I know two people in their eighties. They are married to spouses who did not appreciate them for most of their married lives, and who hurt them regularly with unkindness and thoughtlessness. I often wondered, why the hell did they choose to eat shit instead of leave? Why choose to stay and be made to feel ‘not good enough’ throughout your life, your only life? Why not leave? Money? Love? Sex? Helplessness? A generation thing?
I got my answer from an unexpected quarter.
My niece had to interview a few people for her degree coursework and as the title of the project was “Beliefs of the World”, I suggested that she interviewed the Yogi. He is Dutch-English, privileged, a Western educated cardiologist but he is wholly a yogi in his beliefs and practice. To the extent that when I went to see a Seer, she described his attributes accurately (“the doctor who stands on his head”) but refers to him as a ‘black man’.
Interviewer: Though you believe that love is universal, not personal, you waited for a woman for almost a quarter of your life. How did you do it?
Yogi: The same way I did Vipassana meditation. I had to spend 14 days with my breath. Time is nothing when you focus on being alive.
Interviewer: Do you feel alive with her?
Yogi: Yes. As I do when I do my yoga practice, when I meditate, when I operate, when I run, when I walk by the ocean. But yes, I feel alive with her.
Interviewer: So you are happy with her then?
Yogi: No. My happiness is dependent on nothing. I like being with her but that is not the same as being truly happy. I believe that we have to move away from seeking happiness. Perhaps it does not exist.
Interviewer: If that is the case, why are you regularly flying 6,000 miles to be with her?
Yogi: Because she is my path and the moment I accepted my path life became easy, joyful even. Even the suffering becomes a joy.
It reminded me of what one reader wrote: this yogi is fulfilling a beautiful soul contract. That is what happens when there is polarity in a relationship, when people on the outside cannot fathom why a mismatched couple stays together. Why? he/she could have done so much better. He/she could have found someone better. He/she should leave. Maybe the two people themselves cannot understand the reason why they are together – but their souls, and all our souls, do. And if it is to be believed, every soul has a job to do in its lifetime in order to continue with their journey.
Photograph: Chelsea Embankment by www.mrsmithworldphotography.com.