The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Love Makes the World Go Round ...

By: on Feb. 14, 2008
Opinion


Especially
in America and other western countries, Valentine’s Day is a big hit. Americans are predicted to spend an estimated
$17 billion dollars on flowers, candy, jewelry, cards and other romantic
paraphernalia.



Ah!
What we won’t sacrifice for love. Husbands and wives, lovers and their beloveds are giving and accepting
gifts (some, very expensive) this year with an intensity that’s surprising
given the looming recession. Mostly,
these gifts are exchanged with the hope that they will let our loved ones know
we care or symbolize our enduring love.



But
what does it actually take to have an enduring relationship or a lasting
healthy marriage? What do folks who are
spiritually inclined need to know in this regard? Because it’s a fact that most of the people
on earth who claim to be religious and spiritually inclined are married.



The
Grhastha Vision Team (GVT) is a 501C3 non profit organization, headquartered in
North America, that is dedicated to strengthening families and enriching
marriages built on spiritual principles. They have developed a comprehensive, interactive, practical course
entitled, “Strengthening the Bonds That Free Us” and maintain a website full of
expert advice, tips and scriptural instructions about God conscious marriage
and family life. This 3-4 day course has
already been presented to Vaisnava communities in New York, Washington, D.C.,
Florida, Ireland and South Africa.



“First,
before the marriage knot is tied,” advises Cintamani Dasi (Dr. Courtney Parks,
one of the GVT founding board members, “couples should get premarital
skill-building counseling. This
generally involves a premarital inventory which gives an excellent assessment of
couple strengths and challenges and 4-5, two hour skill-building sessions in
communication, conflict resolution, goal-setting, parenting, financial
management, values clarification and how to implement spiritual duties in your
married life.”



Additionally,
couples who are already married are recommended to:



  • Attend a couple retreat periodically to “tune-up” your relationship
    –these retreats help couples to brush up on healthy relationship skills,
    revitalize their marriage commitment and have wonderful association with
    like-minded couples.



  • Take the “Strengthening the Bonds That Free Us” course (or a similar
    one) to sharpen your marriage skills, associate with other Vaisnavas, and go
    in-depth to explore the practical, Krsna conscious benefits of grhasta (spiritually
    committed married life). According to
    Uttama Dasi from Canada (another founding GVT member), “Feedback from the
    scores of devotees who have taken this course has been overwhelmingly
    positive.”



  • Discover the supportive tools (brochures, events, Vaisnava marriage and
    family educators, therapists and counselors) on the GVT website: www.vaisnavafamilyresources.org



The
GVT has identified 12 principles and values of healthy, strong, God-conscious
marriages including Alignment with Srila
Prabhupada, Spiritual Equality/Material Difference, Mutual Respect and
Appreciation, Commitment and Dedication, Family Love and Affection and more.



But
what about an individual who would like to get married but would like some help
finding a suitable spouse? (Matchmaking companies in the secular arena are
increasingly popping up everywhere). In the west, some matchmaking services do
exist for Vaisnavas although they are few. Contact the GVT at their website above for recommendations.



Many
of the festivals in Iskcon now host workshops by experienced devotees that can
shed insight into this situation. For
example, at the Festival of Inspiration this year, 2008, May 9, 10 and 11th in New Vrndavan, a workshop is being presented titled “Getting Ready for a Vaisnava
Marriage: What to do? and How to do it?”



Getting
married is a good idea for a Vaisnava. So says one of the foremost acaryas in our Vaisnava disciplic
succession. “Marriage with a view to
peaceful and virtuous life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is
a good institution for a Vaisnava.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur).



Most
human beings have a naturally strong desire to share love with another and
spiritual marriage affords an excellent learning opportunity to do so because
it keeps God at the center. And, as many of us heard from childhood, “God
is Love.”



Parthas
Dasa, (certified marriage/family educator) explains where some of the difficulty
about healthy loving exchanges occurs, “Love
through modern media has been reduced to passionate romance. An effect
of the media’s presentation of so called love is that the general connotation
of the word conjugal tends to be one of a sexual nature”¦..but the dictionary
tells us Conjugal means “Relating to
marriage.”



The
good news is that courses and workshops about God-conscious marriage and family
life (such as offered by the Grhastha Vision Team) help us to put marriage and
family in proper perspective. Then the
love that we express to God and each other will indeed be conducive to healthy
growth and development and make our individual, family and community worlds go round.


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