The Ghandi Option

This option is one I have not seen on these pages in my tenure here. So I thought I'd put it out there for discussion.

Essentially, it is a "stay" option, but rather than -
- stay and be miserable
- stay and cheat / FWB / open marriage
this one essentially is "stay and rise above it", the aim being a mindset of complete acceptance of the refusing spouse as they are.

It is not unlike the state of "serenity" often referred to in 12 step programs.

At its' core, it requires a particularly disciplined and honest mindset, as the key component is accepting all the hurt and anguish that have resulted from the situation, seeing it for what it is and letting it go. Forgiving it, without qualification, without regret, without recrimination, without reservation. To GENUINELY let it go.

Then, living it, one day at a time. (This ought not be interpreted as a daily grind like the Bataan Death March, but rather in the concept of "living in the moment", achieving a "state of grace", of reaching a state of "serenity")
12 step programs use a prayer of affirmation to this effect, it goes something like this -
- "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference"

This is a short, and overly simplified version of "The Ghandi Option"

Like all options this is not going to be a good fit for everyone (and if I can editorialise here, I doubt that this one is a good fit for just about anyone on ILIASM). The hugest impediment being the GENUINELY "letting go".

Personally, I have, these days, been able to let go of 'most' of what went on. BUT it took me a couple of years OUT of the situation. I could NEVER have GENUINELY "let go" whilst I was IN the situation.

But it IS an option, and thus worth discussing.

*** later edit. Could also be termed "The Mother Teresa Option". Indeed any recognisable figure of sufficient high mindedness

Tread your own path.
bazzar bazzar
56-60, M
13 Responses Nov 3, 2012

It would seem that this option does not carry the impramatuer of the ILIASM family.

It appears to have gone the way of the wrought-iron hang glider.

I am a huge fan of Ghandi and own and have read many books about him including many of his own writings. I have always been amazed how he chose to be celibate when he himself professed such a strong sex drive. In fact, he failed before he took a solemn vow and those he never broke. Now most of us and I certainly am nowhere near being a Ghandi. However, I think that those of us who choose to stay do take the approach to enjoy what is good about our spouses and life. That does not mean that we will not come here from time to time and vent or moan and wail about our situations. Again, we are not saints. My wife is a good friend to me still, a great mother to our child and we have enjoyable times together. I believe she loves me in her own way it just that sex is not in her make up anymore for whatever reason. So I do stay and suffer mostly in silence and try to make the best of the situation today. That is today, tomorrow may be a different story. I hope Ghandi would be proud.

As someone who believes this is the only life we have, I'm going to do what I have to do to get the most out of it. I could accept a life of empty serenity, but why not just end it in that case? What is there to enjoy or aspire to in self denial?

I understand that eschatological faiths like Christianity and Islam believe in self denial as a means to a higher path in the afterlife and that there are various karmic beliefs out there, but that's not going to work for me.

In fact, there were some extremely ascetic (yes, I can get spellung right) schisms (or heresies) in the early Christian church - that were rejected by what became the mainstream. Although there was (and is) a goodly deal of body-hating (and in effect Platonic dualism is intrinsically body-hating), most mainstream Christianity and Islam does accept the pleasures of the body as long as they're in the "right" context. I find it quite interesting that recent research into the mind supports the idea that we are embodied in our minds.

Well, I'm not even sure that Mother Theresa is a good example - she had decided by the age of 12 that she was going to be a nun & missionary.

Of course, some Indian traditions allow for the married "householder" role, followed by a more acetic "spiritual" phase (as followed by Gautama for example) - but this again, is their choice. There are also some cultural beliefs that have expenditure of ***** as being harmful.

Anyway, point being that Mother Theresa had values and beliefs (a calling if you will), that clearly people who have got married do not have. Specifically, most people who get married will be seeking a fulfilling sex life. And they are unhappy if that is not forthcoming without their consent, given they are constrained by fidelity etc.

Why would you be happy about that, why would you agree to it, or accept it?

Bad feelings are a signal that you need to take some action. Pain tends not to go away, and normally for a very good reason.


Fabulous P. I was gonna make an acid remark, but couldn't be asked with the spelling.

Join me in a glass of urine ?? !!!!!!!!

I suppose the SM is like being on a raft in the middle of the ocean - all that water, and not a drop to drink, other than the self-generated. What's your tipple Baz? Mine's a Greene King IPA.

1 More Response

While acceptance has set in, I am certainly very far from a state of forgiveness. But one thought that helps me get through the situation is that my wife has plenty of legitimate resentment against me, from her point of view. Just like her, I might offer plenty of defense, but it helps her not one bit. Far beyond Gandhi and Teresa, both Buddhism and the relatively enlightened parts of Hinduism (which means not the popular scriptures like Ramayana or Mahabarata but the more obscure Upanishads --- hope I got the spelling right) talk about the basic exchangeability of sentient existence: my wife might well have been me, and vice versa. It's the total suffering that matters, not how it is partitioned. You might guess I scoured through half a dozen religions looking for answers.

