The other day I read a statement by a “guru” (who claims to have thousands of devotees) that all men are polygamous by nature. Ah, I thought, brilliant excuse! Let’s blame Nature for all the dishonesty and delusion we see around, clearly this works just fine for your sheeplings, for now they have the perfect justification to play the field.
Now what do I really think of his statement? Simply that such generalizations are asinine. First of all, due to genetics, circumstance and environment etcetera, no two humans are exactly alike; Secondly, no human needs to continue to be a slave to habit or predilections, no matter how strong these habits are, or for how many generations they have been an accepted part of the misogynistic fabric of certain societies.
So you want to play the field and keep your options open? No one should have a problem with that—it’s your precious life after all, and it is you who will have to pay the karmic piper. But please keep in mind that your freedom comes with a corresponding duty—which is to respect the freedom of another precious soul. If you want to mess around, by all means do so, but have the decency and the courtesy to do so transparently, so that others can decide whether they want to have you in your lives or not.
India is well known for her practice of the arranged marriage. When I was a fiery young thing, the very thought of my parents (whom, I must confess, I had little faith in when it came to such matters) choosing a husband for me was pure anathema. How dare anyone decide for me who I should live with, etcetera? Much later, when I came across the brilliant accuracy of some vedic astrologers, who would study the charts of a couple and decide whether they would do well together, my original antipathy towards arranged marriages dissolved. I could appreciate that in some cases, especially in traditional eastern societies where young people are sternly discouraged from interacting with the opposite sex and so would prefer to rely on mum and dad to hook them up. But I am still fiercely against anyone, man or woman, being forced into marriage. In fact, you would be amazed at the number of young Indians over the years who have written to me complaining that their parents are trying to force them to get married to someone of their choosing. I usually tell them a couple of things: 1) it’s your precious life, not theirs; make your own decisions or you might live to regret it; 2) you don’t have to have kids no matter what your elders say. There are enough unwanted kids in the world already. If you honestly believe you can be a good parent, adopt. Whether they listen to me or not I don’t really care; all I can do is make suggestions based on who I am.
In the eastern view, gender is a temporary fiction. The I AM, which rests at the base of the egoic structure is both male and female; in its purest form, it transcends gender. To tell men they are entitled to act in a way that women are not is therefore a crime and leads to great suffering. The Sufis speak of the Inner Beloved, which is neither male nor female, but a composite and a Whole. If we truly want a mate, then it is best to dig deep into a single relationship so we can strike sweet water, or conversely, if you prefer to walk alone, to study and practice seriously so you can come into contact with your inner blissful nature.
In my view, and that of many sages, seers and yogis, monogamy is an excellent practice for the seeker. After all we can only taste richness when we commit to one thing or one person (in the intimate realm, at least). Easy to flit from honey pot to honey pot, but by staying the course with the right person (yes, it is important that we select our mate carefully for otherwise the bond can turn into pure hell), we have a shot at growing to our highest potential.
Now for a little true story: While working at a Manhattan law firm, I made friends with a young lawyer whose father was one of the wealthiest men in that fabulously rich city. He and his gang of equally rich friends used to frequent night clubs and make bets that they could snare the prettiest girl around. This went on for years until one day this guy met a girl he felt strongly about; so strongly, in fact, that he wanted to commit to her, and possibly even marry her. He was terribly confused, because his peers all laughed at him and said he was a stupid jerk not to partake of the willing female abundance his money and good looks gave him access to. One afternoon he told me what was going on and asked me what I would do in his position. Hey, I said, if your dad died and left you ten acres of land, but only enough cash to buy fertilizer for one acre, what would you do? He was puzzled for a moment, then he said, oh, I’d use that fertilizer on just one acre so I could harvest a rich crop. You have your answer, I said. Stick with this woman and perhaps in time you will get a rich crop. But if you continue to scatter your energy in a hundred directions, you’ll only end up jaded and unhappy. He laughed at me and called me crazy, but, believe it or not, five years or so after I left Manhattan for India, he wrote to say he had married this girl and was happy. Well!
As humans, we have a finite mind and finite energy; also, we don’t know how long we will live. So it makes sense to use our precious time wisely. When we are young and at the mercy of our hormones, of course it is natural that we want to go a bit wild. But as we mature, it is good to consider the myriad benefits of investing our relationship energy wisely, so that we too can one day harvest a fine crop.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who vows to tear all the veils of delusion from our mortal eyes so we can see clearly as we fuse into our blissful Self!