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The Question of Marriage
A Buddhist Nun on Marriage and Chastity
“It doesn’t much signify whom one marries, for one is sure to find next morning that it was someone else.” –Samuel Rogers
More has been said about the ills of marriage than the advantages. Marriage is a bribe to make a housekeeper think she is a householder. Marriage is a cage from which those within wish to escape and those without want to get in. Marriage is for men who are tired and women who are curious. Both are disappointed...
There are the rare who will never ever marry. Sensei (teacher) Yuko Tanaka is 40 and a `sanyasin’.
“I understood that spiritual practice is more important than marriage and I was 23 then,” she says with a radiant smile. “I went in for training in the temple for one year and when I returned home, my parents had fixed three matches for me. I told them I needed time to think it over. I realized that the world was a dirty place after the purity of the temple. I went back to the temple and that’s where I’ve been for 14 years.
Spiritual practice is the purpose of life. All else but the spirit is transient. Lust is an ordinary emotion and for the ordinary. I wanted to transcend it. This raises your spiritual and mental level and increases your powers of concentration. We need to realize our divine true selves. I knew that marriage would bring conflict and I didn’t want that. This tie between husband and wife is based on the deepest karma. The karma that stems mostly from enmity and revenge, and rarely from appreciation. Either you need to repay a big favour to the person who becomes your spouse, or you need to stop hating him.”
But what of the ideal mate, I asked. Is there such a thing?
“There are many kinds of people,” said Sensei. “Some part of them is good and some isn’t. One cannot say that every person has an ideal mate waiting to be found. Some people never find them. Sometimes the ideal mate comes to you but you’re blind to him. It depends on your karma from your previous lives. And remember, the more you love, the more you can hate. If you want a good person as a mate, be good yourself and he will come to you.”
Amazing revelation, isn’t it, when most of us spend a major part of our lives waiting for that ideal mate?
"I'd Rather Live With a Guy"
Says Rima Pawoosker, 29 and single, “I haven’t married yet because I have not found the right guy yet and I never really believed in marriage. I believe in living with a guy instead. If you love someone, you don’t need marriage to prove it. Marriage holds you down. Besides, I’ve seen a lot of unhappy marriages where they stay together just because they’re married. It’s ridiculous. In the future if I find the right guy maybe I’ll live with him. But I won’t feel inadequate if I don’t marry. And I don’t like the idea of having kids anyway. I don’t think I have motherly instincts as such. Many women marry for the sake of having babies. Or they marry for money. They’re totally dependent on men and need them to look after them. I want to earn my own money and be independent even if I’m living with someone.”
A Feminist View on Marriage
Then there’s the feminist. Protima Iyengar, 30, says that marriage is a burden for women and that men just need mothers to look after them and are not willing to change at all. “I’m too independent. I don’t want to pick up socks and things after a man. I’m educated and earning fairly well. I have my parents and single friends for company. I have platonic relationships with men and never felt the need for romance. I feel so fulfilled with teaching kids. You enter their world of innocence and things like marriage and romance don’t even enter your mind. I prefer to make friends with women who are single by choice, not by circumstance.” Protima says that the Banjara Academy runs a sort of singles club where single women from all walks of life meet and discuss things like art and bringing up kids as single mothers. “Women are more stable intellectually and financially today,” she adds. “They are redefining themselves.”