Marriage is supposed to be the legal recognized union between two beings, right? It used to be strictly male and female, but now the spectrum is broadening to allow marriage to include same sexed couples to join in legal bond. But are either depictions the ‘true’ marriage? What does this outward representation of rights symbolize for each one of us individually? It is time to give three cheers for the ‘true union’ – the inner marriage. What does that mean? Let’s take a look at the history of marriage first.
History of Marriage
In early nomadic tribes, married women were given their own tent, or the ‘inner sanctum’ of the husbands house -so as to have a ‘place of their own’ to abide in peacefully and privately. With these requirements came certain duties that both the husband and wife were obliged to perform – though they were independent in many respects -as the marriage itself offered certain freedoms as well as duties. Ancient Greece held no specific ceremonies for what we would call ‘marriage’ only the acknowledgment of the couple that they were indeed in such a relationship.
In early Christian times (30-325 C.E.) marriage was a private, personal affair to which no organization – religious or otherwise – involved themselves. It wasn’t until 1753 that the Marriage Act, created by Lord Hardwicke in England, that a formal wedding ceremony became required.
Many cultures, such as Celtic and Druid sects would (and many still do) perform ‘handfasting’ ceremonies that would unite couples for one year, after which the marriage would be reassessed and either joined for another year, or dissolved.
The Mystical Marriage
According to yogic as well as other mystical traditions, there is an inner union called ‘the sacred marriage.’ The culmination of years of practice in martial arts, yoga, meditation and various other strict disciplines results in the union between ones own inner masculine with the inner feminine counterpart. When this occurs, it is said that the brain hemispheres come into absolute harmony, emitting constant alpha and theta waves and the breath becomes even into both nostrils of the nose simultaneously.
This inner union, or inner marriage is worth striving for by any sovereign individual as the benefits are stamina, health, vitality, longevity and a peaceful disposition, according to sources. Yogic wisdom points to the longing of every human being to attain this inner state of peace and harmony and the reason why every person is compelled to look for such an experience in the ‘outside’ world.
Why do people ‘marry?’ For tax benefits? For child care security? National recognition? That ‘Mrs.’ title in front of one’s name? Really, is it any of these things? Sure, in part, these things seem to bring security in the recognized future and in the moment for many. The true reasons why people marry are likely more along the lines of companionship, love, camaraderie, family units and partnership. These are basic human needs that cross every social and political, every racial and age boundary. In many traditions, marriage is the recognition of a commitment to be there for another human being throughout hardship where contrarily, in some cultures it has long been a family arrangement of convenience and wealth.
The internal marriage is significant when we look at how it might affect the way marriage is viewed in the ‘outside world.’ What if everyone was married in this internal way – united first in themselves within – before seeking ‘completion’ with another being? More than three cheers would likely be heard across the world for the marriage that prepared all to love another without expectation or condition. The reasoning and reality behind a person becoming ‘united’ within is that basic inner harmony is achieved leaving less for ‘another’ person to try and fulfill. When one feels complete unto themselves then adding another into the mix becomes a beautiful companionship where both are free to express who they are authentically without fear of rejection.
Divorce is prevalent in today’s world – averaging more than half of all marriages ending in separation. Perhaps the problem is not the marriage, but the unreasonable expectations placed on another human being to fill a place that ought to be filled by the self – within. Perhaps if each individual took responsibility for their own inner happiness and allowed union with another to be a joyful display of sharing life’s beauty, there would be less need for divorce.
In yoga, the inner masculine is called ‘pingala’ (in Chinese medicine it is yang) and the inner feminine ‘ida’ (or yin)- representing the solar and lunar forces, respectively. In the average person, one energy or the other is active at any given time. You know people who display largely masculine qualities of reason, logic, linearity, aggression, dynamic energy, action and organization. Others are more tilted to the ‘feminine’ expressions of creativity, intuition, healing, receptivity, caring, nurturing and inner vision. We have been conditioned to think we are either one or the other and so it makes sense that we would ‘draw into our lives’ or marry, one who is our ‘opposite’ in many ways – for balance. Right? This is often the case in same sex unions, where one in the partnership is more masculine and the other feminine. We see this in heterosexual couples as well – and it isn’t always the man who is more masculine.
In the case of the inner marriage, what some might call the ‘true union’, there would not be an issue of playing out one role or the other. In the inner marriage, each person becomes a whole, balanced being – displaying both masculine and feminine qualities in one form. This way, any two ‘whole’ people could come together and harmoniously share a life -whether in the legal bonds of ‘marriage’ or simply as partners in this life journey. The way to obtain this harmony is through practice and intention, for anyone can reach such a state of balance – though often there are strides to take in realizing this for oneself. This is one of the main purposes for the creation of yogic and martial arts techniques, to support the individual in attaining inner peace and balance.
No matter who you are or what your sexual preference is, it matters not, when it comes to practicing the ‘true union’ of inner marriage – and whomever can attain this state of inner peace – they deserve three cheers at last. When more people can turn attention from the ‘other’ to the self and take responsibility for what is being projected from the inner realm – we will most likely see a huge decline in divorce rates and possibly even the outward over-obsession with traditional marriage. Marriage can be a beautiful thing or a horror, depending on who is engaged in it. Anyway you slice the cake- the word ‘marriage’ is derived from the Latin mātrimōnium which combines the two concepts mater meaning “mother” and the suffix -monium signifying “action, state, or condition.” So, to be married is an nurturing action or state of being and it would be beneficial that society returns to this association in order to find harmony within.
Written by: Stasia Bliss