Somewhere in the writings of Alice Bailey it’s said that family life and marriage are the crucible of the spiritual life. I think that’s a very interesting image because a crucible is a bowl in which something is ground up, pulverized, and made into a new element or a new potion. Certainly, that’s what happens to the soul in going through a marriage. You become, in a sense, new and remade; hopefully for the better. 

Robert: Welcome to Inner Sight. Inner sight is simply seeing that which is always present but not yet fully recognized. You have within you the ability to see yourself and the world around you in a new way with new eyes. So, stay with us and together we’ll look at the world and ourselves with inner sight. Our theme for today is marriage. Alice Bailey is the founder of Lucis Trust, which sponsors this show, and she has written twenty-four volumes of literature. This is an excerpt from one of her books: “There is no better training school for spiritual development than family life, with its enforced relations, its scope for adjustments and adaptability, its demanded sacrifices and service and its opportunities for the full expression of every part of one’s nature.” This comment by Alice Bailey doesn’t seem to be the prevailing view of marriage. Why is that? 

Sarah: Well, it might have to do with the fact that she mentions things like “sacrifice,” “adaptability,” “service,” “adjustment,” all of those “enforced relations.” Those are all qualities that you learn in hitching your wagon to that of another person and going through life together. It touches on the obligations, the responsibilities and, yes, the sacrifices that come into the marriage relation, and those don’t seem to be very popular terms today. I’m not sure what the change in thinking is. Maybe it has to do with the emphasis on self-fulfillment that is so prevalent today and that’s important too: that we come into a better awareness of ourselves as souls. But Alice Bailey would say that marriage doesn’t work against self-fulfillment, that it actually fosters it. 

Dale: Yes. One of the things that marriage fosters is the sense of responsibility and that’s very important. You have to learn responsibility for your spouse, your children, your possessions, your house and home. So, it forces one to look outward from that self. I think perhaps one of the reasons why the prevailing view of marriage is different today is because, like you said, there is a selfishness and a certain self-centeredness that’s kind of taken over. And it probably comes out in ways like the excess, the emphasis on materialism today, the home, all the stuff that we have in our home, the cars and all of that. The marriage seems to evolve around these material things and the prenuptial agreements. But as I said, I think it develops responsibility and that’s a very important element if one can realize it. 

Sarah: It’s said in the Ageless Wisdom that the sense of responsibility is the first indication of the presence of the soul. So, to be responsible to, and for, someone else is a sign that the soul is becoming more dominant in one’s consciousness. The Ageless Wisdom has a very interesting view of the spiritual basis of marriage. It’s based on the spiritual law of attraction, which has to do with the masculine and feminine polarities—speaking in terms of an electrical polarity—which form a union and a complete whole in the marriage relation. If we thought of marriage as the union of polarities, with naturally a certain amount of friction and adjustment, maybe we could be a little more accepting and a little more broad-minded and tolerant of the process of adjustment that marriage forces the soul to undergo. Somewhere in the writings of Alice Bailey it’s said that family life and marriage are the crucible of the spiritual life. I think that’s a very interesting image because a crucible is a bowl in which something is ground up, pulverized, and made into a new element or a new potion. Certainly, that’s what happens to the soul in going through a marriage. You become, in a sense, new and remade; hopefully for the better. 

Robert: I hope people can recapture some of the old attitudes and values towards marriage. I heard a very disturbing statistic not too long ago about how today two out of three marriages are ending in divorce. So, I think this is a much-needed program and I’m glad that Alice Bailey has written about it. But why do you think that marriage is undergoing so much questioning today? 

Sarah: Well, there are many reasons. One has to do with the changing role of women. In the old days, women were literally dependent and beholden to the husband. I think the real dictionary meaning of husband is protector and provider. The woman depended on that protection and that economic support of the husband. He provided the home, the money, and sustained the living standard for the family. Now women, being more oriented toward careers themselves, aren’t so dependent economically on the support of a husband, so it gives them a little more independence and freedom in life. They have a sense of their own self-development that they want to fulfill in life and if they see marriage as a limitation or an infringement of their spiritual and personal development, then they’re not going to look on the institution very positively. There are other factors that have to do with the different attitudes towards marriage today. Maybe one is the lack of willingness to endure for the long haul, which we see in so many aspects of society today. It seems to me—maybe this isn’t true—but it seems that people in olden times had the capacity to endure, to wait patiently, to keep a commitment, where now there’s more reluctance to maintain those commitments in that patient waiting. In today’s age, the pace of life has stepped up so fast and our attention span for many reasons is much shorter; it seems to me that people may not be willing to just wait things out. And marriage, like all things in life, has cycles; ups and downs, periods of ebb and flow, and there can be periods in a relationship where things are not so good and you have to wait it out and work through it and come out into a better spell—if you stick it out. 

