Growing Together… separately?

The great Indian teacher Paramhansa Yogananda explained that East and West separated so that both could grow; the East grew in spirituality while the West grew in technology. Without separation, neither grew very well: imagine plumbing in India or spirituality in America, even fifty years ago.

Both parts needed a focused environment in order to thrive. And in fact, many of us have phases of our lives dedicated to amassing wealth, and others dedicated to growing spiritually. It’s not easy to do both at once. The two hemispheres of our brains have vastly different capabilities, and purposes.

It’s said that Saint Francis often sent his disciples into the forest in pairs; one played the parent, one the child. This meant that one would cook for and watch over the other, while the second was allowed to become childlike again, flowing with nature. They both needed each other: The child needed the parent in order to become vulnerable and receptive, the parent needed the child in order to remember what life was all about.

Later the two brothers would switch roles.

Imagine instead the same two people trying to “fix” each other; one insisting they both be more parentlike, the other more childlike. They stand in front of each other, blaming each other for not getting out of the way, stuck in limbo. Then one day, they each take a single sidestep, see daylight ahead (at last!), and move in their desired direction, now with improved gusto and intent!

What if this thrust – this desperation – was necessary for both to fulfil their destinies? What if stagnation was necessary for these drives to become strong enough to overcome obstacles along the way?

Suddenly both sides grow faster, like the separated East and West, like the banker on sabbatical who goes to meditate in the Himalayas; like the left and right hemispheres of our brains.

This, I believe, is what we are asked to do, both as couples and individuals: separate and expand – then reintegrate. Look at technology in India, and yoga in America, today.

So be patient with your spouse – and individually, within yourself – as the two parts go their separate ways and play their assigned roles, before coming back together.

Without the masculine, left hemisphere to protect us, we can’t develop our peaceful, calm, right hemisphere.

In other words, once you have plumbing, you can figure out what life is all about. But without knowing what life is all about, what’s the use of plumbing?

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