(Continued from yesterday's blog entry)
“There used to be saint who lived in a certain vicinity outside of a town. Although the townspeople knew of his existence and held him in great esteem, nevertheless, for the most part, they used to leave him alone.
“However, a drought had been gripping the entire region and the townspeople were becoming desperate because if they didn’t get rain soon, the crops would die and, therefore, so would many people in the community during the coming winter. A delegation from the town approached the saint and asked if he would intervene with Divinity on their behalf.
“The saint thought about the request, took a wet handkerchief from the wash he had been doing and instructed the delegation to take the piece of cloth and put it on a rock outside where it could dry. The saint’s directive was followed, and no sooner had this been done, then a heavy rain began to fall.
“The people in the delegation were extremely happy, expressed their gratitude to the saint, and thanked God for the desperately needed rain. Soon, they went back to their homes.
“About a week later, another delegation came to the saint’s home. This time, their problem was the exact opposite from what previously had been the case.
“In fact, ever since they had asked for the saint’s assistance with the drought, there had been non-stop rain. Now, their crops were in danger of being ruined because of an excess of water and an absence of sunlight.
“Hearing their plight, the saint took off a bandana which was hung around his neck and said: ‘Please take this outside while it is still raining so it can be washed. It is quite soiled in places.’
“The delegation did as requested and, immediately, as soon as they went outside, the rain stopped. They were all very happy with the change in weather, but they were also somewhat puzzled.
“Returning to where the saint had been sitting, one of the delegation members asked: ‘Sir, when you asked for something of yours to be dried, it rained, and when you wanted something of yours washed, it became dry. We don’t understand.’
“The saint raised his eyebrows and gave a shrug which seemed to say –‘Well what can one do’ – and he commented: “My relationship with God these days is such that whatever I want, the opposite is done.”
No sooner had the spiritual guide finished the story about the saint, she continued on: “One mistake which you both are making with respect to your relationship is that you don’t seem to realize what the name of the dance is that you are supposed to be doing, and you are upset because you both are trying to do one kind of dance, and Divinity is engaging you in another kind of Dance which neither of you are interested in doing -- at least, not at the present time.
“The saint in the story had learned the secret of not arguing with the Beloved because although his relationship was such that whatever he wanted, Divinity did the opposite, the saint was wise enough to change his approach to things and, thereby, operate in accordance with how Divinity wished things to go, rather than how he wished them to be. When he wanted something washed, or something dried, he sincerely wanted the washing or drying to occur, but he also knew what the result would be, and he accepted that ... completely, without resentment or feeling hurt.
“You each are doing a variation of the ‘I’ve been done dirt’ two-step, but that’s not the dance you should be doing ... not at all. Apparently, God has arranged things in a way that is the opposite of what each of you want, but you haven’t developed the wisdom, yet, to make adjustments to accept God’s way of doing things rather than your own.
“You both are being resistant to God’s will. However, you each assume the source of the conflict is a function of your respective disagreements with one another, when, in truth, the source of conflict is the way you both insist on arguing with the Beloved – in other words, Divinity.
“You don’t seem to realize you are engaged in a much more important dance than the ‘you done me dirt’ two-step because your real partner is Divinity and your spouse is just one of the ways through which God relates to you, and you to Divinity, during the course of the Big Dance -- which contrary to the opinion of many does not refer, primarily, to playing professional sports or vying for athletic championships. You show your regard, or lack thereof, for God by the way you treat your spouse, since it is God Who, for Divine reasons, puts you together as dance partners in the first place.
“Someone once said that ‘marriage is half the faith’. Since faith only develops through being tested, challenged, and placed in the forge of life, then marriage is an excellent way to strengthen and improve the quality of one’s faith because marriage is filled with struggles - both small and large.
“Among other things, marriage requires: patience, tolerance, empathy, forgiveness, repentance, sincerity, trust, kindness, compassion, love, persistence, courage, sacrifice, selflessness, nobility, magnanimity, and so many other things. Moreover, marriage needs these qualities not from just one of the partners, but from both of them.
“There are two ways of ‘dancing in the dark’. One is warm, intimate, glorious, loving – when two move as one, in synch with the music’s rhythms and moods. The other manner of dancing in the dark is when the couple bumps into things, steps on one another’s toes – figuratively and literally, and are so preoccupied with the pain
of the experience, they lose their feel for the music to which they should be dancing.
“You two have been doing the latter kind of dancing in the dark. There is a mismatch of: expectations, hopes, desires, needs, and interests. As a result, you are tripping all over one another.
“You each insist on leading and get annoyed with the other person for not following. You each hang on to your silly ideas about who is right and who is wrong.
“In a song entitled: ‘For What’s Its Worth’ by the Buffalo Springfield, there is a line which states: “Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong,” and you both are wrong in what you are doing.
“One of the worst things we can do when in a relationship is to hold onto our ideas of rightness, because when we feel we are right, we have no place left to move, and, furthermore, our sense of rightness fuels our sense of being justified in holding onto our anger, mistrust, impatience, unkindness, selfishness, and so on, ad nauseam.
When we believe we are right and justified, we tend to make moral judgements about the other person, and in making such judgements we become even more convinced that our hurt, sense of betrayal, and resentments are all justified.
