The Diamond Sutra of Buddhism discusses the concept of signlessness: the idea of not labeling something as one specified thing, because each object is in fact composed of many other substances. Therefore, to name or designate something as one specific item can be limiting. A so-called empty cup, which was once full of water, is never really empty, because now it is full of air, and the cup itself is composed of earth, water and colour etc. Everything is composed of many other elements, which often seem to have nothing to do with each other, but together make up very new and exciting things. And so if we think of something as only one thing, a designation, we run the risk of selling it short.
Let us take the example of a city leader like a mayor. Because the mayor grows up in a community, his or her view of the world will be coloured and molded by that place. The seeds which nurtured him are what he is composed of. If he grows up with violence around him, he sees the world as violent and so violence—the acts of and the results of—are all part of his makeup and who he has ultimately become.
If the mayor grows up in a home where God is viewed as a loving God, he will see the world through the eyes of that Being—tinged with compassion and grace, forgiveness and hope.
If this leader grows up in a Godless home, or with war, he may see the world as a place of chance, neglect, opportunity, failure, misfortune, death and destruction, and loss of control.
So when the mayor takes office, their mind and behaviour and term will reflect all that they have grown up with.
Let us look at marriage.
We think of it as being a bond or covenant between two people, but a marriage is so much more. It is composed of two primary individuals, sometimes children, sometimes other relatives—maybe parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings—friends and even animals, plus all of their life experiences.
Everything that each member of the marriage has grown up with is a part of it. The two primaries view each other through the eyes of all those involved as well as their own and they are the result of what they have been taught. But now they must learn to put into their marriage what they need to personally thrive and grow. And this is where problems often arise. If we have not witnessed what is necessary to make another person happy, we will not have that skill.
If no love has been given to you, you will not know how to love in return. And if no love is going into a marriage, no love will come out. Often we think we are giving love, but we are giving something else. If a marriage is full of distrust, then we have given distrust into it; for we get what we give, we reap what we sow.
We may think we are giving love, but we have given disrespect, and so one day we notice we are being disrespected and so we must look back to see when we stopped respecting the other person and that will show us where that weed came from in what is the ‘garden’ of our marriage.
We may think we were giving freedom to another, but we were creating a prison, and one day we look and see the other person wishes to run away and escape. And so we must look and see what we planted in the garden of our marriage to cause this result.
If one partner is putting only negativity into the marriage, like pine needles which cause acidity in the soil, then only one kind of thing will grow from it. If the soil is too acidic, no vegetables will grow, and thus, like the garden, a marriage which is too acidic will not nourish the people within it.
So as the Diamond Sutra says, nothing is only one thing, it is a composite of many. And to understand the one, you must look at the many contained within.
How do we correct the problem?
If there is a lot at stake—and any marriage has a lot at stake, especially where children are involved and families and lives, goals, dreams and years—then we can use the same concept to repair the problem. But you must be willing to try to have a better marriage, a better garden, with beauty and love blooming within it. It will not work if only one person wishes to salvage the bond.
You must be willing to pull out the weeds, adjust the fertilizers and put effort into the garden itself or it will die. And that is always sad, for then it will dissolve back into just a pile of unrelated parts instead of a composition of something that could have been beautiful.
If you wish to grow the flowers of love, respect, freedom, concern and tenderness, then you must plant these things deliberately into your marriage or only the opposite will grow and remain. If you feel you have received none of these things, then you too, must examine what you have given out and how you have given it.
It is difficult to change, but if you think of it as weeding, it may make more sense and be easier to accomplish.
Whatever you choose, remember that across the table from you will be a mirror of what you give, even if you have seen yourself as the victim. If right now, you don’t see what you want, then it’s up to you to change what you are planting in yourself as well as your relationship, so that your reflection will evolve into something more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.
Give what you wish to receive. Forgive as you wish to be loved. Be pure of heart. Be honest with yourself, more honest than you have ever been before.
Remember, the marriage, like the leader of the city, is a product of what its components have seen, grown up with, lived with, and been influenced by. If you wish your world to be better, you must step out of your old reality and be willing to create a new one.
Only then can true evolution occur.
Note: This topic is addressed to those who are living relatively normal lives and wish to make advancement in their relationships. It is always to be understood that there is evil in the world and its expression is never to be considered normal within a marriage. Thus, abuse, physical violence and emotional berating are never to be viewed as acceptable.