Conscious Marriages 3/29/15 Part 1 of Chat

A few years ago a department was started called Conscious Marriages, because many disciples especially the mothers, ask me for help in finding a husband. Until then I had helped here and there on a more private level, giving advice and encouraging or discouraging respectively according to each case. But there was no formal project. But the repeated request from my daughters to find a husband, and the fact that in Vedic culture traditionally the father is the one who supports the process, and even though in the Western civilization the situation is different, we began the department called Conscious Marriages a few years back in Colombia.

I felt compelled to move in the direction of providing support to the devotees in general women and men, but at the same time I do not agree with marriages that are motivated by some kind of pleasure. I thought if I was involved in a marriage, my desire is that they are marriages between those devotees who are really serious about Krishna Consciousness, who have a serious plan to make a spiritual family, who are serious in their commitment to a woman or man, and instead of just talking about it they will fill out a form with your request in writing. There they write saying what they want to commit to, etc.

When we see this commitment in writing, we put it to the test. When we see two people who apparently would work together, we allow the two partners to realize if they actually want to get married or not. This is called a conscious marriage. This has already worked for about 6 years, without much success. Nor have we made it very famous in the sense that we do not talk about it all the time, but generally people know it exists and if they desire to proceed with it they can. It is a very private matter, no one knows what happens there. Who is enrolled is not publicized. The person in charge of this is the mother of Mohana who is an elder mother with 35 years in Krishna Consciousness, with three happy and balanced children happy . Laksmi has been through a lot, she had polio as a child and had trouble moving, she really is an admirable person. So I confided this service to her, besides the fact that she wrote some books on the subject, after she suffered difficulties in her marriage. Therefore she has the heart to do this service. Laksmi Sahasrara sent me nine questions for me to answer in this chat.

1. According to the statistics of the Western world, the duration of marriage is 10 years. There are 25-30% chance of divorce in this period. To make an effort, based on these statistics, seems like a bad bet. Why do you think humans continue to have faith in the institution of marriage?

My answer is that with common sense and probably connected with their tradition and belief, sacred marriage exists in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native religions (at least most). So for people to have faith in marriage they need to have very good reasons. Common sense is related to bringing children into the world with this commitment. It is more a commitment of value, an educational commitment, financial commitment, so, with so many conditions, rules and regulations are required and that is a marriage; where there is a union between women and men that is blessed and protected by the law.

2. What is the perfect formula for marriage to be successful at home?

It's a wonderful question and if I knew the answer completely and if people actually listen to me carefully, we would have a better record in our marriages. So I can only answer this according to what I feel and what I heard and based on the success we have achieved to maintain marriages who have gone through difficult times. I think especially that trying times are  the best experiences, when things go wrong and for some reason it may be amended. I do not think my experience is complete or there is nothing more to learn. Things change a bit as well, for example, we have not had the tradition of Internet at home.

So I do not think this question can be answered in a short way. It is something that is connected with a whole procedure of how to live life, and in many ways would have to be analyzed. Parenting, how to deal with problems, how to love and respect each other, how to include the spiritual master in the family especially when there are problems, or in general when it comes to service attitude; How important it is to have Krishna and His representatives in our lives, in our efforts, as well as how much He is ignored, how often we chant the Holy Name, how often we read the holy scriptures in our marriage, how conflicts are quietly discussed in marriage instead of fighting or ignoring the problem causing the internal anger to grow or to explode. If you see, all these things are part of making a successful marriage, and therefore I do not think there is a simple answer to this, rather we must study successful marriages, living beings who can give advice in times of difficulties.

I could talk a lot about this issue but there is not enough time for it now.

3. How can one control sexual desires?

Yes, this is a very interesting question. Prabhupada used to say that spiritual life is the transcendance of sexual desires towards spiritual desires. With this declaration of Prabhupada we know that lust is a problem. Krishna says that the biggest enemy, of challenges, is lust. For a Brahmacari or Visnupriya, or Sannyasi, how to control lust is by dedication to devotional service with full enthusiasm, and if this works, they can live a life of celibacy which is possible and recommended. It is recommended not to lose semen unnecessarily, but this should not be handled fanatically. In particular semen is a force that gives life, thus reproduction is commendable when performed within marriage. Therefore, the natural recommendation for those who have difficulty in taking celibacy, is to assume the consequences and prepare oneself for a nice marriage so you can take responsibility for a family properly.