Dale: Yes, it’s that element of persistence that I think is very important. You don’t just let it all fall apart and collapse because of the first little argument you have, because every marriage goes through those phases. Speaking of the spiritual aspect of marriage, marriage is building a relationship which enables the energy of love to flow. I think that’s one reason why we have the whole institution of marriage, for this coming together of negative and positive elements and this allows energy to flow. Literally, the energy of love. It’s building a relationship which is so important to the whole evolutionary plan of this planet, if you want to put it in those terms, building relationships and allowing this continuous flow of energy. It’s called, in the Alice Bailey books, the divine circulatory flow. It’s this great flow of love from God into humanity, and then from humanity back to God, and it’s a continuous flow. That’s what comes out in the marriage; as long as the marriage is harmonious and flowing and loving, then that energy will flow. So, it not only helps in the marriage relationship itself, but you’re also contributing to the flow of energy throughout the planet. So, we might think of it that way. 

Sarah: And I think this present period that we’re going through—really throughout the world, where marriage is being reconsidered, where the role of women and the obligations of men and so on and so forth, where all of this is coming into question—I think this is a very productive period because in these crises, where old values are being reconsidered and questioned, something new and better can emerge in the consciousness of human beings. So, this past century, when divorce has become so much more prevalent, it has been a very painful period and the personal suffering of people is indescribable. But I think, out of this requestioning and reconstitution of the marriage relation, there will emerge a more spiritual sense of marriage and a more egalitarian approach to the institution, where women aren’t so completely dependent on men, and men are liberated from the dependence of the woman and can become more equal partners. So, I think the present period, painful as it is, is leading to something better; but probably nobody really has a clue what’s going to come out of it. 

Dale: No, it’s a long process, but as far as I’m concerned, all marriage is preparatory for the great marriage between heaven and earth, which will take place in the future at some time. It’s the marriage between the human kingdom and the spiritual kingdom, or the Kingdom of God. So, it’s preparing us for this: the great marriage in Heaven, as it’s sometimes referred to in the Bailey books. 

Robert: I think what I’ve gotten from this discussion that’s so profound is, we really have to put time and effort into working on a marriage to make it successful. But what are your ideas? What makes a good relationship? 

Sarah: Well, I think Benjamin Franklin had a good viewpoint. He said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards.” (laughter) I think what he was referring to was, go into marriage with open eyes and a clear sense of the other person and your likely partnership together, and after you are married, learn to overlook a lot of the little stuff. I think the more successful marriages work because the people involved don’t make a mountain out of every little molehill; they learn to overlook and accept and be silent in the face of a lot of the little irritations that normally come into any shared life. Recently I was reading a book by a writer named Iris Krasnow. It’s a book called Surrendering to Marriage. (laughter) You get a sense from the title—surrendering to marriage. She has some very interesting insights on how to make a marriage work, and it’s not at all idealized. She shares a lot of her personal experience, which is, that marriage is a struggle and not easy and takes day in day out effort. But she expresses a sense of commitment that both she and her husband share that, I think, as Dale said, is really a significant factor in marriage. Somebody once said to me that when you are married, you take a vow and that is no small thing. The person I was talking to was trying to explain the difference between living with someone and being married to them. When you marry, you take a vow and I don’t know that we really realize how serious that is when we do it, especially if you’re married in a religious ceremony; you’re making a vow before God, for better or worse, and in sickness and in health. But then when something goes wrong, people say, “Well, wait a minute. I didn’t have this in mind.” And sometimes they say, “I’m outta here.” But we did promise, through thick and thin and for better or for worse. Life has a way of testing us on that. 

Dale: Right, and every day as we go through these little tests, I think one of the little things that we can do is—well, it’s not a little thing, it’s a pretty big thing actually—but be able and willing to say, “I’m sorry.” Because there are so many times during the relationship that you just get into little arguments over petty little things, and somebody’s got to take the initiative and just stand back and get the little ego out of the way and say, “I’m sorry, yes, you’re right,” and try to see the point of view of the other person and patch it up, because it isn’t this big thing and these little things should not get out of hand. Quite often they do, and they just tear people apart, and they don’t forget them; they just hang on to it. 

Sarah: Forgiveness is part of an essential attribute for the spiritual path and being able to say “I’m sorry” and, on the other hand, to forgive wrongs that have been done to you are deeply spiritual lessons that we all have to learn in marriage, and family life can teach those. If we think of forgiveness as giving for the larger good—in other words, giving up your own personal sense of self-righteousness for the greater good of the future relationship—then we can see why it’s so important that we learn to forgive and that we humble ourselves enough to be apologetic and to recognize transgressions. All of these experiences that we go through in family and marriage life, over and over and over again, are training for the soul to learn what right relationship is, and that’s why family life, as I said earlier, is the crucible of the spiritual life. In all of these adjustments, sacrifices and unselfish relinquishment, you learn to integrate yourself into something larger, whether it’s the family or the community, or eventually the world. You become a part of a greater whole. 

