Friday, May 16, 2008
Part 3: Wife-Worshippers as Monks or Fakirs?
I'm going to explore, ever so briefly and lightly, another way of looking at the wife-led marriage, at least for the husband who has dedicated himself to this way of living, who finds himself drawn to it by deep and enduring feelings.
I’m going to suggest that it can be viewed not just as a lifestyle choice, but as a kind of spiritual path. And it can be lived as such, on a daily basis. Again, I can speak only about husbands, the worshippers. About the “worshipees,” those empedestaled wives who are on the receiving end of daily devotions, I do not venture to speak.
I believe there are some obvious parallels between the man pursuing a deeply wife-led marriage and a person who dedicates himself to a certain spiritual discipline or way of life.
In both instances, there may be a daily sacrifice of certain creature comforts and personal prerogatives in favor of a simplified existence focused on service and devotion.
Whether or not vows are sworn, in either case the individual attempts to set aside his own wants and wishes and to submit his will to that of another. And whether the backdrop be sacred or profane, there can be considerable struggle in this setting aside of one’s natural inclination.
The devotee, in either instance, may be required to sacrifice favorite and even cherished things—hobbies and pastimes, appetites and desires, even traditional rights, as well as bad habits and vices—to keep his pledge and further his quest.
Now this is not intended to be a heavy discussion here. Just some preliminary thoughts that might, perhaps, provoke serious discussion. That being the case, please don’t ask me to what spiritual destination the path of Wife Worship might ultimately lead.
You can give it a name, if you like. Illumination or enlightenment, Self-realization or self-actualization. Satori or samadhi. Take your pick. Or maybe that old Army tagline, “Be all you can be.” If you prefer something with more emotional or religious impact, then fine, call it Salvation.
An interesting description of spiritual disciplines was advanced by the Near Eastern mystic, G.I. Gurdjieff, during the first few decades of the 20th century, and popularized by his most famous pupil, the Russian writer, P.D. Ouspensky. (Books by both men remain in print, and there are thousands of people who profess to be following or even continuing their “esoteric Work.”)
Gurdjieff divided the various spiritual pathways, or “Ways,” in terms of the physical, emotional and mental disciplines required by each. The “First Way,” he said, is more about physical discipline, the “Second Way” emphasizes emotional discipline, while the “Third Way” is all about mental or intellectual discipline. Or perhaps “concentration” would be a better word.
In Gurdjieff’s shorthand, the First, Second and Third Ways were referred to as the Way of the Fakir, the Way of the Monk and the Way of the Yogi.
The Fakir struggles against the disobedience of the body, forging a sense of will over the physical machine, making it endure pain, etc. (Lying down on a bed of nails, walking on coals, holding one arm aloft for hours, etc.)
The Monk often does likewise, in order to pray without ceasing, ignoring the clamoring of physical and emotional desires in order to focus on God.
The Yogi endeavors to bring body, emotions and mind into a single focus, second by second, minute after minute, in defiance of the entire world of distractions.
Gurdjieff and Ouspensky called their system the “Fourth Way,” or the Way of Sly Man. The claim was that the Sly Man must do all these things, and do them while immersed in all the distractions of the world, pursuing the daily business of life. But that is another topic, and preferably for somebody else’s blog!
By the way, I make no endorsement of Gurdjieff or Ouspensky; I’m simply borrowing a kind of convenient template for measuring a person involved in a spiritual quest, to see if wife-worshipping husbands might qualify.
And I kinda think they do. As Fakirs sometimes, and Monks, even as Sly Men, secretly pursuing their objectives amid social distractions. Not sure about the Yogi part, though.