Pravritti Marga (sense enjoyment), Nivritti Marga (spiritual advancement) {SB 4.25.39}, with sexual enjoyment without sexual enjoyment. With no private property and with private property. You can not be a Sannyasi preaching Krishna consciousness and simultaneously be saving money in a private account. This does not work like that, and if a Sannyasi starts having children it would be seriously incorrect. You must then marry and admit that you could not practice celibacy and accept to protect your children. In this sense we should not think that sexual control is something that belongs to an ashram, especially since if married, you should still control your sexual desires. It is a process of development that occurs throughout life; Krishna has said this is confronting the worst of enemies so He knows what He speaks, and therefore we try to advance in this tradition trying to do what our heart and inspiration dictates.

4. How  can sexual desires be controlled in those who are married or  are not, and yet have desires to have new sexual experiences with others?

Promiscuity, some people consider very bad, rejected by spiritual etiquette, but there are also others who see it as normal. We have seen a diversity of cases in our lives and on one hand absolute fidelity to the wife for life exists, which is very valuable and beautiful. And there are also cases where this has not been achieved and polygamous situations arrive. If a man has had children with more than one wife, then he cannot deny protection to any child. Therefore, these situations are brought to us by force, because we can not reject neither the first nor the second wife, nor the children of the first or second wife, they can not be placed in anxiety by rules and regulations. Why So? Because children are innocent and should not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. So it's something that happens in the community, in our society Vrinda we have polygamous situations, some accepted and others not. However, if there is more than one woman having children of a man, it is a situation that one way or another there is no turning back but it is definitely not encouraged. Some are justified in the Vedic scriptures that is to say that the kings had many wives and children. It is true, and in the time of my Gurudeva Srila Prabhupada he also forcibly accepted some polygamous situations of his disciples, which were not produced by him, meaning Prabhupada never proposed the idea of marrying more than one wife, but when it happened, definitely he wanted them to be responsible with both children.

Each case is studied according to time, place and circumstance. This is something we want to prevent but it has already happened more than once and may happen again in the future and we must accommodate according to the tests that arrive.

Especially for myself, when I am involved with the spiritual father of the first woman and man, or the second woman or man, and children, this is a big test of how you will handle human difficulties and I can say I do not like that job and is one of the most difficult challenges for me. The usually polygamous situations are mostly laid over to me by force, but, let's be open minded and perhaps what I say is not pleasing to your ears ...

I have met women in my life who for some reason are very desperate because they found no husband like they wanted. However they want a child. And for this reason they are desperately seeking someone they like so he can be the father of her child. Sometimes without even demanding that they assume responsibility for the child. I personally have been reached out to by women asking me to be the father to sons because they want to have children of devotees. I politely refuse to do so, but the rules of a ksatriya is to not refuse when they are embraced in this way.

It's a tough world. There are women who want children but found no husband due to their karma. Should you be judged for it? I do not want to judge any woman. But it is a difficult situation, and it exists, so when there is a situation like this, we must deal with it in a very spiritual and humane manner. So this is an additional issue which you did not ask.

5. Why are devout men nowadays less inclined to marry?

This is a difficult question to answer, because it requires judging people and their reasons for marrying. If someone comes to me and tells me he does not want to get married because they do not want to take responsibility for a woman, then my answer would be "very well! Do not marry because you're not going to take care of your family." To accept that someone wants to marry, I demand that they be very responsible, that they can be relied on; I want  them to be someone who gives hope to a woman and her future children that they will have a wonderful home. As we have many serious devotee couples, who give us the pleasure of seeing beautiful children grow in Krishna consciousness and then get excited to take responsibility as well in the future. This is a dream come true for a parent. At least if I were Grhastha and had had children I would dream of this for my children to grow and take the movement of Srila Prabhupada seriously, and want to spend their energy, love and capabilities to this movement.

But to pressure people to marry is not my inclination, because it is too big a job. Sometimes circumstances lead me to push people to become a temple presidency because there is nobody to do so on their own initiative and the temple is there. Similarly when someone impregnates a woman I press him to marry her because you can not simply abandon a pregnant woman. Stuff like that is a responsibility. But hey, we teach people everything we know, everything we can, Prabhupada gave us this gift so now the next job is to invite people to embrace marriage with joy. Marriage should not be embraced as a simple obligation, but must be embraced with joy.

Being a Brahmacari is a very happy period but being a Grhastha is a more intense task. It's a big task to be a good father day after day, year after year. This needs to be first class, you have to be top notch, both the mother and the devotee. I think successful Grhasthas are more admirable than an average Brahmacari. A Grhastha who takes full responsibility for his/her family is very admirable. Actually there is no competition, but from my experience I admire anyone who does a good job with his family and at the same time keeps Krishna in the center. Sure, this is the important consideration for me because I try to keep a spiritual community alive and I can only do this with the help of Brahmacaris and Grhasthas, I can not do it alone.

Sometimes people want to  get divorced after the kids are grown u[ and one does not understand why, if one already tolerated everything that was more difficult. But some people have other priorities. Something I've learned from all this is that even if they are married or divorced you have to love them both. We can not get into the mood of accepting and rejecting because it brings more problems than blessings and this is very dangerous.

