Marriage is like seva (service) but is it the same as seva to God or the Guru? Seva to God, personal or impersonal is a practice in expanding ourselves and learning to be unselfish, seeing the world as belonging to us.
But I have seen that service to God usually doesn’t begin in an unselfish way. There is usually a hidden agenda in the devotees’ mind. He wants something in return. Either wealth, health etc. for himself, his family or his progeny. Sometimes he may also want heaven or enlightenment. The work is done as a trade between him and his god. Only in rare occasions does his actions flow out of him unconditionally. Rarer still is the person who is able work in this unconditional manner consistently.
Marriage seems like a good practice ground to work for someone else’s benefit. Instead of earning just for ourselves, we earn a living for our family. Instead of thinking just about ourselves, we think about our spouse and our children. Sometimes we selflessly sacrifice our time, energy and money so that we can put a smile on our children’s faces.
There maybe a biological drive which urges us to act unconditionally to our children; there may be a natural instinct to propagate our genes. But could that also not be just a starting point to realizing that at some level we all share the same gene-pool; human beings must have started from one common ancestor, or at the very least a collective ‘life-pool’ millennia ago…right?
So what then is the real difference between seva within the institution of marriage and seva to a God? If all tends towards the collective could there be a difference? I think the difference is in the process rather then the end. The process of seva seems to be fraught with less emotional turmoil when it is focused on a ‘third person’ such as god or guru then when it is focused on those close to us. Since the mind conceives of a direct personal interest in relation to the work we do for our family, we tend to get more agitated when things don’t go our way. Also because there is an emotional entanglement on either side of the relationship, both the son and father, wife and husband are imperfectly trying to maneuver from the particular selfish self, to the unselfish self. In acting for the family, there is more room for entanglement and possibly greater difficulty in acting unconditionally.
In the case of seva to a god or a guru, even though we are in the realm of the small self, the God and in a few cases the Guru is in the self less state. So even though we may be entangled in our actions and our limited motivations, because our motivations are not reciprocated it may be easier for us to get out of the cycle of conditional living.
So it seems like I owe some seva to guruji afterall…