I think that turn-around is valuable, I could see myself refusing in different contexts. But then, there are few acts of human vileness I can't see myself doing I'm afraid. I only hope I can live up to my own standards sometimes. The forgiveness that's difficult is that of yourself, I find forgiving others fairly easy, perhaps because I lived in other cultures when young - it makes you rather more fluid in your standards than would otherwise be the case.

As others stated, didn't Ghandi and Theresa both CHOOSE celebacy as a way of life, rather than have it imposed by their partners? I think that would make all the difference.

In fact, both of them may be viewed as the "refusers", rather than the "refused".

Yes, I think this is a legitimate option. But as you ascribe 2 notable "saints" to your option, most of us are not such saints.

The key point to me is if you stay, it must be with a heart that's free from resentment and blame and anger, otherwise you are harming yourself and everyone around you.

I've not really reflected here about my ILIASM Dallas Meet Up experience, but one thing that profoundly affected me was the depth of the pain we all have or are enduring and the physical toll it takes. Even those who were out of the old relationships felt bitterness, anger, resentment and blame, held in our hearts for the relationships we couldn't fix despite our best efforts. This pain becomes part of us like piercing of sorts - the hole will always be there. But, as you say, there comes a point when we if we stop putting the stud in the hole, the skin will grow over. You will always faintly see the scar, but it will be closed. This toll manifests physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in each one of us. My heart was broken for all the pain we collectively experienced, yet it was also hopeful as I looking into the eyes of so many who had made the final choice to value themselves and move toward their own happiness.

I could forgive my H, but I could not live without what I need. That became the line he could not cross - he could not find his way to me. I could not accept the rest of my life without intimacy; I'd already done that for 25 years and wasn't willing to continue.

I find I am free from the pain I endured only because I choose to be free. I could dredge up all the infractions of the past, but there is no point to it. My H loves me in the best way he can. I can accept that though not as my marriage partner. I choose to look forward and be hopeful about what the future may hold - not just in a relationship but in every aspect of my life.

I don't need to be Ghandi or Mother Teresa and make such sacrifices. Their desire to serve was greater than their desire to be fully connected to another. I am not such a soul. My desire is to be connected like everyone else here. Maybe that makes us all the "Saints of ILIASM".

Participants in this board are a self-selecting. If one were able to exercise this option, there would be no earthly reason to find this board, stay on this board, or post on this board.

I don't know about that. Gandhi fell off the celibacy wagon more than once with Kasturba. If you live in a body, you must go through the experiences it has. Support is necessary for everyone, I think.

What hl42 said.
ALWAYS research your heroes.
There's usually some surprise attached to worship.

Personal opinion on the "Ghandi / Mother Teresa Option" is that it's a great theory.

But the necessity for GENUINE foregiveness, to GENUINELY let go of the past, whilst remaining in the toxic environment, would be waaay beyond my capabilities.
****, I couldn't even get up to the line for the "tear down and rebuild" let alone this.

Tread your own path.

Starting with Gandhi, his civic achievements were huge, and he also left his wife and adopted a celibate life, but with several young women accolytes sharing his bed. The big difference in what he did and what members here have, is that it was his choice, not unilaterally imposed by his partner. I believe his wife was quiet about her feelings, but maybe she would be a member here if it were today. And it is known that the young women were jealous and troubled by the situation. So maybe Gandhi isn't really the exemplar you'd follow in this instance.

I've read a lot of accounts where people were aspiring to the Zen stage, and loads who had attempted it, but found that, even after 10-20 years of valiant effort, they were not happy, they had not achieved acceptance. I've read one account where the person had indeed achieved that acceptance, yet he still found it a consistent challenge, and after all, was posting on a forum about it.....

I tried to accept it and rationalise it, and be all New Age and understanding. Didn't work for me, it did violence to who I am. And it's not about the sex, it's about a combination of basic needs not being met, and the ability of the other to help me being the showstopper.

I've certainly read accounts where people have reached acceptance (and I think I would be able to, to an extent), when the problem was outside your spouse's control, mainly when this is due to illness. The important thing being that it is not them being willfully negligent - which after all, strikes at the heart of the relationship.

I think this "solution" would be rare, as, in order to do it, you'd have to have a personality and a set of values & beliefs which were powerful enough to provide the personal buy-in to counteract the loss. Otherwise, it's like St. Augustine praying for chastity, but not now. And in the SM, you have the chastity with temptation lying in your bed, monks had it easy.

Ultimately, I don't believe in self-harm, so this ain't a goer for me.

I think I've seen one or two. But even in the rise above - it doesn't mean you have to like it, it just means you accept and don't let it gnaw at you.

Ghandi had some very strange ideas on sex. The archetype of a 'sexual anorexic' from what I can make out (although what's truth and what's urban legend when it comes to the private lives of public icons?).