are all comprised in the sphere of family responsibility and, consequently, of spiritual realization.
As I told you many times, ultimately to solve this type of problems the real solution is to seriously adopt a Krishna conscious mentality... But now I believe I should stop here with the answer. Obviously, given the magnitude and complexity of the theme, this answer will not satisfactorily exhaust the various topics touched, but it will merely serve as an orientation tool for deeper study and meditation.

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