So why are devotees less inclined to accept the responsibility of marriage? I guess they are afraid to be first class. They know that if they marry they must be first class, and maybe they are afraid they cannot be. Maybe they prefer a mediocre existence as Brahmacari instead of a disastrous situation of Grhastha. Something like imperfection on one side and on the other, but they prefer this type of imperfection instead.

Those who study the impact of repressed desires they also say that perhaps it explodes into another problem, and there are enough problems. I've had some devotees living in the temple and secretly going out at night dressed as women. Can you condemn it? It is a complicated issue because they also want to be with Krishna. In one way or another they have an issue with their gender identity, and want to dress like the opposite sex and What to do? I have had homosexual people who want to join my temple and in fact there are devotees who have undergone sex reassignment surgeries, and are doing important services. So life is not easy, in my service I deal with everything. We also meet homophobic people. I have been in contact with gay people even before meeting devotees. Krishna saved me from falling into it because by association one can easily fall into these things. It is something that exists, it can also be by psychological repression. There is not a proper way I know to handle this but what I do know is that love should not be excluded. Perhaps even more love in these situations are required.

Difficult situations have their reason and devotees in general are not homophobic. They are not hateful towards anyone.

6. Why are there fewer devotees on the conscious marriage page?

Sometimes I make a joke. If you want to be a candidate for a conscious marriage of our Vrinda family, you must fill out more requirements than if you were to apply for a visa to the United States. We ask many questions because we want to know who you are, what you have to offer to your partner and if someone does not like that these questions are being asked or may not have good answers to give, know intuitively that for not having good answers one is not a good candidate to receive the blessings of his spiritual master to have a wife. Perhaps this is one reason why they are not inclined to do it and we are seeing many mothers who are enrolled but not much devotees who say "I'm ready, these are my credentials."

7. How can you help a couple when they have difficulties?

The natural way of dealing with difficulties is seeking professional help. I think among devotees, especially the Grhasthas whom are more mature should do service and provide guidance to younger couples on difficulties or as necessary. Sometimes I send people to talk to older couples. I also offer guidance but sometimes I'm on the run because there is so much to do. I tell people when I will give guidance that both should agree that what I have to say to them they both will follow. But sometimes people want me to put me on their side and against the other and push me to blame the other. I've had people even arrive and begin to have a great fight. Sorry but this does not produce anything good for me. If you're not submissive at the time you seek guidance you will not have good results. There are requirements for guidance and also professional help, there's a price, so you must also give a donation so that people really appreciate. I think that if they allowed themselves to be guided, I could help hundreds of couples to stay together and overcome their problems.

There must also be seminars on Grhastha life, not only guidance for those with difficulties but also preparation for those who want to marry. And that issue we have neglected a bit. But sometimes you have to learn to swim by being in the water. Sometimes a leader learns taking leadership, learning sankirtan by to taking to the streets, and so you learn about married life when you impregnate a woman, because you did what Grhasthas are blessed to do, so now you must take charge and learn what it means. Whatever the circumstance we should be compassionate and positive. Positively guide the needy.

8. When there is no possibility of reconciliation between a couple What can you do to avoid becoming enemies?

This is very abstract to answer because so much depends on the individuals. So much depends on who you are and what to do. So I prefer to talk about this according to common sense. People should never be enemies with anyone. And if you have a child with someone, and you become enemy with whom you had a child with, then you're a total idiot. Why? Because, who do you think will pay the consequences? Who will pay the price for this mess? Children. The children will suffer much when parents fight and say hurtful words. It is traumatic for them, but I can not talk because there are some extreme situations that calls for different advice under certain circumstances. So sometimes you do not know what to say but to become enemies after divorce is a sign of immaturity in relationships. And there are people who have a child and run away, and tell me they do not want to account for their children, it is my duty to wake them up. And at the final straw you can respond and meanwhile practicing Krishna consciousness, and one is not an obstacle for the other.

9. Why do devotees feel shy entering the website of conscious marriages to have some kind of involvement?

Well I do not know. If you do not want to get married do not enter the site, although I think all devotees and especially leaders should know what the concept of the spiritual master is in relation to conscious marriages. Must take action and present their understanding to show the Guru's plan. Maybe you do not want to marry but should be willing to learn about it, because then you can give advice to others that if they want to marry or do not know of the page this is there. So sorry, but most of those who do not know of this concept of conscious marriages and are not inclined to visit the site it is because they belong to the group of lazy people who do not read anything now, unless it's something stimulating to the senses. The ability to read is not as high now, but there are also videos and materials which can learn, if that is your desire.

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