The importance of marriage and family
In the current issue of Back to Godhead magazine my wife, Archana-siddhi d.d. wrote an article about the latest craze in the self improvement, "personal growth" world, "The Secret". She tried her best to present a balanced view since there are many truths in that book which are indeed universal. She mainly was objecting to the Book and DVD's use of what is called, "the law of attraction" for solely material reasons, when in truth this is the law which determines where we will go at the time of death (see Bhagavad-gita ch. 8 vs 5,6 & 7).
Still not everyone was entirely pleased with her presentation. There are many types of devotees covering the whole gamut of motivations. Our Krishna conscious philosophy is very high in its' ideal, yet according to our desires and level of spirituality, we will practice it with varieties of mixed motivations. That is natural. We should approach Krishna for whatever reason, while striving to understand and practice the standard of pure, materially unmotivated, uninterrupted service.
I bring this up because as writers we have to expect that people will either misunderstand us or not like what we write. My wife anticipated such a possible reaction. She commented on my last blog regarding the part of the verses which read, "freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest" . So Archana was concerned that any new people who read that verse might wonder about it. On the face of it, it might seem odd, and perhaps breed irresponsibility regarding family duties and necessities. Family is the basis of any society, and its' children are the future.
We are members of the "Grihastha Vision Team" which is a group of devotee therapists and educators working to create support and education for prospective and existing devotee couples, primarily in North America. (www.vaisnavafamilyresources.org) One of the problems we face is an old misunderstanding of the concept of detachment from family.
The majority of people will enter married life. As devotees, we are supposed to make our home life an "ashram" or a place for spiritual cultivation. Married devotees are called, "grihastha" when their goal is for spiritual attainment and working actively to achieve that. They want to make spirituality the basis of their relationship with their spouse and children, as well as whatever is required to maintain that.
Married life means an acknowledgment of material desires and attachments in order to work through them. If we are successful in married life, than although we have love for our children and spouse, we feel peaceful, and can focus without distraction on our spiritual practices. We will feel when our children our grown, and we see young couples with children, "Been there, done that".
As my wife often says, she has finished her desire for having children. From her son she feels the satisfaction of being a mother, and has learned and continues to learn valuable life lessons. She was able to use her desires in relationship to Krishna, so now she can feel satisfied with the course of her life, and can be more resolved in her later years to focus on Krishna with no regrets. Of course during all these many years of being a parent we have kept up our spiritual practices, but now that our children our grown there is more time for our spiritual cultivation.
Said another way in regards to family and spouse, we don't start out "acting" renounced, we have to work through attachment and desires in order to properly nurture, support and take care of our self, spouse and children. At the same time we have to cultivate love and service to Krishna.
Then we will be mature retired people with both husband and wife feeling satisfied they went through what they needed to; the children will have the example of loving, balanced, happy and Krishna conscious parents; and the larger devotee community will have wise elders to help the next generation of couples and families.