Dale: Yes. You just mentioned the word integrate and that reminds me of how in the Bailey books, she mentions it’s important to build a relationship not just on the physical aspect. Every human being is made up of a physical body, and we have an emotional nature, and we also have a mind. There are three aspects to every person, and it’s called the threefold lower nature. Now when it comes to a marriage and building a relationship with another person, then it’s important that all three of these so-called bodies or vehicles be in sync with each other. I think perhaps it would be best to go through this process even before the marriage, so you can work it out that the attraction not just be at the physical level. Because if it is, if there is no compatibility on the emotional side or the mental side, then the whole thing’s going to fall apart. The physical attraction alone is just not strong enough to hold it together. But if there is this coming together and compatibility at the emotional level and also in the mind, if the two minds begin to think together alike, then you will have a complete marriage in all three aspects. That’s very important in so far as integration. 

Sarah:  And coming back to this question of what makes a good relationship, in addition to what you’re saying, Dale, another thought that occurs to me is that when you marry, you have to create some kind of a goal that the two of you can work toward and strive towards. In other words, the partnership can’t just be a two-way flow of energy, or it becomes a kind of a selfish duality between the two people. There has to be the third point in a sense, whether it’s the bringing of children into the family or the sharing of some kind of spiritual orientation, religious faith or a charitable commitment. Maybe the couple shares a work of some sort, but you have to have something that both of you strive toward and serve beyond your own self interests. And another aspect—coming back to the book by Iris Krasnow, Surrendering to Marriage—is the importance of loving kindness in marriage. Those people that we live with in the family, and in some extent our co-workers in the day-to-day environment, are sometimes the people that we treat most casually because we’re so familiar with them, and because they’re there every day and that can so easily descend into kind of a crass lack of respect for the sensitivities that they have. She gave the example of her husband, who never picked up his clothing, who left it strewn around. They had constant arguments about it. It drove her crazy! Finally, her spirit broken after years of this, she gave up and she decided to just start putting his stuff away. Well, his reaction amazed her. He was so surprised by her cessation of nagging and arguing that he responded with real tenderness and loving kindness toward her. It taught her a great lesson about what’s really important; not getting somebody to change in the way you think they should, but just loving them. And it brought her more love in return. 

Robert: The most important thing is, of all the people in this world, we should be most loving and respectful of our spouse. Alice Bailey says, “There is no better training ground for spiritual development than the marriage relation, rightly used and rightly understood.” Can marriage therefore actually help one trying to live a spiritual life? 

Sarah: It can help and it can hinder. And what I mean is, I’ve known of examples of people where one spouse becomes oriented toward a spiritual path and the other person doesn’t share it, and that can sometimes unfortunately lead to a separation or a real cleavage; if there isn’t an adjustment, it can be a real crisis in the marriage. But it can also be an opportunity for two people to really grow and fuse in the sense of the union of the soul if they share an increasingly spiritual view of life. 

Dale: Yes, that’s probably a much more common happening today because the mind is awakened in so many more people and their interests are awakening to all kinds of new things. So, perhaps that happens more and more in marriages; the interests of one spouse goes off in a direction that is not the interest of the other one, and so they go off in different directions and it’s a terrible thing. 

Sarah: I think another important thing to remember in marriage is that you marry to love someone, not necessarily to be loved. You hope you’ll be loved, but what’s most important is that you marry because you love someone and you want to serve them—spiritually. It’s quite a different perspective if you think about it, but most people probably go into marriage so that they will be loved, and that’s where the disappointment comes in because they have married a frail human being, with faults and weaknesses, and that perpetual flowing of love that they envision coming to them doesn’t manifest on the day-to-day level, and they give up. But if we go into marriage with the idea that we want to learn to love more deeply, who should we love more than the person we’re with? As Iris Krasnow pointed out, if you leave someone in search of another person that you think will be more loving, you’re going to bring yourself along, (laughter) which means you’re going to bring along the very problems you’ve got right now. It won’t help. Love the one you’re with. 

Dale: Didn’t her husband have a comment about the marriage? 

Sarah: Yes, she would ask him after their fights, “Do you think we’ll stay married?” And he would always answer yes. And she would always ask him, “Why? How can you say that?” And he would say, “Because you’re my wife.” (laughter) 

Robert: Solid logic to that. 

Sarah: Makes sense. (laughter) 

Robert: It sounds right to me! I think you’re right, if we’re going to put on a spiritual consciousness toward any aspect of humanity, it’s something we should do to all of humanity but especially towards our spouse. I think both of you are right on target with that. That’s about all the time we have for our discussion today. You’ve been listening to Inner Sight. Now we’d like to close with a world prayer called the Great Invocation. It’s a call for light and love and goodwill to flow into the world and into our hearts. Let’s listen for a moment to these powerful words. 

Sarah: Closes the program by reciting the adapted version of the Great Invocation

(This is an edited transcript of a recorded radio program called “Inner Sight”. This conversation was recorded between the host, Robert Anderson, and the then President and Vice-President of Lucis Trust, Sarah and Dale McKechnie.)

(Transcribed and edited by Carla McLeod)




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