“But even if one were 100% correct in all one’s accusations concerning one’s spouse, where does this really get us? It doesn’t get us anywhere because we are stuck with all our negative feelings, and we have no place to go with those negative feelings except for them to become, at best, smoldering, underground fires which flare up
under the right circumstances, and, at worse, they simply become more intense and entrenched over the years.
“If you ask married couples what they want when they start out, almost all of them would say, they want: happiness, peace, harmony, intimacy, trust, commitment, sincerity, respect. Yet, as Tolstoy, I believe, once said, ‘everybody wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.’
“And, die we must. We must die to what we want, and become alive to what God wants of us -- in marriage and out of marriage.
“How can anyone possibly hope to perform a dance of love if one is not prepared to listen to, and comply with, the music, the rhythms, and the harmonies of the Divine Band. If we insist on marching to the sound of our own drummer, we might be great individualists, but we will be lousy dance partners – and, more than anything, life is about dancing – not marching ... life is feeling the Divine music with all one’s being and learning to go with the flow of that music ... therein lies the secret of our happiness and contentment.
“When we are thoughtful, kind, compassionate, forbearing, charitable, patient, noble, and so on, we are in synch with the Divine music, and when we are in synch in this deep soulful and heart-felt manner, we experience in our souls and our hearts, the justice and love which permeates the universe. However, when we are selfish,
impatient, unkind, inconsiderate, unforgiving, and the like, then, we distance ourselves from God’s music and we introduce disharmony, injustice, and enmity as counterpoint to God’s melodies and rhythms.
“Neither partner in a marriage ought to lead. Both of them should follow the Divine lead and learn the Divine Dance.
“When we are wrong, there is room for movement. One can repent for the error one has made, and, then, struggle to become one with the truth.
“When one is right, or believes oneself to be, there is no room for movement, and one has no motivation to change one’s behavior. Consequently, it is better to assume one may be wrong and allow some degrees of freedom for improvement, rather than to presume one is right and be stuck with a lot of negative emotional baggage one cannot jettison because one has no incentive to do so – after all, why should one change if one supposes oneself to be right or justified?
“If you look at the great saints, they have a profound sense of humility and modesty. These people are friends of God, and, yet, they are quite aware of their own imperfections and are willing to accept the possibility that nearly everyone else is better than they are. They always feel there is room for improvement.
“And, yet, people who are married, most of whom are not saints, have almost no humility or modesty when it comes to issues of assuming themselves to be right or justified in how they behave or treat one another. This is a recipe for disaster.
“The purpose of marriage is not primarily about sexual intimacy, or raising a family, or establishing a home -- although all of these have their importance and their place. Rather, the primary purpose of marriage is to have an opportunity for learning about the great lessons of life: patience, kindness, commitment, sincerity, forgiveness, repentance, trust, gratitude, self-sacrifice, compassion, and love.
“This is the essence of the mystical waltz, whereas the world calls us to the Mephisto waltz, the exact opposite. When we dance to the tune of the latter, we feel nothing but pain, and, ironically, despite all of the misery the Mephisto waltz gives to us, its very nature is to induce and incite us to indulge our bad moods, attitudes, and feelings, and, in so doing, seduce us into refusing to give that dance up even though we understand it is the source of all of our unhappiness.
“One of the keys to learning the steps of the mystical waltz is to stop criticizing God’s creation - and God’s creation includes one’s spouse. With criticism, comes a hardening of our spiritual arteries, and when the life line of our hearts become constricted, then, the heart is less able to perform its intended function – which is to listen to, be in synchronicity with, and respond to, the rhythms of the music
played by Divinity for the purpose of life’s dance.
“When we judge our spouse this fuels our sense of justification for feeling angry, resentment, mistrustful, suspicious. And, such emotions are never to our advantage ... only to our disadvantage because they don’t accomplish anything of a constructive nature. All they do is underwrite discord, enmity, separation, and self-
“Now, please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying one should have to put up with endless rounds of bad behavior from one’s spouse. What I’m saying is a couple must search their hearts and determine what kind of dance they are interested in pursuing – the mystical waltz or the Mephisto waltz.
“Believe me, if a couple is truly interested in doing the mystical waltz together, then, despite whatever mis-steps there might be, they will work out the differences together in an amicable fashion, and, then, move on. Moreover, people who are sincerely committed to such a Divine dance will feel the joy and peace which comes when they die to themselves in order to be able to trip the light fantastic in
a mystical way.
“If one, or the other, or both partners in a marriage are not interested in learning how to do the mystical waltz, then, the bitter fruits of this sort of intention will be all too painfully palpable. And, under such circumstance it is better for these individuals to say “Peace” and go their separate ways so that they might find partners who share common values and purposes, and who are like-hearted with respect to the nature of the dance they wish to do.
“Just as the moon is the last outpost of light from the sun in the night sky, so, the soul is the last outpost of light from the spirit, in the darkness of the material world. When two people become one in the mystical waltz, then, as they dance their dance of harmony and intimacy in the darkness, it is like dancing with the moon, for, by the Grace of God, the light of the spirit shines upon their souls, and the night becomes bright with the sound of music ... Divine music -- and there is only one Source of rhythms, and one Source of movement, and one Source of intimacy, and one Source of melody, and all purposes are reconciled.”