--by Asha Praver (Apr 22, 2002)
Humor is spiritual because laughing shows the ability to detach from life, to realize that life is just like "froth on a wave."
Sometimes people embrace the idea of "loving unconditionally" simply because they're weak, and they're afraid of dealing with the truth as it is. Or they're simply afraid. So they don't really love unconditionally; they're simply accepting things as they are because they don't know how to go about influencing the situation.
Money represents, among many other things, freedom and security for people. In the spiritual world, it can be a very complex issue. On the one hand, you find a few true renunciates who are genuinely beyond the material sphere. But then you find people who are afraid to put out the energy to make money, and who try to "renounce" what they don't even yet possess.
The test then becomes, "Do I trust my own experience?" Sometimes deep seated fears and memories of past disillusionments have to be faced and resolved before the question can be answered. Itís not always easy.
Ours is a path of Self-realization. We donít have the safety net of a powerful organization or a dogmatic theology to protect us from hard questions. Weíll share with you the confidence we have in our experience, but ultimately each one of you has to decide for yourself what is true.
On marriage: The first marriage has to be a marriage to Truth. Better to be lonely and living according to the truth than to be living with someone who will take you away from it; you have to come to terms with this or you will be trying to fit the truth to what you want it to be . . . The purpose for marriage is for self-knowledge and self-growth; and if that purpose is fulfilled, then the relationship will be fulfilled . . . Your wedding is an agreement to make a marriage; marriage is not a solution; it's the beginning of a challenge, a process. The process is to create not one person out of 2 people, but 2 people out of 2 people . . . If you decide to be unhappy, no one in this world can make you happy, and vice versa. It's a personal decision. If you feel unhappy in a marriage, it's not your spouse's fault; you have to take total responsibility for your own state of mind . . . A marriage contract is only a social agreement until we make it sacred by the consciousness we put into it.
-- Asha Praver
32 years earlier, she helped found the Ananda Village -- today, it's the largest urban cooperative living venture in America.