My beloved wife of 8 years, Chameli, has left me for the sunny beaches of Corfu. I would feel a lot more upset about this if it would not for the fact that she’ll be back soon, and sends me the most delicious love notes every day. And anyway, I have gone back to my old lover. The first thing I do when I wake up each morning, is to turn to her and melt with her completely. Last thing I do before sleep is to give her my undivided attention for half an hour. She always opens herself to me, sooner or later, and her kisses are other-worldly. Her name in meditation, and I have flirted with her on and off for forty years now.

So this is actually a beautiful time to be alone for a while, to be a monk and to have time to reflect on the miracle of our life.

You’ve probably noticed that a lot of the ways that we all relate with our intimate partner are carbon copies of, or rebellious reactions to, the way that our families behaved. For the most part, people who grow up in an atmosphere of conflict, or manipulation, or cruelty, seem to carry those habits forward. And those who are lucky enough to grow up in an honest, open, loving environment stand a batter chance at creating the same for themselves in their own lives.

For myself, I belong in category one. My parent divorced in a messy way when I was 4 years old (come to think of it, I wonder if there’s an un-messy way to get divorced?) and neither of them ever really created deeply loving or sustainable relationships in their lives. Sure enough, by the time that I got to be a teenager, I became painfully aware that the same patterns was recreating for me too. Exactly the same habits of judgement, control, and withdrawal were playing out in my own personal life, in the same way I’d seen them play out in my parents’ lives.

There came a pivotal point for me when I was forty four years old, after my marriage, and several other relationships following it, had crumbled apart. One night I sat on my deck under the stars, and had a stark realization.  If I died one day, never having fully loved, it would not actually be ok. No amount of meditation, or other kinds of practices could actually compensate for not fully loving. In that moment I saw that this was something I would have to put straight in order to feel I had really lived. About three weeks later, I met an extraordinary woman, she was loving, humorous and beautiful, but also a fierce spiritual practitioner. When I first met her, she had just come back from an extended retreat where she had come to exactly the same conclusion as I had. A mentor had told her, ”The love you are trying to get from the outside is actually who you already are.” I was so impressed by the depth and dedication of this young woman’s practice that we developed a deep friendship, comparing notes all the time by e mail on how to bridge the painful schism between the depths of meditation and the actually of intimate relationship.

Chameli and I have been married now for eight years, and what we have created is a miracle. If you had told me all those years back that I would have this kind of marriage, I would have laughed in your face. Some people might call it luck: you just have to meet the right person. Some might attribute it to the bruisings of aging and time. But I would chalk up the ecstatic triumph of this marriage to the consistent use of very specific practices which have allowed us not to change the quirks of our personalities (which are, by the way, irreparably broken), but to change the relationship we have to those habits.

I’d love to share more about this very intimate topic with you. It would be better to have a dialog about it.  Are you free to join me by phone or over the web this Thursday, June 17th at 6pm Pacific Time?  In this call, which will be about an hour, I will share with you the six most important “keys” to creating an ecstatic marriage out of the basic raw materials.  You can interact with me during the call, and dialog over the phone or through a web site.  If you can’t make it live, register anyway, and you can hear the recording on the same page. During the call I’ll also tell you about the Deeper Love retreat-at-home, which Chameli and I have been creating together these last months. I’ll also tell you about the Deeper Love seminar we’ll be doing in Europe this September.

REGISTER FOR THE CALL HERE

all my love, dear friends, Arjuna

and now, back to the meditation cushion…

intimacy2

I’ve been greatly blessed in my life by being with with many great teachers.  I was close for many years to H.W.L. Poonja (people called him Papaji), and it was he who initially asked me to be a teacher of awakening.  I had some fantastic visits with Urgyen Tulku Rimpoche who was at that time the lineage holder for the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.  But my greatest teacher, my greatest guru by far, has been my marriage with my wife Chameli.  It has rooted out habit patterns which no other teacher has managed to do.  This marriage has been a portal to a depth of love and spaciousness that nothing else has come close to.

It has not always been this way.  After Poonja first asked me to teach I returned to the west and conducted “Satsang” for many years.  It’s easy in a context like that, when people gather together to meditate and to receive teaching, to experience a kind of “Big Love”, a love for everyone and everything.  Your heart is open, and you know things to be perfect just as they are.  The challenge I found at that time, which turned out to be true for many other teachers as well, was not at the Satsang meetings, but at home in ordinary human relationships.  The Big Love, the love you feel for everyone, is easy.  It’s the small love, the love you feel for people close to you where we experience our habits of control, closing down, criticism and judgment.  And so it was that I found myself in my early forties traveling the world as a spiritual teacher, but not being able to hold my own marriage together.

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